27 October 2012

Long walk
A Tale of Towns, Toads and Two Tourists

Towns – Aday, Afelia Ouaday, Past Dou Talzoughte, back to Aguato Oodato..
Blue rocks Painted by Belgian Artist Gean Verame in 1984.

markers, weathered rock, ruins in valleys

We ventured out fairly early this morning.  It is Saturday, and the holidays from the festival last for four days.  We had decided to walk out the other side of town today.  There are supposed to be rock carvings, and naturally blown rocks in interesting shapes.
The road we had decided to take was on the other side of town, and we walked through the streets without worries of cars.  There were a few more people on the road, and a few shops were open, but most of town was still closed.

Old ruines along the way

Going out the other end of town, we passed the big squares and parks we had seen before, and then in between the hills.  There were a lot of caravan parking camps set up on this side, and we can only imagine how many people are here during peak season.  I don’t think i would like to be here then.  After the last camp, the road suddenly narrowed to one lane, and the nice painted yellow and white gutters disappeared to become broken bitumen on the side of the road.  There were small groves of trees, and on the hill, what looked like a fortress.  We cut through the properties to get a closer look, It was an impressive feature perched on a rock overlooking the valley.  Houses below clustered around in its shadow.

Mosque perched on the rocks

There were lots of date palms here, and a few wells.  We are amazed at the amount of wells.  In 1km/2 there must be about four or five at least.  They are all fairly deep, and there is still water in the bottom, although all the muck and garbage on top can make it hard to tell.  Under one of the trees we passed was a lot of rustling.  On examination it turned out to be a toad.  This one was not scared of us, and even let us pick it up for a closer look.  It was definitely a Toad with ‘Tude.  Letting him go, we walked back to the main road.  During the next hours we passed through Aday and Afelia Ouaday.  Two small towns built along the sides of the road.  Aday was interesting, as on the hill over the dry riverbed were massive buildings.

The towns almost blend in with the rock walls

They looked like old monasteries.  Although, at the moment they no longer look lived in.  AfeliaOuaday had a pretty mosque, accented by the rocks behind it.  Going off the road and into the town to get a better photo, we found ourselves in a ruined medieval town.  The old mud brick houses were collapsing, and surrounding them were newer buildings in various states of completion.  Some were fully done and looking good, and some were just foundations.  It looks as though you live out the building, then build a new one next door.  It was quite a sight.

Going on, we tried to do the same as yesterday, and cut between the hills back to town.  Finding a road in roughly the right direction we continued on.  It was not too warm a day, and the walk was pleasant.  The new dirt road (new as we were just on it, and new as in construction) wound up into the small hills.  Getting off it occasionally to look at the country side, we were amazed at the amount of construction.  There were rock walls everywhere.  Terraces lined the inclines, and there were entire systems built where the rain congregated.  None of it looks used any more.  In the distance was Dou Talzoughte, another small town.  We decided against going in,as the last ones had nothing but housing.  No shops, cafes or anything.  Just family buildings clustered together, as having them too far apart makes them lonely.

The road eventually took us to the painted rocks.  We had decided to skip on this before,as what was the point?  A few rockspainted blue out in the desert?  Well, we were here now, and wanted to make the most of it.  As we approached,our fears were confirmed.  It should be UNESCO listed.  IT is THAT good.  We started wondering how they were made.  Watered down paint, and mop?  Or high pressure pain spray guns?  Honestly I think you could get a better result from dropping a 1000 pound paintbomb set to explode at 20m ubove the ground.

The Painted Rocks, not that impressive..

Mostly it was a waste of time.  It was created by the Belgian Artist Gean Verame in 1984.  He probably should have stayed at home.  This led to a discussion about art and creativity.  We both decided that the idea was not new, and just because someone is the foiirst to do something, does not make it creative.  Then there is the creativeness of a four year old, verses a 50 year old that has been doing art for a long time, and that said 50 year olds, can still have the creativity of a four year old!

On closer inspection, there was one surprising thing.  Other people were out here looking at them!  There were two cars parked at the main conglomeration of blue,pink and gray rocks.
The other, was that parts were well done.  There were individual bits spread out over the entire area, and some of the wind shaped rocks were individually painted.  These were nice, and if there had been a bit more care, and a smaller scale used more selectively, it could have been really good.  However just painting a hill and all the boulders on it blue, with the occasional pink and grey did not work for us.  Still, it was, well, was….  blue?  And did break up the monotony of the hills.

.. We preferred the naturally shaped stones.

From here we had the option to continue on the road, or cut across country.  We could see Aguato Oodato in the distance when we climbed one of the crests in the right direction, so we cut down the hill, and went towards town. (Turned out to be agood thing, the road comes out at leat another 10km further out)

We are starting to get used to the landscape by now.  Bald hills with boulders flaking off, small trees, rock walls, and abandoned buildings.  A bit like the area around Mimili (without the walls and buildings), but as we got closer to Napoleons hat, we started seeing lines of concrete markers.  It looked like small buckets filled with concrete and upended.  They were everywhere!  Lines of them stretching off into the distance.  As we got closer, we saw that the lines, although not straight, were fairly regular.  Some were 2 meters apart, and others up to 5m.  There were things carved into the top of them, and an arrow.  We are thinking that they must be property, or lot markers.  Although, how you cultivate just this patch, or that, we dont know.  LEt alone build a house.  1m wide by 25m deep?  We resolved to ask at the hotel when we got back.

They grow some strange rocks out here!

It turns out that they are property markers.  Each family has their own symbol or such, and the might own a fair patch  of land, but it is a bit here, and a bit there.  Then that bit over the hill, and one by your feet.  They are not together, and apparently causing a lot of frustration.  If you want to do anything, you need to negotiate with the family next to you, so you can swap, rent or buy theirs to make yours worthwhile.  This can be difficult as the entire family has to agree, and there can be 10 or more people who need to sign up to the same deal.  Very frustrating, and apparently it takes years to sort out.  This is probably why we are not seeing much cultivation, and why there are so many wells.  Each family needs their own water…

That was about it for the interesting part of the day.  Dinner was at a fancy restaurant/hotel, and to date, the worst meal we have had in morocco!  So will skip telling you about that, as it lets the country down.  However, when nearly everything is closed, you do not have much choice sometimes.



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