I was hired by an agency in Morocco to photograph various properties and attractions for their marketing materials. The Mediterranean is such a beautiful blue, and the sky can be fantastic too. (Did you know that the name “Cerulean blue” comes from Latin caelum, which means sky?)Nonetheless, it’s been an off-and-on cloudy/rainy week, so we hit the right day for photographing here: sunny, with some interesting clouds, set off by that deep blue sky.





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We wrap up our three months of travel this weekend. Our last new country is Morocco, where we’ve been this past week. It is, of course, different from Europe, especially in terms of navigating the Muslim/Arabic culture. But there are similarities as well, due to its proximity to Europe, and its history as both a Spanish and French colony. It has not been uncommon for me to speak in four languages (Arabic, English, French, and Spanish) in the same sentence in order to communicate with people here.

My preconception of Morocco as a desert country has been rocked by the cerulean blue of the Mediterranean, the astonishing glory of the Riff Mountains, and the quilted beauty of the rural agriculture. And while it is definitely a Muslim country, it is known for being both secular and moderate. It’s not Taliban controlled Afghanistan, that’s for sure. There is a confusing variety of costume here, especially among women. I see everything from western-dressed women in pants and blouses, to the average hajib-scarfed woman, to a full eye-slit-only black burka. (However, I saw far more burkas in Hyde Park in central London in one afternoon than I’ve seen here all week.) Add to that the striped outfits of the Berbers, the tasselled-hat outfit worn by water sellers, and the variety of overcoats (kind of like burlap sacks with pointy hoods) and hats worn by men, and it’s quite a fashion show. I wasn’t surprised to hear that the creators of Star Wars picked up many of their costume ideas here.

We took a drive out to Chefchaouen, a famous little walled city of blue-painted buildings in the Riff Mountains, and had a lovely drive through the countryside.








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  • May 30, 2008 - 10:58 am

    Patty - What a beautiful place Fritz!! Thank you as always for your amazing photography. Great way to wrap up your adventures.


I’m in Algeciras, at the southern tip of Spain, right across the bay from the rock of Gibraltar, and across the Mediterranean from Morocco. For a few days, I’m photographing an intercultural arts exchange here, and it already feels like I’ve been with these people more than the 24 hours I’ve been here.

At one point, while photographing, one of the gals came in from plein air painting, and told us that a procession was about to start from the Catholic church a block away. So I walked over, and discovered a visual feast, which I enjoyed for the next 45 minutes. It was a processional of the children headed to First Communion, replete with marching band, officials, and a big shiny float.









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I read this last week in the Michelin guide to Provence:

… St-Pantaleon’s Romanesque church is built out of the living rock and consists of three naves; the central part dates back to the 5C.

Surrounding the church is a rock necropolis, most of the tombs of which are child-size. This necropolis was most likely a sanctuary of grace; there are other examples like it in Provence. Children who died before they were baptized were brought here by their parents, they revived–according to the beliefs of the period–for the duration of a mass during which they were baptized, they then died again and were buried here.

Intrigued, I visited the site twice, since it was only 4km from where I was staying. The church was small, and the first time I went, in the evening, I didn’t even see the necropolis, but only the small cemetery with large, newer tombs.

The second time, in the morning, I found the necropolis to the side and back of the building. It is as Michelin described: graves carved right into the rock, a few adult-sized, but most the size of a baby.



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And now for something completely different. As I’ve been editing, I just noticed I hadn’t finished my work from Bratislava. I found a few candid shots I liked, and thought I’d share them with you.




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Gordes, Provence, France, is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It’s too bad it’s overrun by tourists during the day. Apparently, movie stars have houses here as well.

I saw a photograph today from 1904 of the village, and it was considerably different. A hundred years ago, there were more buildings, but it was also quite shabby and decrepit. Today it’s interesting, to me, to explore and discover remnants of the old houses, the remains of which are carved into the sandstone cliffs and buried in the detritus of the hillside. As I looked through photographs from 100 years ago and more, I could still recognize doors and alleys and buildings that I had discovered while poking around this past week.

I’ve photographed it at several different times of day. This image is a favorite of the set.

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Dry stone architecture is about as old as mankind. Anywhere stone is abundant, people have built habitations with it for mellenia. It’s common the world over.

But to be able to drive down the road (or dirt path), and see these abandoned structures through the brush is fascinating. And if you’re doing it at dusk, it’s downright spooky.

The hillsides around Gordes are covered in scrubby, rocky terrain, with olive and oak trees and underbrush. Almost everywhere you turn you see dry stone walls, some newer, most old and decrepit, marking off ancient boundary lines, sheep pens, paths, and more. And if you look long enough, you begin to see structures–some standing (and some impressively large), some partially collapsed, some piles of rubble.

My curiosity piqued by my own explorations at dusk and dawn, I went to the local Bories Village. In the early 1970s, this old village, abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century, was restored. Most tourist attractions in the world focus on historic locations originally reserved for the rich and powerful: palaces, mansions, grand cathedrals, political buildings, etc. This one focuses on the hardscrabble life of the common rural villager, and attracts 100,000 visitors a year. (And the odd thing is: with no souvenir shop, you can’t buy a thing there.)

There isn’t a lot of information about what life was like for the inhabitants of these huts, save for a few household and farming implements. But you can gather a lot from observation: the soot and creosote coating the interior walls of the houses indicate a lot of smoke, coughing, and lung cancer.  Even in the hot sunshine, the interior of the buildings was very cool (and some were damp with ground seepage), so it must have been freezing in the winter, especially with the howling Mistral winds. They probably had a lot of welts on their heads from bumping them on the low doorways, and a lot of bruised or crushed fingers from laying so much stone.

As much as the silent history enclosed within these ubiquitous walls and structures, I was fascinated by their shape, the inward curve of the walls, the rugged poetry of their lines, the indelible weight of time.



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A little street shooting at Fontaine de Vaucluse, Provence, France. The texture of aged stucco and stone are part of the charm of the area (and, indeed, of any part of the world that builds with these materials). Add to that a young lady whose clothing choices match the surroundings, and a few flowers, and you’ve got a picture.

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The hill towns are beautiful here, perched over the Luberon Valley. The narrow streets make for some interesting driving and enjoyable exploring. Here are a few images to give you a flavor of the countryside.

Roussillon has been a protected village since the 1940s, when further development was banned. One of the most photogenic villages, and the most colorful, the streets are crowded with people taking snapshots. It is famous for its quarry of ochre and red pigments used in paints around the world.




This is Bonnieux, less famous (and thus less touristy), but also beautiful. We spent a good long while in the cemetery at the top of the hill, enjoying the breeze, the quiet, and the view.

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One of the few places I’ve always wanted to go to in France was Provence. Probably inspired by of VanGogh and Matisse, their descriptions of the light and color of the region (and the sunshine and warmth) have always been at the back of my mind.
I must say, I haven’t been disappointed. The landscape is an interesting mix of arid and green. It smells of pine forest and thyme. The historic hill towns and valley vistas are delightful to explore. And the mix of sunshine with a constant breeze makes for a climate (at least at this time of year) that really agrees with me.
The one drawback, in my opinion, is that it is overrun with tourists (like me). To avoid the onslaught of tour buses and souvenir shopping crouds, I like to photograph early in the morning, or later in the afternoon or evening. At those times, the towns and countryside seem almost deserted, and those who are out and about live and work here. And the light is lovely.
Here are some night shots from this past week.

A wierd photo, you say? Well, thank you very much. Isn’t the moon and sky beautiful? And the light on the metal shopping carts? I couldn’t pass it up, in the parking lot of a Super U. Don’t ever expect to be able to shop for anything past 8pm in France. Most places close even earlier.

This is Gordes, the hill town just up the road from where we are staying. It is listed as one of the most beautiful places in France by someone or other, and they weren’t lying. It’s pretty impressive. My favorite parts are where you can see the remains of the rear walls of old homes, carved out of the sandstone. I love to explore.

A stone wall and gite. The stone walls here are almost as impressive as in the Yorkshire Dales. (The Yorkshire Dales? Enough about the Dales already!)

A borie (actually a replica). These abound in the hills where we are staying, and visited at night by moonlight are fascinating and spooky. I hope to explore more; you can read about them here.

The pool and garden at our little hotel.

And another strange image from our hotel.

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Some images from the walled city of Carcasonne, France.

It seemed pretty odd to me that this kid, sitting in an oversized wheelchair, would be intentionally sticking his head into a plastic bag. Had his parents never taught him to never stick his head into a plastic bag for fear of suffocating? Was he suicidal? That’s how it appeared. Until I noticed a little later that inside the bag is a 2 liter bottle of soda pop.

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