NAME THAT COUNTRY

 

Most Ya’lla tours to our mystery country include dinners and lunches at paladars, like Guitarra Mia. A paladar is a privately owned restaurant, usually family operated and located in a converted home. When we first started selling tours to this country in 2002, food was definitely not a selling point, mainly because of the scarcity of ingredients. Since 1993, the largely state-run economy has allowed the operation of small, private businesses. Relying on black market suppliers, paladars began to pop up gradually in major cities. With further economic reforms in 2010, the industry of small, private restaurants really took off. Today, hundreds of paladars operate across the country, mainly supported by tourists. While it’s not quite a culinary destination, yet, there’s enough variety and innovation here to satisfy the most refined palate.

 

Can you name that country? 
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Jemaa el Fna Square, Marrakech

Jemaa el Fna Square, Marrakech, Morocco

Jemaa el Fna Square, Marrakech, Morocco

Jemaa el Fna square on the edge of the souk of Marrakech is short-attention-span theater en plein air. Early in the day, it can be almost sleepy, with scattered peddlers and juice venders, but as the sun drops in the sky the place begins to sizzle and pop. If there was a lid, it would blow right off. A throbbing mass of humanity swims around the food stalls, story tellers, musicians, acrobats, sellers of potions, magicians, tooth-pullers, henna artists, snake charmers, monkey guys, and vendors of all sorts. A good share of the throbbing mass is tourists, either intoxicated by the surging energy or dazed and confused by it, but the square really belongs to the people of Marrakech. While there’s no shortage of really tiresome and pushy peddling, taken as a whole, Jemaa el Fna is a sanctuary of authentic culture, and has, in fact, been declared so by UNESCO. Continue reading

NAME THAT BODY OF WATER

The inland sea pictured above forms part of the border between Israel and Jordan. This sea lies at the lowest elevation on earth, over 1,300 feet below sea level at the surface. Due to a unique mineral content, the sea water and mud are prized for their therapeutic qualities. The extreme salinity of the water makes it very difficult to sink. Bathers bob on the surface effortlessly. Atmospheric conditions here also have health benefits. High levels of oxygen are both invigorating and relaxing. It’s really a magical place. The sea is centrally located and makes an easy stopover between visits to other top tourist attractions. It also makes a good base for visiting a number of tourist sites.

 

Can you name that body of water? 
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The Red Pyramid of Dahshur, Third Time’s the Charm

the Red Pyramid at Dahshur, Egypt

the Red Pyramid at Dahshur, Egypt

The Red Pyramid at Dahhsur, built by the pharaoh Senefru, was the first successful smooth-sided pyramid. Senefru’s first attempt at a smooth-sided pyramid, the Meidum Pyramid, collapsed. Next, he built the Bent Pyramid, which alters its angle of inclination part way up, probably as a precaution after the collapse of the pyramid at Meidum. The Red Pyramid was built at a cautious incline to avoid the disaster of Meidum and appears rather squat in comparison to the famous pyramids of Giza, which were built by Senefru’s son, grandson and great grandson, after developments in pyramid engineering.

the collapsed Meidum Pyramid (left) and its successor, the revised-midway Bent Pyramid

the collapsed Meidum Pyramid (left) and its successor, the revised-midway Bent Pyramid

The Red Pyramid gets its name from the exposed red limestone blocks, once hidden by a white limestone façade, which was looted for other buildings long ago.

Dahshur is an hour’s drive from Cairo and is usually combined with a visit to the Bent Pyramid, a few kilometers away. Meidum is about an hour from Dahshur.

Visit www.yallatours.com/egypt/ to see tours that include a visit to Dahshur.

NAME THAT COUNTRY

 

The spectacular Todra Gorge is located in the eastern High Atlas Mountains. Walls rise 500 feet on either side of this narrow canyon, only 33 feet wide in spots. The nearest town is Tinghir. Residents in the area are mostly the indigenous Amazigh, sometimes known as Berbers. Kelaa M’Gouna, famous for roses, is close enough to combine with Todra Gorge in a day of touring, as is another series of gorges, the Dades Gorges.

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