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2/08/10 On Marrakesh

Here's a photo of Marrakesh that I snapped last spring.

Note the contrast between the palm trees and the snowy mountains. (I actually shot pictures of cacti in front of the snowy mountains, but they were out the window of a moving bus, so came out hopelessly blurred.)

But note, too, the grassy foreground, behind the brick and iron barricade.

This is one of Marrakesh's fancier hotels. (Not this one, but sadly, Marrakesh has several.) Where rich tourists spend several thousand dirhams per night (ie, several hundred Euros) to be pampered and coddled and to feel at home.

But you're not at home, silly tourists. You're in Morocco. A desert country, where the vast majority of the precipitation falls as snow in the Atlas mountains or else in disastrous, flash-flood inducing fall downpours. Morocco needs all the water it gets. In order to maintain these lovely grassy fields, sprinklers run for hours each morning. Thousands upon thousands of gallons of water are wasted every day, so tourists can forget that they're visiting a desert land, and imagine that they're sipping their morning coffee in their own backyards.

This waste is simply one of the dozens of reasons I don't like going to Marrakesh - the overcharging, sexual harassment, touristy schtick, and dishonest cab drivers are on the list, too - but it's one of the most readily visible.

It's beautiful, no question.

But at what cost?

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