09 January 2013


Today we are taking it easy.

Figuig's new suburb

Figuig’s new suburb

We did two big walks around Figuig already and we decided to just do a short one for sunset.
The rest of the day we spend relaxing, like the local Figuigians. Late breakfast and a coffee at “our” cafe down the street. We have stopped in every morning so far and the patron has already remembered our drinks, so now we just give a wave and the coffees show up.

Mainstreet Figuig. Nice and quiet.

Mainstreet Figuig. Nice and quiet.

You might be wondering why we are staying here, in the middle of nowhere, for so long.. There is something special about Figuig.
Not the town proper.. much like other small towns. New ugly cement construction, painted pink or orange or not painted at all.
Not the food.. We are living on chocolate and home made salad sandwiches as there seems to be only one snack bar/restaurant serving food and it is not the best.
Not the night live.. There is none, besides having a coffee at a terrace and it is too cold at night to be out anyway.
Not the countryside.. Although stunning here, we can probably find similar views elsewhere in Morocco.
Not the hotel.. After Midelt, everything is a disappointment.
Therefore it must be the people. Or more accurately, the lack of people..
The locals are nice, but not overly so. And that is exactly why we like it so much. This town might have been touristy once, but it doesn’t feel like anybody here is reliant on tourism to earn their money. Nobody is hassling us to stay at their hotel, sit on their camel, take their tour, visit their carpet shop or eat at their families restaurant.
Not that is has been that bad in Morocco, but it is soooo nice to get away from it all.

We quietly walk the streets, the ruins and the farmland, with only the occasional glance from the locals. They are happy to see us and greet us profusely with the standard Salaam or Bonjour, but then go on their way, and let us continue on ours. No begging or hands up, no trying to have a conversation with us to find out where we are from.
The town is quite and peaceful. Broad streets and many parked cars, but most people seem to prefer to go by bicycle or donkey cart. A lot of shops lining the main street, but besides the standard little supermarkets and the fruit shop, most stores are closed. Their are several army bases around and a large police force, as we are so close to the Algerian border, but the soldiers are friendly and the police cruise around on quad bikes.
Town is growing, so we guess we are not the only people that like it out here.


The nomads camping out

The nomads camping out

The landscapes are stunning and it is great to be able to enjoy the silence and hear the birds. It is amazing how many colours there can be in the mountains in so small an area. From yellows and greys, to reds and purple, to dark brown and black.
That was our goal for today’s small walk : to see the colours change with sunset. At about 15.00 we set out to find a hill to sit on top. Walking out of town, close to the hotel, we see more evidence of growing Figuig. A new suburb is laid out here with new roads and electricity poles and the occasional new house. Towards the hills are the tents and herds of the nomads that are here for winter. Along the river, new palmeries are being set up and something that looks like a new five star hotel. (?)

Desert sunset colours

Desert sunset colours

We find the smallest hill that looks like it might have a good view and head up it. A small hill, as today is supposed to be our day off..
The views are nice, but not great and we keep going up the next big one. This hill is covered in loose black rock. It is not easy going. It is the same rock that we have seen lying around in heaps on the flat. As it turns out, they are quarrying this hill for construction material. In between all the rocks are thistles and beautiful little white flowers. Always amazing how life can thrive in such conditions.
Upon making it to the top of this hill, we see a big army base and a power station. Not the view we were after, so we go along the ridge until it is behind us. Here we have views of the big mountains in the distance. Rugged and heavily grooved. We sit and wait for the light show.. It is not happening.. (We have been spoiled in the Australian desert and now expect all mountains to go bright red for sunset.)

We eye up another, even bigger hill. By now we have to admit that our nice evening walk has turned into another hike. We slide down the hill with the loose rocks and start climbing the next one. From here we do get a good view, this time over town and the mountains separating Morocco and Algeria. The light is finally doing what it is supposed to and the mountains are turning lilac and purple. The lights in town pop on and the mosques start their call of prayer for sunset. We can count about ten minarets from here and they all start at slightly different times, singing through the evening hush.
That is our cue to head back. Again we are further out then we thought and we are happy the streetlights are on for the walk back.



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