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In the remote M’Goun Valley, high in the Atlas Mountains, early May is rose festival time. Three-four thousand tons of super-fragrant Damask and Cabbage roses are hand-picked in the valley each spring. Most of the harvest is processed into rose oil bound for the perfumeries of Europe. The rose festival in the town of El Kelaa M’Gouna celebrates the harvest with three days of music, dancing, and food, a parade, the coronation of a Rose Queen and, of course, every rose product imaginable.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY

 The tannery pictured above operates in the same way it has done for 1,000 years. It’s located in the heart of the old town in one of our mystery country’s most visited cities. Visitors can look out over the tannery from the upper floors of surrounding leather shops. Hides are cured in cow urine, lime and pigeon poop and then dunked in vats of natural dye. A sprig of mint held at your nose will take the edge off the powerful smell.

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Gates of Fez

Founded in the 8th century, Fez is the intellectual, cultural and spiritual center of Morocco. The Medina, or Old City, is one of the best preserved medieval cities anywhere. Today, the pungent, labyrinthine Medina pulses with daily life much as it has for over 1,000 years. The Medina consists of the larger and older Fes el Bali, parts of which date to the 9th century, and Fes Jdid, which originated in the 13th century. Fes el Bali is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the most interesting sites in the Medina are the many gates that pierce the ancient city walls. Here are just a few: Continue reading

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This local gentleman, helping a Ya’lla traveler scale a sand dune, wears the traditional blue robe and scarf of indigenous Saharan groups. They are commonly called “blue men” because the natural indigo dye rubs off, leaving them with permanently blue tinted skin.

 

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