28 October 2012

Travel day
Bus to Taroudant
Lahcen

Up early today, as we have an 8am bus to Taroudant.
We say goodbye to our friend at the hotel, and we still don’t know his name!  But the hotel was Les Amis.  A good cheap place to stay. And if you are sick there, you get healing tea delivered to your room!
We were still not feeling the greatest, but a travel day should not be a problem.
As a direct bus to Taroudant was not possible, we were taking the bus to Inezgane, a town just under Agadir. From there we needed to find a new bus to take us the rest of the way. At least we did not have to go back to Tiznit and we would get to see some new countryside.
The CTM busses (a big buscompany) are quite nice and we had the prime seats. All the way in the front, next to the driver. We think, when we booked the tickets, the guy tried to tell us (in french) that we should have these seats, because of the view. We did not understand him then, but are now happy we agreed nonetheless.
There are only three roads leading out of Tafraout, and so we were surprised not to exit town on the north, but back out the way we came. Why are we heading back down the road to Tiznit? Not to worry, we must be turning of pretty soon.. No we did not. The bus went all the way back, down mostly the same roads, to Tiznit (Sigh..) Just what we were trying to avoid. A quick stop there and then on to Inezgane. Oh, well, the scenery was still beautiful the second time too!

Inezgane is nothing special. At least we were not able to find anything interesting about it online, so we decided not to spend the night there, but to keep going. CTM did not have a bus to Taroudant today, so we went across the road to the taxi stop. A grand taxi was easy to find and after squeezing in with the other four passengers we were off. Not knowing exactly how far Taroudant was, we were a little worried. The grand taxi’s are fine for about 50 or 60 km, but then it does get uncomfortable. We passed a sign for Taroudant 86km.. Oh boy.. But as luck would have it after about half of the trip two passengers left us, and we only picked up one new one, so it was not too bad at all. Taroudant was easily recognised as the walls came into view.

It is an old fortified town, know as little Marrakesh of the grandmother of Marrakesh. The walls are impressive and date back 800 years.  Most of the city is built within the walls.  Even today, although, now there is new buildings cropping up outside the walls.

Invaders at the gate!

The taxi landed us just outside of one gate, and we wandered into the city.  We had expected hotels to be everywhere.  There were a few bigger ones outside the main city, and we reasoned there should be plenty inside as well.  It turns out that the gate near the taxis is not one of the main gates.  In fact there is only a gate there, as you cannot walk through walls.  There was nothing inside.  Well, there were buildings.  Houses with Tour shops downstairs.  On adjusting to the shock, we went further into the city.  After a few hundred metres, we did find a hotel.  the Atlas.  Stopping in to ask how much rooms are.  It was 130DH for a room, so we decided on a look.  There is an attached shower/toilet, so we took it.  We could have done cheaper.  Probably, but who wants to drag their bags around town looking to save $3-4?  Not us at this stage anyway.  The room isnt that bad either.  There is enough space, and the door is painted!  Pity about the peeling paint on the walls though.  Still, it is a fairly good place.  After dropping our bags, we did our standard wander around town.  This brought us past a tiled mosque and to a big square.  There are a few trees, and lots of tea shops surrounding it.  A quick stop for a refreshing drink, and off again.  After a while we came across another wall.

Lost in the alley ways.

This one on the other side of the city.  The walls are close to 10 metres high, and look to be made out of earthen clay.  Hard packed.  The tops are brick with a clay render over them.  In the sections that are done up, they are very pristine, but here the ramparts at the back were breaking down, and the dirt was breaking away.  On the outside, they have been mostly repaired, but inside, there are a lot of sections that need major work done to them.  We followed the insides of the walls around part of the city.

After following the walls for about half the city, we cut inside the medina.  This lead us away from the piles of garbage lying in the streets, and into a warren of streets.  Going through them completely wipes your sence of direction, as the streets have gentle curves in them, and you end up turned around before you know it.  A lot of the streets end in houses, and in one section, we walked under buildings and around the sides, until we popped up in a small square.  By now we were so lost, and as the buildings are a couple of stories high and all look the same shade of brown at best, or balsa blocks at worst, there are no discernible landmarks.  The few mosques in the town are blotted out, and you can only see the towers when you are on that street.

“Annnnaaah, How do you say go away in French?”

Eventually we came to another set of gates.  These look like the main gates into the city, and the area is surrounded by shops and cafes.  We met a couple of young girls her, that took interest in the strange tourists.  They proudly took us to the gates, and beyond, where the wide road was lined with palm trees.  Then showing us the stairs up to the ramparts, where we could get a good look over this part of the city.  We found out later that the main buildings are the kings palace, and the Kasbah.  It looked like we would never be able to shake the girls, but eventually they got bored with us.  On leaving, the hands were stuck out expecting money.  It does seem to be a standard thing.  From the top of the walls, we could see the tower of the mosque near us.  We made our way towards it.  We hoped.  Eventually we did find where we were,well, at least the area where we could find the hotel.  Exhausted, we stopped off for a cup of tea.  Then a small walk around the block before dinner.  This proved to be mistake, as just doing the block is impossible, and we ended up lost again.

Horses don’t break down as much..

After a fair bit of wandering, seeing familiar parts of the city, although not knowing where they were in relation to other parts of the city, let alone us, we came across the main square again.  Perfect.  Now to find dinner.  Should be as easy as finding the hotel.  There were many cafe restaurants around the square, but they only serve drinks.  What is the point of a restaurant that does not serve food?  We have seen this many times in Morocco.  It is quite annoying.  However we did find a place, and sat watching the traffic go past.  There are many bicycles, a lot of motorised bicycles, a few scooters, lots of petite taxis, and surprisingly, lots of horse drawn carriages.  We originally thought they were for tourists, but more often than not, it is the locals taking them.  They are just standard taxis.  It is funny seeing them going through the narrow winding roads.  So placid, with the bikes roaring up their sides, and the cars honking their horns behind.  Most look well fed, but there are a couple that are in need of a good feed.  Then there are the donkey carts.  These are as common as hand carts, or motorised.  It is usual to see a donkey standing quietly beside a grocers stall on the street.  The city belongs to the animals as much as the vehicles.

Making our way back to the hotel after dinner, the safe way that we were sure would take us back, we ran into Lahcen.  He introduced himself on the road, as a lot of Moroccans do, and we started talking.  This lead to a nighttime tour of Taroudant.  We saw the entrance to the main souk, which we had managed to walk past a couple of times without spotting, and across to the main gates we had discovered earlier.  Explaining about the place as he went along.  A bit of the history of the city, pointing out the palace, schools, and interesting sights.  Then through the Kasbah, and out the other side of the city, where there is another palace, wich was for the kings children.  It is now a ***** hotel, and very well done up.  We took a while, and ended up back at our hotel with the agreement that he would take us to one of the outlying villages tomorrow.  We did explain that we had no money for a tour guide, and already appreciated the time he had taken showing us around the town, however this was not a problem, as he was a teacher, and it is school holidays.

AA

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