Daily Archives: May 23, 2019

Morocco: Volubilis

We stopped today at the ancient Roman ruin known as Volubilis.

From Wikipedia:

Volubilis (Berber languagesWaliliArabicوليلي‎) is a partly excavated Berber city in Morocco situated near the city of Meknes, and commonly considered as the ancient capital of the kingdom of Mauretania.[1] Built in a fertile agricultural area, it developed from the 3rd century BC onward as a Berber, then proto-Carthaginian, settlement before being the capital of the kingdom of Mauretania. It grew rapidly under Roman rule from the 1st century AD onward and expanded to cover about 42 hectares (100 acres) with a 2.6 km (1.6 mi) circuit of walls. The city gained a number of major public buildings in the 2nd century, including a basilicatemple and triumphal arch. Its prosperity, which was derived principally from olive growing, prompted the construction of many fine town-houses with large mosaic floors.

The city fell to local tribes around 285 and was never retaken by Rome because of its remoteness and indefensibility on the south-western border of the Roman Empire. It continued to be inhabited for at least another 700 years, first as a Latinised Christian community, then as an early Islamic settlement. In the late 8th century it became the seat of Idris ibn Abdallah, the founder of the Idrisid dynasty and the state of Morocco. By the 11th century Volubilis had been abandoned after the seat of power was relocated to Fes. Much of the local population was transferred to the new town of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, about 5 km (3.1 mi) from Volubilis.

The ruins remained substantially intact until they were devastated by an earthquake in the mid-18th century and subsequently looted by Moroccan rulers seeking stone for building Meknes. It was not until the latter part of the 19th century that the site was definitively identified as that of the ancient city of Volubilis. During and after the period of French rule over Morocco, about half of the site was excavated, revealing many fine mosaics, and some of the more prominent public buildings and high-status houses were restored or reconstructed. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed for being “an exceptionally well preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire”.

There are some pretty fine preserved mosaics here!

And I was delighted to find a stork nest on a column in the basilica.  I love storks!

Chefchaouen: odds and ends

Apparently we are in the marijuana capital of Morocco.  Pot is cultivated in plantations here.  Many people of a certain type flock here to enjoy the cannabis.  We saw loads of people of a certain type whilst eating dinner last evening.

Kif, a mixture of tobacco and marijuana, is popular here.

For details, see https://www.journeybeyondtravel.com/blog/kif-rif-hashish-morocco.html.

I am not interested in this stuff; one of my badges of honor is that I’ve never touched it or smoked it, and don’t want it around me.


The nights cool off quickly here after the sun sets.  And even this morning, as I opened my window to glorious sunshine and sky the kind of blue I’ve never seen before, I felt that chill one feels in the high desert morning, or in the Rockies at 7 a.m. on a summer morning.


Kevin was marveling at the same thing I noticed in my first trip to Tangier: the innate kindness and politeness of the local culture.  I wrote about this in a blog post in February.


Sometimes a hot shower is all one needs.  Well, that and a comfy bed.  My body ached last evening after my third day of walking well over 12,000 steps.  The significant amount of irregular, uneven steps in this town caused me a bit of tension yesterday too. I am ever-mindful that I broke my leg on steps, and I will always have that titanium rod in me.


I let a vendor pick coins out of my hand yesterday, rather than pick them out myself.  I’m certain that I paid MAD 20 for what was supposed to be a MAD 7 limon cola.  Seventy cents became two dollars, give or take.  I gave, apparently.


Watching sunset last evening, with a beer in my hand, was a reminder to let go of the stresses of first-world life.

Wednesday: scenes from Morocco

Dinner. This was $5.

Chefchaouen: the blue

From Wikipedia: “Chefchaouen, or Chaouen, is a city in the Rif Mountains of northwest Morocco. It’s known for the striking, blue-washed buildings of its old town. Leather and weaving workshops line its steep cobbled lanes. In the shady main square of Place Outa el Hammam is the red-walled Kasbah, a 15th-century fortress and dungeon, and Chefchouen Ethnographic Museum. The octagonal minaret of the Great Mosque rises nearby.”

The paint’s pigment is as blue as the sky. This is from our riad.

From my camera:

I only bought three handwoven pillowcases on Wednesday.  And overheated.  And then sat at the riad by the pool for a few hours.

I am never coming back to the USA.

Morocco: nature always wins