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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gemmell

Moroccan Adventure 1978

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

I would guess that many of the places visited on this 1978 Moroccan adventure haven’t changed as much as in other countries. There has always been a rich traditional culture within Morocco. The people have a long and fascinating heritage. They have slowly started to embrace the modern world but there is still a timelessness that continues. The population of over 30 million are predominantly fairly poor. Lifestyles differ depending on the areas that people live in and even today, people living in rural areas are often unable to get what we would consider fairly basic items. They generally tend to grow plants or tend livestock for food. However there are far greater clusters of people in the cities, which bustle with life at all times of the day. Souks (markets) are virtually a way of life for most Moroccans and can be found in every town and city. So in general the way of life would be very similar to how I experienced it 43 years ago.

Rissani Market Morocco 1978
Rissani Market 1978

My trip back then didn't get off to a great start! We landed in Tangiers and having watched the airport carousel empty of luggage it dawned on me that mine hadn’t arrived. It transpired that for some unknown reason my luggage had arrived in Paris. So while the rest of the group headed off to the first destination, I had to find a hotel room for the night, with my belongings expected to arrive the following day. First thing in the morning I headed back to the airport, collected my luggage and arranged a taxi down the coast to catch up with the main group. The ride was very long and I arrived under cover of darkness at the campsite to find the gates firmly closed for the night. There was nothing else I could do so I threw my gear over the gates and climbed over. Then it was a question of fumbling around in the darkness to find the right tent that I was sharing. Eventually I found it and was relieved to be back with the rest of the gang at last.

Pentax Spotmatic

My cameras for this trip consisted of my trusty Pentax Spotmatic loaded with slide film plus my little Rollei 35S camera loaded with Ilford FP4 black & White film. I would have processed the black and white film myself and made some prints in my makeshift darkroom. Not sure on the make of slide film, I may have home processed that too.

view from hotel window Tangier Morocco 1978

The first image would have been from my hotel window. I’m finding it difficult to remember the right locations for all of these images. So they are not in any particular order. Not sure where we had this bus incident! I do remember that we had ventured off somewhere and this is what we discovered on our return. We had no idea how this had happened but the tour leader managed to get the window patched up with some plywood for the remainder of the trip.

Damaged Bus Morocco 1978

Damaged Bus Morocco 1978

Aït Benhaddou is an historic fortified village along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh. It has featured in a long list blockbuster films over the years.

1978 image of Aït Benhaddou Morocco
Aït Benhaddou Morocco

Few families actually live within its walls today. However I remember there were some when we visited. Most local inhabitants now live in modern dwellings in the village on the other side of the river, and make a living off agriculture and especially off the tourist trade. In 2011 a new pedestrian bridge was completed linking the old ksar with the modern village, with the aim of making the ksar more accessible and to potentially encourage inhabitants to move back into its historic houses.

I think we crossed the river on foot all those years ago. I don’t think it was a big tourist attraction then, as it probably is today. It was listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1987, nine years after our visit.

Crossing river Aït Benhaddou Morocco 1978
Crossing river Aït Benhaddou Morocco 1978

Rissani is a former major caravan centre with a large souk. There is a photo of the souk in black and white earlier in this post. I am now switching to my colour transparencies and the first shows the city gate entrance to Rissani.

City Gate Rissani Morocco 1978
City Gate Rissani
Rissani Souk ( Market ) Morocco 1978
Rissani Souk ( Market )

We also visited many other areas of Morocco, coastal towns, the beautiful Atlas Mountains and of course Marrakesh & Casablanca. In Marrakesh there were huge crowds and many entertainers performing in the huge Jemaa el-Fna market square.

Jemaa el-Fna market square
Snake Charmer Jemaa el-Fna market square Marrakesh 1978
Jemaa el-Fna market square
Acrobat Jemaa el-Fna market square Marrakesh 1978

The reminder of images in this post are a mixture of the slides and the black and white images. As mentioned I cannot guarantee the exact locations but I do remember visiting, Essaouria, Quarzazate, Safi, Agadir and Tiznit in addition to the areas already mentioned.

Souk Morocco
Berber musicians Morocco
Bakery Morocco 1978
Moroccans drinking tea 1978
Atlas mountains Morocco
Morocco 1978
Moroccan landscape
Berbers Morocco 1978
Travellers take a rest in Morocco 1978
Berber musicians Morocco 1978
Moroccan face 1978
Moroccan architecture

Fishermans catch Safi Morocco 1978

Cigarette break Morocco 1978

Moroccan cyclist 1978

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