The golden hour in Morocco


Traveling with Fakeer and his camera from Marrakesh towards the Sahara.

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Driving on a secondary road between Ouarzazate and the main highway to Marrakesh, I am pulled into an ancient and timeless world of mountains, desert and a narrow river lined with trees and greenery.

Above me in the near distance are villages that might have been built 100, 500 or 2,000 years ago – and the few people I see could also be placed in any era. Very little of modernity is in view, and I am as if in an invisible time machine that has taken me back to my roots in this part of the world.

My driver is a young Berber in his twenties, and after a few days of being together I naturally and jokingly begin calling him, “My son.”

Having been raised in a Jewish family in Canada, I realize with immediacy how much anti-Muslim prejudice has been burned into my brain. Each day in this country wipes that prejudice from the hard drive in my skull a little more, and then a little more still.

In the developed world, every time I see a woman wearing a headscarf there is an immediate and automatic judgment. Here, where the majority of women wear one, I become aware of how robotic my judgments are. The women I relate to in the small interactions of daily life are unfailingly polite and gracious.

My driver, Ismail, and I are headed for Erg Chebbi, a dozens-of-square-kilometers area of large sand dunes, the iconic image of the Sahara Desert.

After spending a night in the small town by the dunes, I join a young Chinese couple on a camel caravan into the desert. The sun is setting and the oblique light is creating deep shadows and reddish highlights on the round, sensuous sand formations. The artist in me that revels in the photographer’s golden hour is fully awake and open. I start snapping away in spite of the jolting movements of the camel under me. We reach our tent camp just after sunset and the cold descends along with the darkness. Falling asleep under two thick blankets is a welcome respite.

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The next morning after stripping in the cold and jumping into a surprisingly hot shower, I return to town. Waiting there is Ismail and we head back to Marrakesh. The desert road we take is punctuated by villages surrounded by palm trees. Once again I feel pulled back to an ancient time of oases and caravanserais.

Back in Marrakesh I check into a riad, a traditional old home built around a central courtyard filled with trees and converted into a hotel. Its combination of original Moroccan design elements combined with a minimalist, western aesthetic makes it a pleasure to stay in.

There is only one other person in the entire riad and I rarely see him. Essentially I have the place to myself. In the evening a fire is lit in the sitting room and a delicious meal is served by the fireplace.

I feel blessed by the great good fortune to have the financial means and adventurous spirit that allow me to travel to this intriguing land.

The beauty of Morocco inspires me to capture its colour and light and to convey the spirit of its landscapes and its people.


Ram Fakeer (Stan Granofsky) is a photographer, actor and investor. He divides his time between Sedona, Arizona and Toronto, Canada.

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