I’ve written in the past about music from Laurel Canyon, and also about P.F. Sloan, a very peculiar character. The other day I was listening to a CD called Mayor of the Sunset Strip, featuring selections by Rodney Bingenheimer. Until I looked him up, I hadn’t realised that the CD came from a movie of the same name.
It is weird stuff. Rodney had a difficult childhood and then started out as simply a music fan, though a fanatical fan. He doubled for Davy Jones of the Monkees, and eventually became a famous DJ at KROQ. The list of musicians with whom he mixed is endless. Rodney is sort of a bridge between the famous and the non-famous. The movie also features Kim Fowley, who looks like a thoroughly devious and nasty person.
At first I thought the whole ‘Mayor’ movie was a wind-up, but you couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.
We found the food in Morocco to be tasty, and exotic. When you get tired of tagine, there’s couscous. When you’ve had enough of couscous, you can try the brochette or Moroccan Berber omelette. The salads are fantastic, as is the harissa sauce.
We were driven through the Tizi n’Tichka mountain pass to Marrakech.
Lindsey hasn’t changed much, has she? And I think it’s the same water seller!
We were not harassed in Marrakech, this time. Not like 30 years ago, when walking down the street could sometimes be difficult. Other things that had changed included the Jemaa el Fna which had been paved over. Parts of the souk had been paved as well.
Writing, the other day, about the group dynamics on our Exodus trip to the Sahara, I mentioned a trip Lindsey and I took to Lake Turkana in northern Kenya in 1985. On that trip, which went to Loiyangalani and back, was an English couple who wore hippie pants and were forever discussing between themselves whether something-or-other had happened on previous holidays on their first, or second, trip to Pakistan. It seemed important to them, but of course no-one else was fussed about this at all. Him, “We saw some gazelle on our first trip to Pakistan” – her, “I’m sure that was the second trip” – him, “No, it was definitely the first trip” – her, “No, on the first trip it was hog deer we saw” etc, etc.
I was desperate, on our recent trip, not to sound like those two, but the truth is I probably did. The thing about the trip Lindsey and I took to Morocco thirty years ago is that we can’t remember the route we took. We definitely spent some time in Marrakech, then Imlil, then Mt Toubkal, then the Tizi n’Test road over to the valley of the casbahs, and we took a bus to Tinerhir and Todra Gorge, where we were stalked by a dodgy looking man, and somehow we also visited Essaouira, on the way to which we were pulled off the bus by the police and made to stand in the baking sun for half an hour (for no reason we could understand – we were eventually ushered back onto the bus), which is on the coast. So at some stage we probably also went through Ouarzazate which we visited this trip. But the point is – it doesn’t matter.
The photos below were taken on the way to Telouet.
There was an optional two-hour walk in the mountains that everyone was very keen to go on. While I was waiting for it to get started, I stood on the gîte balcony and noticed some kids playing below. I blew up a balloon and patted it down to them, and one of them caught it. The other two looked on expectantly, as I took the photo below.
Due to what appear to be new restrictions on the size of photos uploaded to WordPress, the one above is not very HD. You should be able to see a better copy on my Flickr photostream.
The group optional walk went up a track to a valley behind the gîte where some women were gathering fallen leaves from almond trees to feed their animals.
As I took the photo above, which would have turned out much better if the light hadn’t been going, the woman in question called to me and said in Berber what I took to be the equivalent of something like, “Hey Jimmy! Fit ye dayin takkin ma photie? Ah’m nae an effin’ monkey in a zoo, ye ken!”
Not wanting to be stoned to death on the way back to the gîte, I put my hand in my rucksack and took out a brightly coloured marker pen, which I pointed to and placed on a rock, and then shouted back to the woman what I hoped she would take to be the Berber equivalent of, “There yeez go, hen. Fer ra weins.”
This seemed to have the required effect, as she shouted back, “Shukran”. I would have liked to have taken many more photos of Berber people in the High Atlas, but it’s understandable that they, like most other people, don’t want to be ‘snapped’ by tourists. In the next-but-one post I’ll include some short videos taken in the Telouet market, where there were some men with fantastic weathered faces.
Ait Benhaddou is a Unesco World heritage Site, and has been used as a location for several movies, including Gladiator. We spent one night in a nice hotel across the Ounila River from the Ksar. The Ksar dates from the 17th century, and is very impressive.