A day in the Atlas Mountains and my dromedary friend
It proved to be an early morning by Marrakech standards-though we were up long before breakfast due to trying to adjust to the new time zone and the call to prayer-we ate breakfast at the hotel...best orange juice EVER...then made our way to the Jemma El Fna where our driver awaited us. The stalls were not yet open in the souks and it left a sad, empty feeling to the areas yesterday where their had been so much life and color. The square, too, was kind of dismal in the early morning light, street vendors cleaning up from the night before, no remnants of the lanterns that gave a glow to the musicians and street artist hours before.
We found our guide, Ustis, and off we went! We headed towards the Atlas Mountain range towards Tecal (sp???) a 400 ish meter mountain in the middle of a Berber village. We made a couple pit stops to browse some shops, see some olive/fig/pomengranete trees, take the obligatory Arabian nights themed picture and then pay the man for taking the picture. W learned about the rugs and how they are all unique...non two are exactly alike as that brings bad luck on those who make them. The women work on them from home for an hour a day because it is so hard to see/work on their loom.
As we drove we learned about our new Moroccan friends...they live in multi-generational homes, they have big families with 3-7 kids on average. They get married young! Our driver was 44 and has an 18 year old. School is required and the kids attend for 12 years. In the mountain villages (Berber) the girls just recently started attending school and the boys and girls attend the same schools. You can then attend university-of which-there are many in Marrakech and it is free/paid for by the government.
We toured a traditional Berber home with a kitchen that had running water irrigated in from the nearby mountain river and no semblance of any modern amenities.
We also stopped at an argan oil area and learned about the fruit of the argan tree that is indigninous to Morocco and good for so many things...eating, hair, cosmetics...who knows it may be cure cancer too!
We hiked up to an area where you could see four water falls cascading down the mountain just outside the village of Fatima. There is a mountain top we could see with snow on its peaks and that was Atlas Mountain and it ranges between 400-500 meters...so equivalent to Long’s Peak for us Coloradans. Though it is MUCH warmer here now than Colorado. We had some delicious Moroccan mint tea at the top and then made the trip down.
We ate lunch at a little cafe along the river...colorful chairs and booths dot the entire river bank with cafe after cafe full of delicious Moroccan bread, tagines and olives. Gavin would LOVE the olives here!
Of note...it is interesting that everyone here is decked out in full winter garb...like heavy down coats, wool coats, I saw gloves. Did I mention is was 80 degrees out today, blue bird skies and not a cloud in site? Still trying to figure this one out...
We hopped back in the an and back down the mountain we went...on to find our dromedary friends! We got dressed up full Arabian nights themed and hopped on our one humped dromedary friends and off we went...well there may have been more comedy involved in it than this...but let’s just leave it at that. Turns out the camels make a LOT of noises...almost these belly, gutteral burps to show they are tough I guess. Through me for a loop! More Moroccan tea...more cookies and then we were headed back to the hotel, exhausted after a hot, full day! Turns out we are no longer accustomed to the heat of Phoenix. We lounged around the hotel and then had dinner on the roof top. We have discovered these amazing little cheese treats that our waiter tonight described as cheese cigarettes...let me tell you BEST cigarettes ever...I will now require hourly smoking breaks. Hard to believe our time here is almost done-but we have loved it so much! Tomorrow brings on a tour of the city and all of the souks!