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Published: March 4th 2010
We have spent the last few days in some quite remote areas in Morocco. Our first stop was Boumalne Dades or specifically about 28km into the gorge from this town. Before we left the bus station in Fes we double checked what time the bus left. Two days later we got up early, whoffed down breakfast and got to the bus station at 8am for the 9am bus only to find out it was actually an overnight bus leaving at 9pm. I must learn the French words for morning and afternoon. So we now had a very long day in Fes to kill with our big bags, all we could really do was hang out in the new town and move from one coffee shop to the other - there are worse things to do I guess!
So we finally jumped on the 9pm bus, arrived in Er Rachedia at 5am and then caught the 6.30am bus to Boumalne Dades where we then caught a grand taxi to our guest house. Grand taxis are interesting to say the least - basically they round up people who are going to the same area and then cram you into the car -
the car does not leave until it is full and sometimes the engine is the only part of the car that functions. In this case we had 11 people - 3 in the front, 4 in the back plus a child and then another 3 in the specifically fashioned extra row of seats that is forced in between the boot and the back seat.
We eventually arrived in a little village where we would be spending the next couple of days. Not only were we the only people in the guesthouse we were the only tourists in town. The only noise was from the very high and fast flowing river outside - a product of the melting snow and large amount of rain that has fallen recently.
The landscape is amazing - huge rock formations, massive dry ochre coloured cliffs, mud huts and ruined Berber villages with a valley of emerald green grass lined with olive and fig trees. The people here are extremely friendly, at least from what we can understand in the little French I know and the little English that they can speak. The guy who ran the guesthouse joined us after dinner for Berber
whiskey which is the local brew of tea made with rosemary and thyme. He told us a lot about the area and a few Berber words which might help us interact better with the locals.
We hired a local guide called Mohamed to take us for a trek into the surrounding mountains. This was one of the most rewarding days. We walked through the valley and then up into the rocky mountains covered in wild thyme and rosemary, passing Nomads grazing their goats and camels.
We had tea with a Nomad family high up the mountain in one of their caves. It was fascinating and certainly the most interesting cup of tea we have ever had. It is amazing that despite it being twenty ten, very little has changed for the Nomads who move from the cave in winter to a tent in summer and then to a new cave the following winter and so forth. There is no running water, no gas or electricity. The cave contained all their important possessions such as pots for cooking, kindle for the fire and blankets. The goat herd was half way down the mountain being taken to the canyon for
water while the women stayed at the cave to prepare the meals and keep the wild dogs away from the chickens and baby goats. These women have an amazing arm, they could throw rocks from quite a distance and hit the dogs directly between the eyes or at their feet while they were running. Plenty of practice I guess.
Once we had finished in the mountains Mohamed then took us to his home for yet more tea and introduced us to some of his family and showed us his family album.
When we first arrived we were worried that there would be nothing to do and very little to see but in fact the opposite was true. We had a very memorable time with Mohamed and the Nomads.
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