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Snake charmer

120 miles southeast of Marrakech, Morocco

Snake charmers have long been a fixture at Moroccan (and North African) festivals and city squares. Usually, charmers play flute-like instruments and even though the snakes, mostly hooded cobras in Morocco, cannot hear the music, the airflow gets their attention. Depending on how the charmer moves, the snakes see him as a threat and start “dancing.” Once tourists are close enough, many charmers throw snakes around the neck of the spectators for an impromptu, often unwanted,¬† photo opportunity. You have to pay a hefty “fee” for the photos taken of you by your companions and for the snakes to be removed. Jemaa al Fna, the city square in the old part of Marrakech, is especially known for its snake charmers.¬†This photo was taken about a 120 miles southeast across the Altas mountains from Marrakech, near the castle of Ksar Ait Ben Haddou. Abdoullah, the snake charmer, waited for tourists on the side of the street. It was still early and nobody was around. Apparently, these are water snakes, maybe similar to the ones you can find in old Michigan basements! Since we were alone, he clowned around with us. His high-pinched ghost sounds made us laugh!