29 December 2012

Midelt
Walk
Kasbah

Midelt, a town on the edge (of the middle Atlas)

Midelt, a town on the edge (of the middle Atlas)

Exploring Midelt today.
As there don’t seem to be any must-sees in town, we decided to just go for a wander. (There are abandoned mines in the area, but expensive to get to)

Midelt is a medium sized town. Most of it looks fairly modern. We see some views in the distance and head that way.

The not-so-natural part of the river.

The not-so-natural part of the river.

Crossing the river we make a detour and walk along it for a bit. A local boy informs us that two children drowned here a while back when the water was higher. It’s sad, but it is a beautiful spot still.

Donkeys are always welcome at the graveyard.

Donkeys are always welcome at the graveyard.

We go up a little hill next and find out half of it is a graveyard. It is completely unmaintained, but we try to avoid walking near the graves. We are still not sure about the Muslim customs around graveyards, so try to be respectful.
The views are great even though we are not high up.

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On one side the new town with red hills in the background, on the other side the snow covered peaks of the high Atlas.
We also see that the mud Kasbah of the old town is much bigger than we thought. Making our way there, we again run into a group of kids. They are really sweet here. “Bonjour, Ca va?” And then they start going in Arabic. No idea what they are saying, but never has one asked us for money or other free handouts.

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Exit stage right.

Exit stage right.

The Kasbah turned out to be amazing. It is well maintained for the most part and quite a few people are still living in it. It does not seem to have running water, as the nearby fountain is very popular and women walk back and forth carrying water containers.
Again the Kasbah is a maze.

Go towards the light

Go towards the light

This one has lots of tunnel-like streets that are sometimes lit by holes above, but other times are as dark as night. The locals point us in the right directions though, and we manage a nice walk without getting lost! It has been good to be back in a mud town after our time up north. There is something organic and natural about these places and they have a much better feel than the new concrete monstrosities.

We slowly make our back to the new town. There is not much to discover here, as most looks like any other town. There is a big statue of an apple though and an old church. There are supposed to still be nuns in town, but we don’t see any.

A healthy dinner

A healthy dinner

Along the way we go past a alcohol shop and as they can be hard to find, we indulge.
Next door in the supermarket we splurge a bit more on cheese (real cheese from Austria) and bickies. All set for a night in our comfy room!

AA

28 December 2012

Kenifra to Midelt

Khenifra : Not the prettiest town ever, but we liked it!

Khenifra : Not the prettiest town ever, but we liked it!

We slept in a bit today. The night was quite noisy as our hotel is right next to the bus station. The buses honk their horns all through the night… We were planning to spend another day here, but decided to move on to Midelt. After coffee and a quick walk around, we grabbed our bags and bought a ticket for the 13.00 bus. We had to hang around for an hour, but that is not too bad. The bus for Midelt was already there, but we were not allowed in yet.

On the road again...

On the road again…

We started to get a bit worried, when by 12.50 we were still not allowed in. And when we asked the driver, he seemed to be saying that this bus would not go to Midelt.
We checked back with the ticket office, hoping to find out which bus to get on. Here things got confusing. The ticket man does not speak much French (and neither do we) but he started yelling “Money, money, give me money” We had already bought the tickets, and when we showed him, he took them off us.. (?) What is going on?

Going places that I've never been..

Going places that I’ve never been..

Luckily another customer, in line behind us, jumped in and translated what was happening. His English was close to perfect. As it turns out, the 13.00 bus was cancelled. (Don’t know why nobody told us..) If we gave our tickets back, plus some extra money, the ticket guy was going to give us a refund. (the extra money was just because he did not have the exact change.) We did not have the exact change either, so our friendly helper chipped in 10 Dirham.

Seein' things that I may never see again

Seein’ things that I may never see again

This was really nice, but we still weren’t going anywhere. The next bus was not until 15.00 and we could not buy tickets for that one yet. Sigh. Public transport can be fun, but mostly it is just slow..
Back to a cafe for more coffee and a bakery for pastries. Then back to the bus station for the 15.00 bus. We debated taking a grand taxi, but couldn’t be bothered. If the 15.00 bus also gets cancelled we will just stay another night.
This one was easy though. Got ticket, found bus, got in. Unfortunately due to all the delays we would now not arrive in Midelt till after dark. Oh, well.

And I can't wait to get on the road again..

Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway

We settled in for the drive and nibbled away at the baked goods. We love the bakeries here. For a Dirham or two you can get really nice pastries, filled with custard or cream and covered in chocolate!

Again the landscape is beautiful. All of Morocco seems to be stunning in different ways. We make our way out of the mid Atlas and start to see the snow covered peaks of the high Atlas in front. The terrain goes from green hills to a more arid, brown dusty landscape. Agriculture and small towns in between.

Insisting that the world keep turning our way

Insisting that the world keep turning our way

Arriving in Midelt, we got a guy wanting to take us to “a Berber family” to stay with. We are still skeptical (and slightly scared) of people instantly and over proudly stating that they are Berber. We declined, as we preferred to stay in a hotel with showers..
Off course this was not a problem either, as his family runs a hotel “only two minutes away.” Again we declined. We can find our own hotel.

We had already seen a big lit up sign for hotel just around the corner. At arriving there, a new tout picked us up two meters before the entrance and the guy from before, came out of the front door. If we are staying here, it looks like we will be paying for two peoples commission. We ask the price anyway, and it does turn out to be too expensive. 200 Dirham for a double room, or 80 Dirham a person in a simple room, but then we are not allowed to have showers.. (?!?)

And our wayis on the road again.

And our way
is on the road again.

We ditched all helpful people and stoically followed the signs for downtown. The next hotel certainly looked cheap, but the bed was so bad, that we didn’t even ask for the price. Keep on going..
By now it is dark, getting cold, and there don’t seem to be many hotels in this town. We go down the busiest streets and eventually do see another hotel. We are shown a beautiful room, Double bed, sofa’s, TV, en suite, heating (!) beautifully decorated. Obviously above our price range. We asked if they might have a smaller room for a bit less.. One more floor up, and we find simple heaven. A basic room, but still en suite and heating! We haggle for a good price (130 a night) and after popping out for a quick dinner, settle in. We could stay here for a week. The shower is scorching hot, the room is warm, there is even heating in the bathroom. The only downside was that there was no decent movie on our cable TV 🙂 Luxury!

AA

27 December 2012

Grand taxi pick up Ain Leuh
Waterfall
Lake
Khenifra

We arranged for a taxi to come pick us up at the hotel at 10.00. Why drag our bags up hill to the taxi stand, if they are willing to come get you?
A coffee at the downstairs cafe and a quick homemade sandwich.

Our driver for the day id not speak much French. While we are still in town, with many translators around, we tried to communicate. As the drive was supposed to be beautiful, is it possible to stop along the way sometimes for a quick photo? According to the translator, this would cost an extra 50 Dirhams, (even though our driver seemed to be fine with it) we declined.
As it turned out, the driver was fine with it, and while he did not stop much, he did slow down anytime there was a nice view so we could take a not-so-blurry photo.

The sheep were camera shy.

The sheep were camera shy.

Starting in the hills above Ain Leuh we started seeing snow on the ground. Our driver demonstrated how cold it was overnight, by spinning the car on some very icy bits on the road. We are going to be dropped of in Khenifra, but the road we are taking is the back road. Not many cars along here.
We go up in the mountains through thick pine forest and hit a plateau. Not having been to Mongolia, I don’t know what the tundra looks like, but I imagine it looks like here. Plains with a little grass covering and quite a bit of mud. There are little temporary shelters set up by , we assume, the local nomads. Built out of wooden poles and plastic. They have got sheepies and goats here. Further along we hit small hills with a lot of agricultural activity.

Great landscapes once again.

Great landscapes once again.

The road is not good everywhere, but our driver is taking his time and the views are stunning. Every now and then we stop so our guy can ask for directions. It seems like he has not done this road before..

After about 40 kilometres we arrive at the Oum er Rbia cascades. We have an hour here to walk around, so don’t waste any time and get going. Even after more than two months in Morocco I am still surprised to see the tourism industry everywhere. This was not an easy or cheap place for us to come to, but apparently they do get a lot of self drive tourists through here in summer. Tourist stalls and cafe’s all over, but luckily most are closed and the place is peaceful.

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Oum er Rbia is the source of Morocco’s largest river. It goes east from here to the Atlantic just above El Jadida.
Along the little gorge, up to the waterfall, the water comes out of the rock walls. Most of it we can’t see as there are so many little lunch shelters build. It reminds us a bit of Cambodia.
We go up and start seeing the falls from a far.

From here to the Atlantic.

From here to the Atlantic.

The colors of the rocks are stunning in red and orange. A bit of scrambling along the rocks, trying not to get our feet wet and over a rickety bridge we get to a good viewing point. The water is clear, the rocks warm and the sun bright. It is a gorgeous spot.
Over some more rocks and a wooden plank, brings us to the main falls. It looks like a great swimming pool for summer. We hang out for a bit, but quite a few local tourist have arrived and we move on to make space.

Inside the cave.

Inside the cave.

On the other side of the river is a little cave. Unfortunately we did not bring our torches, but Andrew gives it a go with the camera flash. Water levels are high and the cave is flooded inside. We have a bit of time left, so find a spot in the sun and enjoy the silence. The locals living here are about with their laundry and giving the carpets an airing.
Back to the taxi to get to Khenifra. About 10 kilometers further we stop at a crossroads. Right to Khenifra and left to Aguelmane Azigza. A deep and dark lake.
Off course to visit this was not part of the day, so our driver turns right. But after a minute or so he stops the car. We don’t realy understand his Arabic, but it sounds like he wants to take a detour and show us the lake. We happiply accept!

Lake side cafe.

Lake side cafe.

At arriving we are stunned. This place is magical! A big blue lake with cedar forest behind. The edges of the lake are frozen and a sheepherd is taking her flock around. There is one house here, overlooking the lake and we are almost tempted to go up and buy them out of their house. This is a place we could live!
On the side is a make shift cafe set up. Tables and chairs spread out over the grass and they even have a pool table. We thank our guy for taking the time to do this small detour. He looks very happy too, and we think this is also his first visit here.

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Don't chop down all the trees!

Don’t chop down all the trees!

Now then, to Khenifra. The country side changes once again as we go down. More and more agriculture and the area is still green and wet.
Closer to Khenifra, a strange mix of poor farming communities with, what looks like, the richer city folk villas.
We get dropped at the bus station after passing a weird fountain decicated to horses..
A hotel is nearby and as it is only 100 a night we take it. Sophia and David will be taking the night bus to Ourzazate for their last days in Morocco, so they don’t need a room. We keep their bags in our room and set out for lunch.

Going home after a days hard work.

Going home after a days hard work.

Khenifra is a big city and many lunch options are easily found. We settle on veggies and chicken. As it is only 14.00 and our friends bus doesn’t leave till midnight, we have some time to kill. We decide to explore Khenifra downtown. The city is a bit like many here, concrete and painted a faded orange. Not very attractive, but it has a good feel about it.

Good luck and see you later!

Good luck and see you later!

We spend the evening hopping coffee shops and playing cards. (Sophia is lethal for once)
By 23.30 it is time for our goodbyes. Again it has been great to travel with these two, and we will be missing them. Sophia’s eternal optimism and David’s model poses 🙂
Hopefully we will catch up back in Australia.

AA

26 December 2012

Grand taxi
Big cedar trees and monkey
Snow and snowman
Grand taxi to Ain Leuh
hotel
Walk market waterfall
Grand taxi negotiations
hill
cards
Hotel showers..are they that hard??

Barbary monkey

Barbary monkey

Waking up in Azrou. As yesterday was miserable weather, we did not make it out to the cedar trees. So this is our first goal for today. We hire a grand taxi to take us there and back with an hour waiting time. Not cheap, but as we can split it between four people, it is not too bad.. We were hoping to have more time there, but taxi drivers do not like waiting, and charge more for this than actual driving time..

Just about to yawn..

Just about to yawn..

Hopefully we have enough time to find the monkeys!
The cedar trees should be easy to find, as they are the biggest in the country. Some are 800 years old and really really tall. Cedre Gouraud is the name of the one legendary tree.  150 feet high and 25 feet wide.

God help me.. more tourists!

God help me.. more tourists!

On arriving it turns out that the monkeys are right at the parking lot. They are everywhere! Somehow you can’t help being happy around monkeys, especially as these are very quiet ones that like posing for photo’s. We guess they are not always this quiet though as a few are walking around with wounds as if they have been in a serious fight.
These are Barbary apes, the same as the ones we saw at Ouzoud falls. Light coloured apes with big behinds! It is strange to see apes and snow in the same place. Just not something you associated together.
A few are hiding out in the forest, staying out of the way of the four wheel drive cars going passed. Other monkeys have fun trying to take of the mirrors and windshield wipers.

A panoramic photo makes the trees look tall.

A panoramic photo makes the trees look tall.

After a while we begin to wonder where the famous cedar trees are.. We are in a forest with big trees, but nothing as big as we had heard. There is one big, dead tree at the parking lot, but surely that’s not all? It turns out that it is the right tree now.  The original was felled at the turn of the century.  From then, they moved the sign from tree to tree.

Its Christmas in Morocco!

Its Christmas in Morocco!

We go for a way up the icy dirt track. The little water puddles are still frozen over and the pine tree branch are covered in ice. Snow on the ground in between the trees and bushes. A little bit of a winter wonderland. As Sophia and David have never had a white Christmas, we allow them this one. It is not snowing, and it is the second day of Christmas, it is a bit of a stretch.. We study the different snow and ice crystals going up.

It's frosty the snowman!

It’s frosty the snowman!

From the distance we see a Snowman! The snow is too hard already to make our own, so we walk over and adopt this one. David even lets him borrow his beanie for a bit. The snow is thick here and we sink in up to our ankles. It is cold!!

Very pretty, but cold!

Very pretty, but cold!

Unfortunately our time here is running out and we have to make our way back. The taxi is waiting. A few more monkey photo’s because you can never have enough of those, and the car drops us back in Azrou. A coffee to warm up again and a morning well spend.

Now we need to make our way to Ain Leuh. A small Berber village further south with some waterfalls. Again we take a grand taxi and the drive is easy and pleasant.

Good thing Andrew bought a coat.

Good thing Andrew bought a coat.

We are dropped on top of the hill in town with our luggage. We have seen signs for a hotel and when we ask for directions get an escort to take us there. We almost panic, as we don’t want a tour, and are scared of the hand up later, but this guy just happens to be going the same way. It is pretty steep down into town. He turns out to take us to a different hotel, not that is makes any difference to us. Unfortunately there is no one at Hotel Laayoune. The cafe manager next door gives the hotel manager a call and we are told to wait. We notice the sign for the other hotel and quickly check out the rooms there. Nice, but a bit pricy. Eventually the manager of Laayoune arrives, and as the price is better and the rooms are fine, we check in.
The markets are on today, so we have a look around. Not different from the many many markets we have done in Morocco : Food, clothes, toys etc. The town is cute, build clinging to the hill.

Beautifull waterfall or public bathroom?

Beautifull waterfall or public bathroom?

We go up and find the famous Ain Leuh waterfall.. a bit of a disappointment as it is only small and seems to be used as a garbage dump. And a public bathroom (a guy actually took a leak above the falls as we where sitting at the bottom looking up!)

The taxi stand is nearby, so we stop in to find out how to get to the big waterfalls of
Oum er Rbia tomorrow. We eventually settle on a price for the four of us, from here to Kenifra with an hour stopover at the falls. Again this will not be a cheap trip, but we manage to get the driver to promise to pick us up from the hotel. That will spare us from dragging our luggage back up hill. Sometimes it is the little extras that make it all worth it.. 🙂
We had seen an old watchtower from town and decide to try to find that. Up, Up, Up the hills and we end up in some ruins of the old stone Kasbah. Not much is left, but the bits that are in ok condition are still inhabited. Good views all around of the mountains and a lake.

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We tried for even better views from the watchtower, but it was closed of. Down a hill, over another and back to town. Around and through some alleyways, seeing people getting on with normal life. Not any tourist here, which is nice. The locals are friendly and after dinner (chicken sandwich) we settled in for a round of cards at the downstairs cafe.
When turning in for the night we were surprised to find no one at the hotel. We had asked earlier if it was possible to get extra blankets, as it is literally freezing cold here. It was all fine, but now there is nobody to give us the blankets..
A quick hot shower than to warm up before bed, and pray that the night doesn’t get too cold. We were promised that the shower water here was actually hot (not just lukewarm as in many places) so we were looking forward to it. We never even got to test the water, as the shower turned out to be broken. The hose cannot even be attached to the water supply…

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What is the problem with showers in Morocco?!?! We have been here for over two months now and have not found many decent ones. Most are cold, or only just off cold, some are broken, dirty or outside! Yes, we are not staying in the fanciest places, but a shower should be standard. And why promise hot showers, if there aren’t any?
Crawling into bed cold and shivering…

AA

25 December 2012

Taxi to Immouzer
To Bus or not to Bus
Taxi to Azrou
Pretty in Pink hotel
Drinking like the locals

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Today we are leaving Bhalil and moving on to Azrou.
We were advised to take a taxi to Sefrou and then a taxi to Immouzzer du Kandar, followed by a bus to Azrou. As the taxi’s from Bhalil can go straight to Immouzzer, we decided to do that.
After being dropped at the taxi station in Immouzer, we dragged our bags up to the bus stop. The first bus to stop did go to Azrou, but was full. Again a friendly local came up and explained that as is was Sunday a lot of people were about, visiting the snow. We are going higher up and will be passing Ifrane, a popular fancy ski town and near by is Mischliffen, a ski area.
We can wait for the next bus in about an hour, or take a grand taxi. David walks back to the taxi station to find out how much that would be, but comes back disappointed. As it is busy there to, the prices have gone up and are more than double what the bus will cost. We decide to wait for the next bus and take our chances. A few more buses go passed, but none heading our way. When the next bus to Azrou finally shows up, it is full again. Only three people are allowed on and than only if they go all the way to Beni Mellal. Not us.
The town here does not look interesting enough to hang around, so we swallow and pay for the overpriced grand taxi.

Driving through Ifrane is a head spin.. It was set up by the French as little France, but is now know as little Switzerland. All the houses look European, really wealthy Alpine stuff. Perfect looking parks, fountains and big chalet style hotels. Good thing we are not staying here.

Can you point me to the snow?

Can you point me to the snow?

We drive on to Azrou, which turns out to be an ok town. We were dropped at an hotel that seemed fine, but the girls set of to look at some other options in town. We are planning to spend a few nights here and might as well look around for a nice place. We find one just behind the big mosque. Two nicely decorated rooms, hot showers, and Wifi for free, what more could we ask for? (Looking back : The water was not very warm and the Wifi was not actually from the hotel, but from nearby cafe’s that turned it off quite often..) We asked the manager if anybody in Morocco celebrates Christmas at all, but as it is a Muslim country hardly anybody does. He did tell us that a local hotel had some Berber entertainment tonight, that would be worth a visit.
A quick walk around the old bit of town which has a relaxed feel about it.
We went back to the hotel pretty early, because we still had those bottles of wine waiting in the luggage. Finally we could have a little in peace and quiet.
After finishing the wine (which was not the plan, but after opening the bottles, they did not last for long) we headed out for the hotel. We have heard plenty of Berber music, but David and Sophia have not really had a chance yet, so it seemed like a good plan. On arrival it was clear that the entertainment was in the bar, so we had no choice but to have more wine and join the locals. The music was fine, but the dancing entertainment was a bit limited. Two well rounded woman shaking their hips and booties. Pretty tame, but probably as racy as it gets in Morocco.
After much talking and drinking, we make our way back along the by now frozen and quite streets.

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Kind of hung over… We might feel sometimes like we are getting old and can’t handle our alcohol any more, but the two young ones (David and Sophia are 19) are actually worse off than us! Sophia does joins us for a walk around though, breakfast, fresh orange juice and a look at the views.

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First day of Christmas, no snow?

First day of Christmas, no snow?

Still no snow at the Souk

Still no snow at the Souk

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Christmas!  What?  Did something happen today?
Rain.
Rain.
Rain.
Playing Cards
Rain
Souk,
EXTRA rain
Playing Pool
A bit more rain.

AA

22 December 2012

Walk with Zack
Irrigation
Waterfall
No maintenance on good buildings – theft & Vandalism
Sefrou Medina
Zacks Shack
Back to Bhalil
Hangin’ with Ahmed

Mama Aisha after a hard mornings work

Mama Aisha after a hard mornings work

When we got up, we found Mother Aisha had been up since 6am carting water up to the cave for the day.  There is no stopping her!  Zachariah was slightly hung over from the alcohol he drank, the kif he had smoked, and the space cake he had eaten, but ready to take us for a walk to the waterfalls and around the area.

Troglodyte dwellings.  Better on the inside

Troglodyte dwellings. Better on the inside

Our first stop was up in the town, where we could get a good view of the lay of the land. During summer, it is where the women sit in the evening making little silk buttons to be sown onto wedding dresses.  Apparently this tradition was started by Jewish women, but is now continued by Berbers.  There is a lot of people that talk about the old days when the Berbers and Jews lived together in harmony.  My thoughts on this, without knowing the history or anything, is that if it worked so well together, why did they all decide to leave?
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Walking out of town, we were on top of a plateau.  It was undergoing cultivation, the same as any bit of land here that isn’t entirely made up of rocks.  A lot of large cactuses marked out individual plots.  There was one field being ploughed and seeded.

2000 year old technology.  Still better than today's

2000 year old technology. Still better than today’s

Wandering around, Zachariah took us to where a deep valley opened up.  From a little distance, you would not even know it was there.  Slowly winding our way down, we could see the river flowing at the bottom.  About half way down we came across an irrigation canal, and followed this.  The construction is fairly new, but mainly just repairs of an old Roman set up.  There are even sections where they have tunnelled through the rock to keep the water flowing where they want it. As we descended we could see laundry being hung out on the other side of the valley.  People here are still using small caves as their houses.  Not sure if it is a temporary set up whilst looking after the flocks with another place in town, or if it is their home.  Most probably it is their home year round. We cross over the river and find a lock system, still in use diverting the water off into different directions and hights.  It is amazing the amount of work and knowledge used in their construction.  From here, we got a peek at a building that appeared through the trees.  It looked impressive.  Built on the side of the hill, with a good view.

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The waterfall is staring at me!

The waterfall is staring at me!

As we got closer, we found out that the building was derelict.  The insides have been gutted, with everything of value being taken.  I can understand this to an extent.  If the building has been abandoned, and you need something for your place.  However the mindless vandalism that goes with it I cannot.  The building itself is near a waterfall, and when it was made, the person took their time.  Constructing an elaborate series of viewing platforms and a small pool for swimming underneath.  The pool is silted up, with only the stream going through, but the terraces are still there and in fairly good condition. It would have been marvellous to spend a few days there when it was in its glory.  It is still a very nice place to relax for a while, and in summer would be fantastic.  The person that built the place died years ago, and his children closed it down and abandoned it.  A shame, but that’s the way it is.  Apparently it is for sale, but would need to be demolished and rebuilt now.
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The Gates of Sefrou  Once you go in, you may never come out

The Gates of Sefrou Once you go in, you may never come out

From this waterfall, we walked the back way to Sefrou.  It is a pretty walk, and there is water and plants everywhere.  Occasionally you can see doors built into the cliff side, but there is no indicators on if they are garage’s, storage, or houses.  Back in Sefrou, we could admire the walls built up around the old town.  When the French were here they introduced a law saying that new constructions could only be on the hills, leaving the fertile land below for crops.  This is why Sefrou was known as the Garden of Morocco.  Houses on the hills, with gardens and fields surrounding it.  Now, however the town is spreading out in all directions.  The Medina is like most other places we have seen.  Small winding streets filled with vendors and customers.  Fruit & Veg stalls side by side with Mobile phone shops and tailors.  There are barbers, gold and shoes on offer everywhere you look.  We were given a quick tour of this by Zachariah, after he hit us up for money to go buy more alcohol.

How can we get out of here politely?  Wait a sec, we have already paid him!

How can we get out of here politely? Wait a sec, we have already paid him!

At the end of the “tour” we were back at his place.  A small room on the roof of a building.  Simply laid out with a small place for cooking and his bed.  Not much, but only 350Dh a month in rent.  Drinking tea and by now, wanting to be out of there.  Zachariah is OK, and although Anna had her alarm bells going off, we think he was harmless.  Although, by now, I was thoroughly sick of the same stories being told every 5 minutes.  He would keep muttering things along the lines of Janice Joplin coming back alive, and singing snippets of songs.  We think that back in the day, he had a bad trip and is not all there mentally.  When we could, we made our excuses and left.  It was too late to move on by now, and we hadn’t planned on going to Sefrou at all.  Getting lost as we tried to find the taxi station, and eventually making it back to Bhalil at dusk.

Sheet, or traditional dress?  Most wear plain white

Sheet, or traditional dress? Most wear plain white

Bhalil is a pretty little town, and there is one street that has a deep canal running through the centre.  Although dry at the moment, you can imagine what it would be like with fast flowing water.  There are many small bridges crossing it every 20 or so meters.  All the way up the hill.  It gives the town a bit of special charm.  The special thing about the town, other than the troglodyte dwellings (caves) is that it was founded by the Romans.  There are people born here that look Irish.  They have red hair and freckles.  The traditional dress is still a white toga, the same as it has been for centuries.

Flying Rats in still life

Flying Rats in still life

Now we were here for another night.  This was not a problem though, and Mother Aisha had cooked us dinner!  When we were in Sefrou, we had gotten veggies together to cook, but we were not allowed to use them.  Dinner turned out to be a chicken tanjine, and was fantastic.  She was feeling better at the time, and was happy to watch us eat it all.  During the night Zachariah turned up again.  He had a long conversation with her.  This turned to mortality, and what would happen when she left.  She was worried that the cave would be abandoned, and since she was born there, and all her children were born there, she wanted someone to continue the old traditions.  I think she realises that she is the last of a generation, and with her passing, a lot of the history, culture and traditions will go with her.  It was a bit depressing, and we felt rather awkward being there.  On that note however, she is a wonderful woman, cared for by the entire village, and we feel honoured to have had the chance to meet her.

Ahmed, our friendly neighbour that can get whatever you would like

Ahmed, our friendly neighbour that can get whatever you would like

The rest of the evening was spent with Ahmed.  A sweet guy living next door that really cares for Mother Aisha.  He & his wife were fantastic, and at one stage when we could get a translator, he said there was no need, as we were doing well as it was!  Even though they only spoke Berber.

We were quite pleased to hear the next morning that the disturbance we had heard during the night was Zachariah misbehaving, and she had beaten the crap out of him!

AA