15 November 2012

Long Valley Walk
Up Valley, Up Mountain, Down Mountain, Down Valley, Up River
Got a pen?
Yalla! Yalla! Yalla!

Its a long way to get water at house level

Up early this morning to find the gorge!  Breakfast was a simple affair of tea, bread, honey and oil.  Then we were out.  The next town up the valley is about three kilometres.  However as we walk down to the river and start going up, we see another interesting valley veering off to the left.  We decide to take this instead, as we will be here for a few days and can do the other walk whenever we feel like it.  The valley we take is smaller, and has no running water at the moment, however there are a few pools here and there.  The rocks are also bleached, indicating that there has been quite big flows down here.

It would make a good bath in spring!

It was a lot of fun working our way up the canyon.  Scrambling over rocks, and looking up at the high walls of the mountains.  This is not the gorge we were supposed to be doing, but it was good.  A few times we had to go up the hillside a bit or over vertical sections to continue, as there were some steep ascents along the valley.  Eventually we got sick of doing this.  It was hard work, and with a breeze, it got cool in the shade.  In the sun it was still nice, so we decided to climb up to the mountain.  Picking what we thought was a good spot (any spot looks like a good spot when the walls are at 80 degrees!) we started climbing.
At times this was proper rock climbing.  Looking for hand and foot holes to get yourself up over the next ridgeline, and at other times it was scrambling over the scree (loose rocks) hoping to make if further forwards in a step than you slid backwards, whilst praying you didn’t end up at the bottom of the slope.  When we were about halfway up, we realised how crazy we were to try this, but there was no going back down, other than in a hurry.

Who used the whitewash?

While we were walking up the gorge, we had come across the carcass of a goat that had made a misstep, and ended up at the bottom faster than it had expected (proving that Moroccan goats are not mountain goats) and we did not want to meet the same fate, so we continued ever upwards.  It was definitely our daily exercise.  We did make it to the top without mishap, and stopped to appreciate the views that had opened up before us.  It was well worth the climb.  Just over the top there was a wall built out of stone.  There couldn’t possibly be a dam up here could there?  We walked over to have a look.  It turned out to be an embankment of a road!  All the way up here in the middle of nowhere, after hiking for hours we came to a road?
Still, it made for an easy trip back down the mountain.  Next time, we will just walk up the road…  Nah, that takes all the fun out of it.

Hang on, Cliff directly ahead!

As we went down the road, we saw that it was still under construction.  It is set to link up villages further into the High Atlas mountains.  These villages are cut off for months at a time during winter.  Walking back via the road, we passed a lot of machinery that was being used to finnish the guttering, and move large rocks further up the road to be used.  There were crews of people digging them out of the hillside, or breaking them into the sizes needed.  A lot of buses also passed showing that the road was already being used.  It proved to be an interesting sight watching them wiz around the corners just barely staying on 4 wheels, and millimeters from going over the edge.  I wonder how the people on the roof stay there.  Although they have great views.

Back at the bottom of the hill, we were spat out at the beginning of town.  There is a large sign up about the roadworks.  It is being sponsored by Belgium, so someone must have fallen down the hill at some stage!

We decided to go down river from here, and had to walk through fields to get there.  The plots are quite small and similar to elsewhere.  Irrigation channels form a latticework differentiating the plots.  Most have now been ploughed and furrowed ready for planting.  The river is quite small here, and barely more than a wide trickle, yet the irrigation is running like a dream.
Working our way back to below the hotel, we felt a little unwelcome here, and a lot of people were staring at the crazy tourists walking through their fields (Well, there was nowhere else to go, and we did stick to the paths).  Working our way up to the town, we thought we had come to a dead end.  It was a sewer outlet (Pipe leading out of the house to the ground, and along to a gully) so we turned back.  Two ladies were walking up, and gestured that this was the way into the town.  As they passed, one held her hand out expecting money.  Money for what?  We would have found another way up, and you don’t charge for being helpful in Australia.

Climbing out of the open drain we were back on the main street of town.  The kids were out of school playing games on the road.  They all came up yelling Bonjour, Steelo, Steelo.  We finally worked out what they were saying.  They were all asking for pens.  Every kid had their hands out, and were disappointed we had nothing to give them.  We were even more astonished about this.  These kids are not that badly off, and we think it could be a result of the aid people coming through giving out freebies that it is now expected.

A quick photo, thousands of years in the making

We made it back to the hotel around dusk, and went up to the terrace to watch the sun set behind the mountains.  After this we had a quiet game of cards, relaxing by ourselves, and quite happy about it.  The old man came rushing in yelling “Yalla Yalla Yalla”  Trying to grab our open bags and drag them out of the room.  WTF?  To stop him from damaging anything else (He had already broken our adaptor by now) we hastily threw our bags together and zipped them up.  This was not fast enough and he kept yelling at us.  We had no idea what was going on.  Were we expected to catch a bus back down the gorge?  Was there a landslide happening, and we would all be killed if we stayed?  No, it turns out there is a french tour group coming in for the night, and we were being kicked out of our room to make way for them.  I would assume that they had made a booking as there were a few of them, and it was an organised tour, so why did it had to wait until they arrived we do not know.  Taken upstairs, we were dumped in a barely finished room.  Still dazed and confused we sat on the carpet.  Our only furnishing.  As we were debating on whether we could find transport down the hill, they came in dumping two mattresses, pillows and carpets.  No words, explanation or anything (granted we would not have understood, but thatsnot the point!).  Eventually dinner turned up.

The Moroccan Clothesline

Leftovers from the french.  The old mans son joined us again, but we were in no mood to be sociable.  We did try though.  We had told him yesterday that we wanted to spend a few days here, but now were asking about how to get back down the mountain.  Apparently there is a bus at 6 in the morning and nothing else.  Our other option was to walk 4km to the next town when there is one at 8am.  On expressing our disappointment at this, and resigning ourselves to a very early start, he mentioned that he was driving down tomorrow and would give us a lift at 8.  Fantastic.  After this he took the hint and left us in peace.
It did turn out that this room was warmer than the old room, so there is always an upside!



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