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In the coastal city of El Jadida, about 1.5 hours from Casablanca, the old colonial city of Mazagan is well worth some leisurely wandering. The fortified city was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It is full of period architecture, much of which is in need of restoration, but still lovely. Walk along the ramparts for views of the city, harbor and out to sea.

 

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The Ramon Makhtesh in the southern desert of our mystery country is also known as the Ramon Crater and the Grand Canyon of _____. A makhtesh is a geological formation characterized by a deep impression and steep walls created by erosion, rather than by the impact of a celestial body or a volcanic eruption like true craters.
This type of crater is found only in the Negev Desert in and the Sinai Peninsula.
The Ramon Makhtesh is the largest one, at 25 miles long and 5 miles across at its widest point and over 1600 feet deep. The Ramon Nature Reserve is the country’s largest national park.

 

 

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This little fellow is called Anubis. In the ancient religion of our mystery country, he was a sort of guide dog (jackal really, dog-adjacent) and protector of the dead. Death and the afterlife was of paramount concern in this religion, with heavy emphasis on the afterlife.
Death was seen as a series of tests and trials leading, if all went well, to a peaceful, eternal afterlife. The dead would be armed with prayers and spells to ease the passage. At the final hurdle, the dead would be judged on the life they lead by weighing their heart against the feather of justice. Anubis presided over this ultimate test. If the scales balanced, the soul of the dead was accepted into eternal paradise. If the heart was heavier than the feather, it was instantly devoured by a hideous beast known as, well, the Devourer, and that was that.

 

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The fresco pictured above is from Akrotiri, a Minoan city that was buried in ash from one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever recorded. This site is known as the “Pompeii” of our mystery country. Unlike Pompeii, it seems the inhabitants of Akrotiri had time to evacuate, as no human remains have been found at the site.

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Charming Nafplion has a reputation as one of the prettiest towns in our mystery country, and that’s saying a lot. It’s located on the Peloponnese, a large peninsula  to the southwest of the mainland. Nafplion is often a gateway stop for tours of the Peloponnese, which continue on to historical sites such as Mycenae, Epidaurus and Olympia.

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