Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Moroccan Countryside

After our time in Marrakesh, we had booked a tour to take us up through the atlas mountains, through the Todra Gorge and to the Sahara on our way the Fez. The tour was for three days with our guide and driver Idris. Idris... was a bit of a card and very full of himself. Day one was okay, day two was a little worse and by day three I never wanted to hear him talk again. However, we were still on day one and still okay with him and more importantly the air conditioned card.
After leaving the city, it was really amazing how beautiful the Moroccan countryside was. The contrast between the dessert landscape and the occasional green around the river valley made from some really cool overlooks.
I basically don't remember where we went. This is the main problem in my mind with booking a tour rather than planning it yourself. You get a list of places you will go and you say "okay" and then you sit back and get taken them to them. You get out, snap a couple of photos, listen to the guide and then you are done. If you have to do all the painstaking planning and figuring out transportation then you sure as heck know exactly what you saw and why you saw it.
We first visited a pretty run down building in the middle of no where. Its pretty much famous for its view from this window. Which is a pretty good view - I'll give it that.
After that, more driving. Lots of fertile valleys in the middle of barren desert mountains. Idris kept having like communing moments with nature that involve meditating. The whole thing would have been a bit more believable if he hadn't carried two cell phones which never stopped ringing.
Next onto the UNESCO world hertiage site of Aït Benhaddou - better known as the site where Gladiator (and many othe movies) was filmed.
The best part was the river you had to cross to get there using sand bags as stepping stones.

Also, the place was a Kasbah, so I got a lot of mileage on the song "Rock the Kasbah"- made it totally worth the trip. Sadly, there isn't much to do there and no one really lives there anymore. Taken over my tourists and shops.

Finally our first day was over and we stopped at some random hotel (the worst of the trip) to catch the sunrise and eat yet more Tanjine. It was around this time that I made a pact with god involving never having to see Tajine again. Sadly, I would see it every day till we went home. Idris took the oppertunity to tell us he never sleeps and jsut relies on coffee and cigerettes to get by. Not what you want to hear from the man responsible for driving you through the desert.

The next day we headed to the Todra Gorge on our way to the Sahara. We basically just drove through and took some photos - another problem with yours, there is no time to stop and smell the roses (or camels). We did stop at a food market nearby where we purchased turbans. Although this was a completely unnecessary purchase, Idris told us we would need a head cover of some kind for the desert sun and also I wanted to look awesome (next post you will find out this was not the case).
Moroccan Parking Lot

Drink Vendor keeping his wares cool

The Todra Gorge

Todra Gorge with Donkey


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