Monuments of the West By Judy Fauth...

MY BEST SHOT

March 19, 2000

MY BEST SHOT

Monuments of the West

By Judy Fauth, Timonium

This photo was taken in Monument Valley, Utah, during a trip out West. Film director John Ford made many of his westerns in this valley on a Navajo reservation. A Native American girl on a horse made this breathtaking scene complete.

A MEMORABLE PLACE

Exotic, simple Morocco

By Tracey Mathias

Special to the Sun

While living in Prague, Czech Republic, my friends Nicole and Honza and I decided to take a trip to Morocco. We would visit towns along the west coast: Casablanca, Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Zagora and Essaouira. They sounded exotic, mysterious, different.

I imagined myself in Casablanca among the palm trees that serve as road dividers, or part of a camel trek through the Sahara. I imagined myself in a country where I could speak my second language, French, without reserve, and where the beat of drums shakes words and thoughts through your soul.

I will start by stating what Morocco is not: It is not for those who need modern appliances or who don't like to get dirty. It is not a country where one can speak freely or party until dawn. It is, however, a civilized place where the smiles of children, the rhythm of the ocean and the silence of the Sahara create beauty and lasting impressions.

Marrakech was insane. The city is a labyrinth of small alleys. Stray cats frequent the rooftop restaurants. There are small shops where one can find almost anything. At night, people gather in the main square to watch snake charmers and acrobats. The aroma of couscous, meats and vegetables is overwhelming.

Next, we rode through the Atlas mountains to Ouarzazate in a taxi. The price for the four-hour ride was $10. I have always been a city girl, but here in Morocco, without the many comforts of home, I felt at peace with the world around me. I appreciated and understood the simple life that some Moroccans lead, and I admired it.

I remember walking through the town and seeing two children who seemed fascinated by our presence. Their smiling faces made the trip worthwhile. Despite their harsh living conditions, these children were radiant.

The dusty town of Zagora is where we rode camels into the Sahara, and were greeted by the Berbers who made us feel comfortable and welcome.

From Zagora, we took an eight-hour bus ride back to Marrakech. We were on a bus with sheep and people from all over the country. We spoke to Moroccans about their country and about America. We exchanged ideas, songs, poems. My friends and I taught them how to play Prsi, a Czech card game.

Our last stop was the ocean town of Essaouira. Here, I had time to reflect on my trip during casual, lengthy meals and wonderful sunsets.

I felt welcome in Morocco, and it was nice to return to the simple pleasures.

Tracey Mathias lives in Baltimore

READERS RESPOND...

Where is the best place to get engaged, and why?

St. Thomas

Nancy Unger Eddleman, Owings Mills

"During a cruise in January 1999, my boyfriend and I fell in love with St. Thomas. We had only a few hours to spend there but vowed to come back and get engaged. In January 2000, we spent five glorious days there and bought a beautiful engagement ring. It was an experience we will both treasure the rest of our lives."

Fort McHenry

Jeff Jefferson, Millersville

"The best place to get engaged is at Fort McHenry, especially if your song happens to be `The Star-Spangled Banner,' because when it's played, everyone stands. Cheri and I did this over 33 years ago and it works."

In Church

Margaret Tamburo, Timonium

"The best place to receive an engagement ring is in the church where you intend to wed with God as your witness." (Tamburo was married in 1941 in Baltimore's St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church.)

Our next question: Where is the best place to get away from it all?

Please answer in 50 words or less. Send via fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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