Our last day of pain in Marrakesh

Trip Start Mar 14, 2009
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Trip End Ongoing


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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Apparently nothing is free in Marrakesh. We where caught out last night in a thunder storm, the likes of which we have not seen since leaving Australia all those years ago. We found shelter under an umbrella which we where than asked to pay for the use of the leaking thing, 3 pounds. We went back into the rain and got soaked through.

We have spent our last morning trying to figure out how the local bus system works, but as there are no signs on anything and we are afraid if we ask the locals that they will make us pay them for their information, we figure that we will just walk the hour to the train station and hope it just doesn't rain like it did yesterday.

We have been trying to see the real Morocco by getting out of the city. We hired a guide who took us for a day trip to the valleys around the Atlas mountains (900DH). It is a bit of a hike through winding mountain roads with a shear drop down  one side. In most countries this would be a well signed one way system, here of coarse not, to let on coming traffic know that someone is approaching the corner, drivers must beep their horns constantly. On a straight, one will drive as close to the edge as possible while the other will try and scale the cliff face. Dino sat by the window while Shona just generally tried to ignore everything but the scenery. It is an amazing area filled with hidden valleys, cliff side villages and trickling mountain streams.

Our first stop was a small Berber village of Imlil, 1740m above see level. It is a small village wedged into a crevice which shuts during the harsh winters. Imlil is the last stop on the road before hitting the high Atlas. Taking in the view we relaxed and sipped on our mint tea.

Before we hit our next town we drove through the Ourika valley where our driver took us to a couple of shops, which generally started to annoy Shona as she really just wanted to take in the view and get away from the whole commercial scene. The only really good thing about stopping was that at one of the shops our driver managed to drop the walking stick of a one legged driver down a well and spent the next 20 minutes fishing it out. He got tipped highly for his entertainment. The Ourika valley is a beautiful place full of red clay and cherry blossoms.

At our final stop of Setti Fatma we hiked through the lower valleys to the first of the seven waterfalls in the area. I would like to say what an amazing sight but with the graffiti and plastic bags draped in all the trees, it felt more of a shame then anything else. We wore our hiking boots as our only other option is sandals but apparently this is the foot wear of choice for the locals who clambered everywhere. Our guide showed Shona the correct foot and hand holds to climb the next steep section while Dino took photos. This may have been a mistake as Dino then found himself drenched trying to climb up the stream rather then where the guide had showed him. Our guide was like a mountain goat as he would just jump gracefully from rock to rock while Dino and Shona laboured after him. Despite the rubbish and the shops it was a great finish to the day.

We had arranged dinner for ourselves at the Riad as we thought we would be very hungry after such a long day, however this proved a mistake. We had a three coarse meal at Setti Fatma and then a four coarse meal at our Riad. We where in quiet a bit of pain and chose not to go out that night.

To top our pain level up a bit more, we decided to take a 3 hour camel ride in the country side surrounding Marrakesh. It was a great idea. We had a snack of Beghrir (fried pancakey sort of things which you eat with honey and are fabulous) and mint tea. After waking up rather stiff this morning it should be a fun hour walk to the train station.

We will let you know if we pay the extra cash and just catch a taxi.
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