Roman ruins...in Morocco
Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
127Trip End Aug 01, 2007
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Yes the mighty Roman Empire once held grasp of territories as far from Italy as Morocco. The capital of the province at the time was the city of Volubis, used by Rome to produce wheat and olives for the Empire between the first and third centuries AD. We spent the morning Sunday hiring a taxi to take us the 20 miles out of Meknes to wander the fantastic site. It's funny how when you are in Rome, other than the Coliseum, most ruins are in such poor condition that you have to have a very vivid imagination to figure out what the place looked like at its height. Not so in Volubis. Many of the homes were in a relatively good state of preservation, temples reasonably intact and roads uninterrupted. Since there were no major modern constructions nearby, it was easy to visualize how it might have looked 2000 years ago. On top of it all, there were probably less than 30 people at the entire expansive site. I love visiting places like this
So far, Morocco has been far more hassle-free than I originally expected. I had anticipated something closer to my prior experience in Egypt; basically being looked at by locals as a walking ATM to be aggressively sold anything and everything at inflated prices. In walking around here, we are very seldom asked to look at or buy anything, there are few beggars, and we haven't been shortchanged or overcharged (with the minor exception of a taxi ride).
However, we did have an eye-opening experience having lunch in Meknes following our Volubis excursion. We sat down at a busy sidewalk café to eat, and noticed within a few minutes the person sitting near had just finished eating and barely leaned back in his chair when a poor woman quickly walked up to the table, picked up his plate, and took it around the corner to finish the leftover food, returning the empty plate to the waiter a few minutes later. Initially we were a bit shocked that the indigent woman would be so bold to take the plate right off the table, but it appeared the diner was fine with the arrangement. In fact, a few minutes later another diner was in the process of finishing her meal and made a sandwich with her leftover chicken and bread, then gave it to a poor man standing nearby on the street. This was a reminder to us of one of the cardinal teachings or "Pillars" of Islam - giving alms to the poor and less fortunate, a caring and compassionate element of the religion that is seldom reported in the headlines. We have since tried to do this as well.
Todd said it all. I will more in a few days.