Deep into Morocco’s Atlas Mountains: the locals

Written by By Adrienne Kelley, Special to CNN Written by Adrienne Kelley, Special to CNN Written by Adrienne Kelley, Special to CNN

It’s a scene from a romcom.

Two young guys climb the side of a mountain in Morocco, in front of a helicopter crew. (Even if the helicopter isn’t actually filming the scene, there’s already a huge movie budget at play.) Soon, the two fixers — a group of Bedouin men who hire travelers to help fix things for them — are surrounded by a gaggle of girls. “So you all want to marry my girl?” the fixer asks the females. “Can I marry yours?” he asks a male visitor. The men and women run from the mountain, giggling.

“It’s quite comical, I’d say,” says Olivier Merquin, the photographer behind the series. He was fascinated by the people he encountered while on an assignment for Vogue in Marrakech, the mainly French-speaking city that has been the setting for films including “Elizabeth” and “La Vie en Rose.”

However, these stories are not lighthearted. While Merquin was working in Morocco earlier this year, he and a team of photographers came across a group of people stranded in the snow in a village in the Atlas Mountains.

This day, he headed to the village of Makhzenda to photograph the people and the mountain itself.

The villagers have started the season early, “so you would often see them sitting outside at home, having their vegetable patch,” Merquin says. “They were living quite a small life, but they had a very strong identity and history.”

Merquin, who is based in Paris, said the shot he captured during his visit showed “a very moving side of Moroccan life. You see everyone running — some carrying a kid, some on their shoulders, others with their hands full.”

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