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The Flood

June 17, 2014

Where ever I go there seems to be a flood. Or flooding of some sort. I had to name this post The Flood 2, because I already have a post called The Flood. I think that was in Prague. And there was the one in Nepal, too. None in South America, thank goodness.

There always seems to be a town that is kick off spot for international “adventure” travelers on there way to capture a new trophy. In Nepal, it is Pokhara, in Peru, Cusco, and here in Morocco It is Ouarzazate, otherwise known as the door to the desert.  I”m sure there are tons of towns, but there are the ones in which I’ve kicked off my adventures. Ouarzazate is a desert town – with mud colored crumbling buildings around a central square. I didn’t find the charm I’d found in Pokhara or Cusco, but I did find a lovely suite, with strong wifi, and an international group of guests. I spent most of my social time with the appropriately Gen-y named Winslow (a beautiful recent NYU grad) and her friends. They were on their way to a wedding in Fez.

Ali met me in the morning and we headed off to the gorges. As we drove he told me, in response to my amazement at the patches of agriculture amonst the desert, about Green Morocco, a company giving grants to farmers to jumpstart growth. We talked about climate change for a while before the conversation turned to religion. I asked about the Christian population and the different kinds of Muslims. He explained the distinctions in dress (especially for the woman and how covered one must be) and pondered the question of god. Ali is clearly religious, though he doesn’t pray when the call to prayer rings out. He wondered out loud if god cared more about how strict one was at following the guidelines or if just being good was enough. I think god cares if we’re good in our hearts and kind to one another, this atheist offered up. We hope so. Ali said softly. (Ali has a problem with pronouns, referring to himself as we and using you when he means him or her).

We drove along the road of 1000 Kasbahs – kasbahs, it turns out, are a dime a dozen – and down a winding, palm tree lined dirt road. Ali pulled over and said, “take a little walk.” So I got out and shut the door and he drove off. With nothing but my phone in my hand, I wondered if this was what everyone had been warming me about. I walked in the direction Ali had driven, past goats and oleander bushes. A group of women and children wre sitting by the side of the road picnicking. I resisted the urge to capture them on my camera, it looked to genuine a moment for them as a family. Eventually I rounded a bend to see Ali and the car waiting for me. “That’s a beautiful walk, isn’t it?” he asked. And it was, but I was a little preoccupied with whether I’d die in the desert to appreciate it fully.

As we traveled on up the Middle Atlas mountains, we stopped for several walks and photo ops. Whereever we went, children would flock to the car with their palms upturned. I learned a long while ago not to give money or candy (these kids have no access to dentists), but have tried to remember to bring colored pencils along as something to hand out. About half the time I remember to bring them out of the car with me and was treated to smiles in hugs in exchange – really, one can never get enough hugs from small children.

We stopped for tea at the Dades Gorge (after an exciting drive through a steep winding pass). After I hiked a bit up the mountain until I crossed paths with a rusty pipe that was poking out from the ground. The cut was deep and the pipe looked suspect so I rushed back down for bacitracin and sympathy. The pipe was part of an attempt to shore up the side from landslides. It doesn’t seem to have been effective.

We headed towards our second gorge of the day when the rains came. Pretty torrentially.  Changing plans we headed towards our guesthouse for the night, hoping the narrow dirt road wouldn’t wash out before we go there. Our 4×4 was much more efficient that the many cars that couldn’t make it through the rising waters. We had to dodge falling rocks from above and puddle leaping children from below. “Another 2 hours of this, and this is all gone,” Ali said gesturing towards the mud houses lining the road.

It thankfully ended just as we pulled up to the guest house and though my non-injured foot ended up ankle deep in mud, we arrived in our rooms unscathed.

Now for a nap and shower while Ali catches up on the world cup. Then dinner.


PS – For photos – go to face book. I can’t easily get them from my phone to the computer (I forgot to pack my hard drive).

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