Archive for April, 2014

Carnaval of Malmedy 2014

April 13th, 2014

I do not make it every years, but whenever I can I always enjoy spending the Sunday of Carnaval in Malmédy, in the South of Belgium, in the Ardennes.  There is a very special celebration there each year, with some formal and traditional events, but especially a carnival parade with free participation from anybody who wants.  This year was the 556 year that this tradition has existed.  There are records dating back to 1458 – however, nobody can be quite sure how many parades there have been in total.  It probably changed a little bit over the years too.

The Sunday celebration opens with the “Dance de la Haguète” – last time we came, we missed that as we were still having lunch, so I wanted to make sure that we saw it this time.  We setup at the front of the crowd early and waited.

As I said, there is a lot of free participation to all events.  Three teen girls, dressed as Pandas entertained us for a few minutes – they were obviously having fun.

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The Haguète is a very colourful traditional costume.  They must have been treated very poorly in the past, or in traditional lore, or legend … some time any way as their carnival “trick” is to capture the ankle of an innocent bystander with their wooden tool (not sure what it is called) and force them to apologise on their knees, before they are released.  Traditionally also, a different society each year gets to open the parade with a dance.  As you can see on this picture, some of them start very young…

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There were a lot of people watching from every point of view.  There was also a duo between the band accompanying the Haguète and the brass band on the balcony here.

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As the parade was getting ready, we actually met the three clowns who get to open the parade.  It is obviously a great honour to be selected for that job; as soon as she saw my camera, I got the best smile in the world!  And we chatted a while after that.

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Morocco and Lanzarote

April 5th, 2014

After a few days in Andalusia, a few more than initially planned, we were finally on our way.  Having left Spain late the previous night, we woke up approaching Casablanca, in Morocco, with wonderful sunrise views of the Hassan II Mosque, reputedly the largest in the world outside of Mecca.

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As we approached, the views improved and we could clearly see that this was no ordinary place.  However, we are here looking at the back of the mosque and the better views are from the front.

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There is a large square in front of the building, but still not large enough to be able to take the whole view in one shot, even with my widest angle lens; this is a composite of several photos, which is why this is slightly distorted.  The minaret is 200 m high! I am told that the muezzin who goes to the top to call worshippers to prayers five times a day has an elevator to facilitate the task!

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This is the only mosque in Morocco which is open to non-muslim visitors and I was really looking forward to the planned visit.  However, since we arrived on a Friday, and relatively late on the Friday, we were unfortunately not able to go inside – a real shame.  We were therefore limited to taking pictures of the very decorated facade and doors from the outside.

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Everything seems gigantic, especially when compared to the human scale – notice the man dressed in white to the right of the gate in the shadows.  However, it is very harmonious and quite peaceful and inspiring.

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This is all we got to see of Casablanca – we were then bussed about one hour away to Rabat where we whizzed around the Royal compound for a short glimpse at the Royal Palace.  We were supposed to stop and get out – we were told we could stop and get out – but at the last moment, it seems that again we were at the wrong place at the wrong time and since a lot of people were going to mid-day prayers, the security officers prevented us from stopping.  All I got was this shot of the Royal mosque from the moving bus…

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