35mm Photo Blog – Marrakech & Atlas Mountains

When I visited Marrakech in November last year I expected a sun drenched North African city with a bustling and vibrant atmosphere.

I was wrong about the first part. It rained. Heavily. In fact Morocco experienced its heaviest spell of rain in over fifty years. Apart from one dry day which I spent in the Atlas Mountains, it rained the whole week. During the downpours the famous square of Jemaa El Fna cleared of people as the snake charmers, wrestlers, teeth pullers and other tourist traps ran for cover while orange juice vendors looked on in disbelief.

The rain, at times seeming relentless, gave way occasionally to drench the city and the surrounding Berber villages in the high Atlas Mountains with the warmth of the African sun. It was in these moments that I took a 1970’s Canon camera and a few rolls of film out to wander through the labyrinth of the Medina, among the thousands of souks.

The people of Marrakech tried to carry on about their businesses, hawking goods or ferrying stock among the narrow streets. But the city seemed quiet, subdued even, as the dark alleyways filled with puddles and shop owners huddled together in doorways, awaiting the next downpour of rain. In the old koranic school of the Merdersa Ben Youssef, the shallow pool of the beautiful tiled courtyard splattered with raindrops.

Up in the Berber village of Ait Amer, below the snow capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains, villagers enjoyed cups of sweet mint tea in the warmth of the returning sun.

The main square of Jemaa El Fna

The main square of Jemaa El Fna

A rain soaked alleyway in the Medina.

A rain soaked alleyway in the Medina

A subdued street in the Medina.

Street in the Medina

A rain sloshed alleyway in the Medina.

A rain sloshed alleyway in the Medina

A cart heads across the Jemaa El Fna square towards the covered souks.

A cart heads across the Jemaa El Fna square towards the covered souks

Donkeys pull and old men push as the hive of activity among the covered streets of the souks carries on for the workers.

Donkeys pull and old men push as the hive of activity among the covered streets of the souks

Two shop keepers huddle together in among the lantern workshops of the souks.

Two shop keepers huddle by a doorway in a lantern workshop near the heart of the souks

Rain drops fall into the pool of the Medersa Ben Youssef

Rain drops fall into the pool of the Medersa Ben Youssef

The Berber village of Ait Amer in the Atlas Mountains above Marrakech.

The Berber village of Ait Amer in the Atlas Mountains above Marrakech

Washing dries on a line as the snowy Atlas Mountains loom over Ait Amer.

Washing dries on a line as the snowy Atlas Mountains loom over Ait Amer

A small village sits on top of a hill in the valley below Ait Amer.

A few houses sit on top of a hill in below Ait Amer

Mint tea being prepared in the traditional way in Ait Amer.

Mint tea being prepared in the traditional way in Ait Amer

The pouring of mint tea is always performed with style.

The pouring of mint tea is always performed with style

The old man of a Berber household sits down for tea on his rooftop in Ait Amer in the high Atlas.

The old man of a Berber household sits down for tea on his rooftop in Ait Amer in the high Atlas

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3 thoughts on “35mm Photo Blog – Marrakech & Atlas Mountains

  1. Love thes photos. Was marvelling at the sharpness and realised after they were shot on film (and I’m guessing a prime lens).

    There’s still something special about film!

    Think the old Beeber guy having tea just wins out as my favourite. Great to see Marrakech “quiet” too.

  2. Beautiful pictures. I’ve been to Marrakech many times and think you’ve captured it perfectly. We flew home last November on the day those rains started and luckily the previous week had good sunshine. You need to visit again and photographer when the weather is better dude, amazing place.

    1. Thanks. Nice to hear from someone who know’s the place much better than I do that I managed to capture it so well. That’s a real compliment. I’d love to visit again.

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