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.

MA81postpanoleuh2

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…

MA78postpanoleuh1
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

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