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Rocking the Kasbah

June 16, 2014

I totally didn’t go to the desert today. Unlike past trips, I am completely unaware of what I’m doing day to day. I should probably do some research, but whatever. It’s all been good so far.

My guide Ali met me at my Marrakech riad early this morning. So early that I had to rush to finish my overflowing Moroccan breakfast and leave the artificially flavored peach yogurt behind. I say this with no sarcasm whatsoever – I LOVE artificial peach flavor. I’m sure its bad for me and I don’t want to look at the ingredients list, but I love it! So, leaving that yogurt behind was no small thing.

Where are we going? I asked when I got in the car. To the mountains today, I will tell you more after lunch. And we drove on. And drove, and drove. We passed out of Marrakech, past many a sight I wish I’d know to see on my sightseeing day yesterday (see – research would have helped).  “Do you know this game, golf?” Ali asked me as we passed courses on both sides of us. “This is a game for the rich.” he added. “Yup. And dull.” thought I (sorry golfers).

Eventually we started climbing up and Ali pointed out the lush oleander, and fig, almond, and olive trees.  He told me about the many dialects spoken throughout Morocco and the different tribes who spoke them. And he told me about his young new wife, but that was to explain the near constant pinging of text messages on his phone. Women, he said, that want to talk all the time. Once a day is enough.

As we climbed further he asked if I was worried about the winding road. Thinking back on Nepal and Peru, I figured – gimme what you got! And really, the worst of it was what we’d consider a break from the terror in the Himalayas.  I thought about those trips a lot during the drive. From afar the Atlas looked like the Andes or the Himalayas – shadowy peaks on the horizon –  it was only up that each is completely unique from the others.

We stopped for breakfast of roasted tomatoes and eggs, tea and coffee at a small roadside cafe. After lunch I went next door to the women’s cooperative, where local women are able to make some extra money (“the women, they shouldn’t work”, opined Ali) by making products with the plentiful argon nuts. I bought some argon oil and  delicious argon / almond butter that we’d sampled at breakfast (“the nutella of morocco,” they proudly announced) and off we went. Where are we going? I asked again. I will tell you after lunch, he said again.

Before lunch we visited telouet kasbah, once the home of kings and their many wives. A kasbah, I have learned is a walled home with four towers, a single entrance, and housing a single family (although one husband may have many wives). At Telouet, I was guided through the deserted, once clearly grand building by Aessa (it is the name of a prophet, he told me). He showed me the rooms for the wives, windows for the wives, door knockers for the wives…and on. My feminist knee jerk reactionary was jumping about inside me, but I kept her shut up.

We drove on, through what Ali called the green passage, the last place with plant life. Eventually we came to a valley – it’s magic place said Ali, and it was – the valley floor was lush with plant life, but the mountains were completely arid. Stopping for lunch, we had tajines and couscous with the most succulent melon for dessert. I don’t know what kind of a melon it was, but it was sweet and crisp and rich. Ali pointed up a high peak and said, now we go here. Ok -said I heading back to the car. No, no, said he – we walk. And we did. As you all know, I’m like an old lady when I climb up things. I get there, but I go way slower than you want me to. And despite the thunder and dark clouds above us, I went at my speed. It was worth it. The views were spectacular and from above I saw the courtyard Russell Crowe fought a lion (or whatever he did) in Gladiator; the expanse that Peter

O’Toole rode though on camelback in Lawrence of Arabia and the sight of so many other eric film moments.

We are going to Ouarzazate now. Ali told me. There you will sleep. I have no idea what I’m doing tomorrow, of course, but I made it here. My riad has a beautiful courtyard and a pool, but I’m just happy to take a shower.


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