Special Sub-Topic: Moroccan and A-Rollin'
|My music blares as "All Along the Watchtower" shuffles onto the screen of my iPod. Driving past the tower shown, I realize that I am in Morocco's capital city enjoying the Jimi Hendrix Experience. What is the name of this country's capital whose name translates to 'Fortified Place'?|
Rabat. Driving through the city of Rabat, of course I am also listening to none other than Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" (with Rabat substituting instances of the word 'Rabbit') and feeding my head with the sights. This beautiful capital city isn't the largest in Morocco, but its coastal climate and beautiful surroundings make for an enjoyable "Summer in the City". Many centuries ago, the city was built by Romans before locals used the land to build fortifications to protect themselves from Spanish fleets. Many of the watchtowers and walls still stand.
The image depicts the Hassan Tower, part of an incomplete mosque left unfinished at the end of the twelfth century (after the local ruler died). It's one of the many fascinating sites in this interesting city.
|Driving through Morocco, I come across the country's flag several times. As my music shifts to Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", I realize that some of the flags had a different design including more than just the center green pentagram. In another variation of the flag (specifically the naval flag), what appears in each of the four corners?|
Yellow crowns. The Moroccan flag typically consists of a five-pointed star (green) on a solid, red background. While the pentagram in the center may cause someone to fear the reaper (which they shouldn't...after all, "seasons don't fear the reaper, nor do the wind, the sun, or the rain") it actually represents the five pillars of the Islam and the country's association with its faith. The red and green colours represent Islam as well. This particular flag was adopted by the nation in 1915. The naval iteration of the flag features four golden crowns, one in each corner, though this is typically only seen at sea. Suffice to say, this flag will be getting its "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" from this traveler.
|"Purple Haze" plays on my device as I make my way through a shop selling hookahs in one of Morocco's largest souks, Djemaa el Fna. In what famous 'red city' must I be?|
Marrakech. The city of Marrakech is found in Central Morocco and it's the fourth-largest by population in the country (2010 estimates). Also known as 'The Red City', this specific location was quite important to the country's history as many foreign names for 'Morocco' are derived from the word 'Marrakech' (meaning the 'Land of God' in the Berber language). The Medina of Marrakech, an ancient, walled-in portion of the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and includes the Jemaa el-Fnaa, one of Africa's largest and most-frequented souk marketplaces. Always bustling, the shops here are filled with local goods and traders.
Passing through the city listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary", I can only pretend that Mary is short for the name of this intriguing location.
|I'm pickin' up "Good Vibrations" as I'm heading up the Atlantic Coast. What "Paradise City" am I at if I'm close to the Atlantic entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar?|
Tangier. With Morocco boasting an area slightly greater than that of California, it's no surprise I'm "California Dreamin'" and ready to surf on the Atlantic's beautiful waters. Tangiers is one of the northern-most cities in Morocco and it touches the Strait of Gibraltar (which is about twelve miles north at Cape Spartel. This strait separates Africa from Europe and marks the entryway to the Mediterranean Sea.
Tangier contains numerous tourist spots due to its proximity to the ocean and its wonderful weather. Having a history reaching back before 400 BC, it's a mixing pot for Africans and Europeans alike. Unsurprisingly, many of its buildings, from its souks to its palace, Dar el Makhzen, contain elements of both cultures.
|Driving along a dusty road, I start to weave through rugged mountains. I stop and ask a nomad for directions. As "Like a Rolling Stone" plays, he suggests that I stay awhile and enjoy the peaks of the area. What mountain range am I in?|
Atlas Mountains. I park my car just off-road and spend a night recounting stories. The nomad asks me to "Light My Fire" while we discuss the local region. As it turns out, the Atlas Mountains which stretch across Morocco separate it from the arid deserts reaching into Algeria and Tunisia. Both Marrakech and Ouarzazate are found in close proximity to the mountains, though at a low elevation. Much of the Atlas contains the Berbers who are often considered nomadic peoples (when, in fact, they're mostly farmers). I'd argue that some people are simply "Born to Run", of course. In the morning, I turn on my iPod to "River Deep, Mountain High" and continue on my way.
The Tibesti Mountains are in Chad and Libya, the Nuba Mountains are in Sudan, and the Blue Mountains are in Niger.
|I enter Morocco's most-populated city in time for a festival. As "Dancing in the Streets" plays on my radio, I pass by the Hassan II Mosque featuring one of the world's largest minarets. What city am I driving through?|
Casablanca. Driving through the city of Casablanca (made all the more famous by the movie of the same name), I see many of the country's most notable landmarks including the Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque of its type in Western Africa, rising over 200m to the "Spirit in the Sky". Casablanca was settled many hundreds of years ago by the local Berber people, and while it was used as an Atlantic port city by many ancient cultures due to its spot on Africa's western edge and its proximity to the Mediterranean, it was never colonized until the early twentieth century by the French.
|As I continue along a dusty road skirting along sandy dunes, it's clear that "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". What desert makes its way along the eastern border of Morocco?|
Sahara Desert. As I drive through what seems to be a climatic "Ring of Fire" (burn, burn, burn), I come across the western reaches of the Sahara Desert, the the world's largest non-polar desert spreading out in over nine million square kilometers. The Moroccan Sahara rests on the southeast side of the Atlas Mountain range and (unsurprisingly) is the hottest part of the country. Many Moroccans have survived in the desert for years working in the mining industry, but for the most part, the citizens of Morocco are situated in the major cities which, although warm in climate and kind of sandy, are nothing as imposing and stark as the Sahara.
|"Lean On Me" starts playing on my stereo system as I pull up to one of Morocco's borders. Which of these countries does not lean on Morocco?|
Mali. While much of Western Sahara (to the south) was maintained and ruled over by the Moroccan government after the Spanish withdrew after World War II, it has remained its own separate entity with distinct borders and contains very few people, mostly due to its barren, desert landscape.
Morocco also borders Mauritania, which rests along its south/southeast border. It's mostly covered by the Sahara (which is actually expanding). Algeria is the northernmost country along Morocco's border; it's one of the largest African nations and it, like Morocco, is both on the Mediterranean and takes in a lot of the desert.
|Continuing through Morocco I find another major location on the map. Certainly no "Hatful of Hollow", the headgear depicted shares its name with my current Moroccan city, the second-largest in the country, but what is its name?|
Fes. Unsurprisingly, the fez hat was manufactured for many years in the city of Fes, Morocco. While the hat was more popular in Turkey and surrounding countries, it has always remained synonymous with the Arabic and Ottoman influences found in Western Africa.
"In the Still of the Night" I arrived in the city of Fes, the second-largest in terms of population in all of Morocco. The old Medina of Fes (also known as Fes el Bali) was dubbed a UNESCO Heritage Site and remains one of the most-visited spots in the city. Much like other cities in the northern parts of the country, later additions feature significant French influence, especially in the architecture.
|Relaxing at a nearby bar, I turn off the stereo to find a "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On". Although usually regarded as a Middle Eastern styling, what dance (as depicted) is also common in Moroccan culture?|
Belly dancing. While belly dancing is much more associated with culture of the Middle East, it's one of the many influences which have crossed the desert to reach Morocco. Although the history of early belly dancing can be traced back hundreds of years, it gained more popularity around the world in the eighteenth century, getting recognized in Europe and more of Africa around that time with colonization efforts. Now, it's hard to find rich cultures which don't indulge in a little "Dance to the Music".
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