Really, it wasn’t as bad as all that. Pat would beg to differ with me, though…
Today, we were scheduled for a day tour of the Ourika Valley, at the base of the High Atlas Mountains. This was a nice change of pace from flat, dry, bustling and smoggy Marrakech. We left our Riad at 9’ish in the morning and boarded a tour van in the public square. From there, it was about an hour drive up into the mountains. At this point, we could spot multiple Berber villages nestled into the hills.
Our first stop was into a traditional Berber village. Here, a family invites us into their home to give us a taste of rural living. It reminded me of our tour of the Hutongs in Beijing. It was very interesting, filled with tourists, but the family themselves were very nice and sweet.
Water jugs formerly in use (now they all have indoor plumbing)
Man of the house, just chilling
Woman of the house hard at work, making Moroccan mint tea
Homemade bread, butter churned from the above cow, and honey from the beehive in the wall
After our tour of the Berber village, we stopped on the side of the road to see some camels. It was very tempting to try to ride one, but the conditions that these poor animals were in stopped me. The camels looked sad and mangy. One camel kept walking around and around neurotically in a circle while roped to a tent pin in the ground. So I didn’t ride based on principle. Though it didn’t stop me from taking a photo…
After the camels, we went to a government-run herbal and aromatic shop. There, they gave us a tour of how various cream and teas are made, especially the famous Argan oil, which, if you listen to our tour guide, cures basically just about everything…
Traditional production of Argan Oil
From here, we went to a narrow, rickety bridge. I’m not really sure what the point of crossing a rickety bridge is, maybe just to say you’ve done it?
However, if you can get your footing on the rickety bridge, the view of the Ourika Valley is quite beautiful
Our next stop was lunch. But this wasn’t an ordinary lunch. We had the option of literally sitting in the river and having lunch, the way the locals do. Supposedly having your feet in the water while eating is a great way to cool off. Pat did it (and nearly froze her toes off), but I remained safely on shore.
Locals lounging by the Ourika River
The cutest little kitty begging for food at lunchtime. He reminds me of Meester! I wish I could take him home with me…
My kefta tagine, as well as an Moroccan Coke
Pat, eating lunch in the river
Nicely well-fed, we were ready to head back down to Marrakech. However, our tour guide tells us that we have one more stop, the waterfall. Since everything else on our tour today was basically: Park, walk about 20 feet, and observe an activity, I thought that our waterfall walk would be the same. Right? Wrong! This was a steep hike, at times walking through the mud and scrambling up slippery rocks. Quite honestly, this hike was nowhere near as bad as our hike in Brazil, nor was it as tiring as our day of walking in London. However, what made this difficult was that we weren’t expecting it, so we were wearing the wrong kind of shoes and slipping all over the place. Despite all of this, we made it up and down in one piece, though barely. And after all that, was it worth it? Well, compared with Iguacu Falls which I had just visited a month ago, this waterfall was more like a trickle. But it was an interesting experience.
Playing in the waters at the base of the watertrickle (can’t really call it a waterfall))
Our tour group. Funny story about the French couple in the middle. Throughout the whole day, they were lovey-dovey, kissing and holding hands as they played in the waterfall, hiked, and rode back to Marrakech. However, right before they were about to disembark from the van, they got into a huge loud argument about where their hotel was and where the bank was in relation to the hotel. In French, of course! Even the van driver, had to laugh at the situation and tell us, “Desolee” or “Sorry”. I guess love can turn to anger extremely quickly. Ah, the crazy French…
Anyway, I digress…
Looking back down on the Ourika Valley
Finally… the waterfall! The cool thing about this waterfall is that you can jump into the knee high water and take photos with the waterfall, I guess.
After this long day, we were quite exhausted. But we mustered up enough energy to eat dinner at a nearby Moroccan restaurant – can’t get enough of couscous and kebabs. There, our friendly server Abdul – who was raised in the Sahara Desert, gave us tips and photos of places to return on our next visit to Morocco, all while trying the practice his English, while I tried to practice my French.
The narrow Moroccan streets at night, as viewed from our restaurant terrace. The cloud of smoke in the background is coming from the food stalls at Place Jemaa el-Fna, the square where we ate last night.
After a long day, this looks so inviting…
Bonne nuit! A demain!
Thanks for the very comprehensive report. I almost feel like I was there with you, except for the rickety bridge (yikes) and the torturous hike in the wrong shoes. The food looks great too!
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