Tafraoute's Blue Rocks definitely pop
03.07.2010 - 03.13.2010
When we arrived in Tafraoute the landscape suddenly changed. The scrub brush and flat desert collected itself into round red rocks and slowly piled itself higher and higher. It was Red Rocks meets Castle Hill (New Zealand) - just red boulders strewn everywhere. After exploring the small town (4,000 residents or so) we came across a bicycle rental shop and knew what we'd be doing the next day.
With a feebly drawn map and Phil's innate sense of direction we headed out on bike into the desert. The scenery was unbeatable, massive rocks so delicately balanced it was as if they had been placed on top of each other by (avoiding the obvious large-hand analogy) a massive Jenga champion?
Not twenty minutes into our ride we came across the strangest thing. We turned the corner into an open boulder field and I couldn't help but stare confusedly, awestruck. Imagine our confusion when out of nowhere popped a collection of car-sized to hotel-sized boulders painted electric blue. Massive rocks painted so completely in ANY color would be a shock, but the bright pop of the blue against the deep red of the rocks just made my jaw drop. The whole area was scattered with these blue rocks with no discernible rhyme or reason.
The "art installation" did not exactly inspire awe or beauty, but amazement and confusion. It was so unusual and bizzare - why blue? why that rock? why some pink ones? why were some faded? how? just, why?
So I googled it. Apparently a Belgian man Jean Verame began his project "Les Pierres Bleues" in 1984 as an art installation. Initially he used 18 tons of blue, red, violet & white (on the original rocks) and hired a team of Moroccan firemen to spray the granite. You can see the old ones in some of the photos but the new rocks really pop. Three men were up there painting, and while I'm not sure who the men are I'd have to assume no one else would have the passion to continue but Verame.
(notice Phil and Pepper in the bottom left corner for scale)