the road to (and from) volubilis

Since we had loved the Roman/Arab ruins at Chellah so much, while we were in Fes, we decided to hire a driver to take us to Volubilis, the larger Roman excavation in Morocco.

(The riad took care of the hiring details, which we all appreciated.)

He showed up in a large SUV and we were off.

We had seen Moroccan countryside from the train now a few times, but going by car was another experience entirely, for me.

With the windows down, I could breathe in the oh-so-familiar smells of the golden hills. Olive trees. Vineyards. Sheep and goats.

It reminded me of California so much, it felt like home.

We passed some awesome, colorful trucks..

And we stopped at a fruit/ souvenir stand, where I bought a very wabi sabi (cracked, plastic, cheap) hamsah, just because it was there and I liked it. It's hanging on my office wall right now.

And then we made it to Volubilis.

We decided to forgo hiring a guide, which causes a lot of haggling - since they think you just don't want to pay a lot, if you say no. We had to turn away four or five guides. I felt bad, but none of us were in the mood to listen to a guided tour, really, even me.

Fes is a crush of people. It felt freeing to be on our own. We passed tourists on the way to and from, but saw none while we were in the ruins. We even passed another American, which was almost shocking at that point!

(There are so many more European tourists in Morocco.)

Volubilis was beautiful, we liked the ruins, but there were no stray cats (Remy's favorite part of Chellah) and it was hot. We wandered around and I got some awesome head shots for B and we took a lot of group photos, which I am not sharing here because my people are photo-shy and I respect them.

And then we went and got Remy an ice cream from the stand at the front.

The tomb itself is off limits to non-Muslims, but we were able to peer in (and sit in the anteroom). 

On the drive back, our driver stopped in Meknes to let us see the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail and I bought another hamsah (silver damascene this time) at a shop where the neighboring shopkeeper(s) also tried valiantly to get us to buy a rug.

Hmmm... a rug that costs as much (or more) than a plane ticket? No thanks. Not our scene. we'd rather travel more than have expensive rugs.

But yes, two more hamsah for me.

(And I got a third - a necklace - later in our trip.)

The drive back was unremarkable, since we took the expressway, which wasn't nearly as fun because I had to roll the windows up most of the time, so I didn't get nearly as many photos, but it did take a lot less time.

Plus we drove through the new city part of Fes.

We liked the driver so much, we got his card, since we were still debating whether to do the Sahara tour at that point, and he was a nice guy.

But we didn't end up going to the desert.

Next time.

G-d willing.