Had plan for gorges,
Very sick in bed for 3 days
Small walks around town
Walk to Napoleons hat
Walk back via unmarked route
Tafraout is in Ameln Valley. It is about 5000 people for the surrounding region.
We have been here for a couple of days, and had planned to spend two days exploring the gorges to the south. Unfortunately, on the morning we were supposed to leave, I was incredibly sick. The headcold I have had since Agadir turned into a fully fledged flu. This ment I was not going anywhere.
Anna wandered around the town on her own for a bit, and ended up with it herself. For the next couple of days we seldom ventured out of the room except to forage for food.
On the third day,the very helpful guy downstairs came bearing tea, as he was worried about us. It was a traditional healing tea, that would make us better. It tasted of ginger. And that was the best flavour we could detect! However it did seem to work, as we slowly regained our strength and energy after that.
On one of our quick trips out, we ran into a carpet salesman. He was proud that his shop was in the lonely planet, and we should check it out. As we were a bit better, we decided to have a look. There were a few trinkets of old Moroccan life. Plenty of polished fossils, Trilobites, Nautiloids and the like. He had fantastic plates of polished limestone that you could see the fossils in, and we were tempted by one of these,but the weight would be too much, and what if it broke in the bag? Then there were the carpets. We had made it clear that we were not going to buy anything, but this never stops a good salesman. Rugs, carpets and more rugs (Kilim’s) were spread out before us. There were Berber rugs, Touaregs, and ones from other unnamed nomadic tribes. He explained the dyeing process, and the use of saffron as the base. How some places wove the kilims, and others embroidered. The different symbols used in the rugs from the evil eye, to the caravan way. THere were several that we did like, but again, at this stage impractical to buy. However this is where I put my foot in it. I wanted to know a base price for the future, so I asked how much one was! This started off the haggling. We just were not interested. The rugs started at 4000DH each OVer $400 Even if we got them at half price there was no way. I picked up a wool and silk carpet in Greece that was much finer and that was only $100. OK it was a few years ago.
By now it was friday. The day of eid-al-adha. Sacrificing sheep instead of children (Lamb festival – See Abraham and Issac in the bible). The previous days, there had been sheep everywhere. Tied up on roofs of cars, wandering around the roofs of buildings, or being lead from place to place.
We had gotten used to the bussle in town, and are staying next to a major roundabout This sees action until late at night, and there are the between town transports parked outside. There is always something going on, someone yelling out and the general noise of the town.
Friday it was silent. There were no vehicles on the street, and the tumbleweed blowing down the street would have been lonely (if there was any). This is a family festival, and everyone is at home with relatives. As this was the first day we were feeling slightly alive, this was not going to stop us. The town is situated in a large valley. There are mountains ringing almost half the area, and smaller hills all around. We decided that we would see how we did after a small walk. Deciding to go see Napoleons Hat. This is behind the next town over, Aguerd Oudad. It was a very simple walk. Just down one of three main roads out of town. Off we went. Just after we started there was a call to prayer. In Morocco it is very different to Jordan and Turkey. It almost seems like a conversation at times, and singing at others. After this, life started appearing, in the form of a car every now and again. We reached the next town. The rock formation we had come to see did not look like a hat. Napoleons or anyone elses for that matter. It was still pretty, rising up above the town.
As we were passing through the town, we were stopped by a man and his son. On finding out we were Australian he invited us in for Tea. This lead to a very pleasant hour or so. Laughing with the small children, and talking to the 14 year old boy. He already was fluent in english, and acted as a translator. His mother and aunt also joined us, and we discussed everything from work or lack thereof, to religion. The biscuits that his mother had made were stunning. We have no idea what was in them, and although very dry (You needed the tea to help wash them down) they had wonderful indescribable flavours.
They had their own things to do though, so we left them there to continue on. During the walk we saw many families preparing their sheep for dinner. The sheep were peacefully escorted into sheepy heaven. This sounds a lot better than the official term. It was done quickly and efficiently. From talking to the family, there are specific people that carry out this task.
We wanted to go back to the hotel a different way, but there is a distinctive lack of roads. Going around one of the hills to the back, we started our return trip. This was a bit of a bushwalk, as there was no road. Just rocks and dirt. Eventually it turned into an old riverbed, and we could see signs of habitation in the past. There are all the Argon trees around, but now there were also old rock walls. These had been well made, and impossible to guess how old they were. It could have been 10 years, or 100. Eventually we came across an old wall/dam that was very well built, and quite a drop into a small oasis. Well, there was water and palm trees, so I suppose you have to call it an oasis. It was very pretty. What surprised us the most, was the amount of frogs in it. There were hundreds. Some bright green, some olive. Then there were the toads. Darker in colour, with rings all over them. Being an ex-french colony, these little fellas knew what humans are about, and we couldn’t get that close to them, but we did watch them for a while.
After this, there was not much, other than walking. Towards the end we were despairing of getting around the ridge, and decided to go over part of it. On the other side was te outskirts of Tafraout. This was well planned, and we walked down into the city. This is a poorer section of town, and you can see the drains from within the buildings opening directly onto the street, and the smell left you the impression of which drains these were. Not just the sink water. It was the first time we have encountered open drainage in Morocco, but probably not the last. There is a sewerage works outside of town, and I am sure that over time, these places will also be connected to the drainage system as well.
Now we had the opportunity to go and find dinner. As we got nearer the hotel, we did find one shop open. It was mainly selling sweets to the kids, but we managed to pick up some bread and water in case nothing else was open. The bread was a few days old, and the water turned out to be lemonade, but at least it was liquid. We had been told of a restaurant that should be open, but it was locked up tighter than a mouth sucking on a sour lemon. We wandered around the desolate town, and again the call to prayer rescued us. After this one, cars started appearing out of one of the streets. We went against the flow of traffic to the main square on the other side of town. Here there were many people congregating on the street. There was lots of socializing, and the restaurant on the opposite side of the road was open. It was packed, but we managed to find a seat. The restaurants in Tafraout are mainly tea/coffee cafes, but some serve food (although the only people we have seen eating in restaurants are tourists, or more likely, just us). This one did, so a couple of Tangines later we made our way back to the hotel. Exhausted, but full, and happy that we had managed to do something with the day.