I feel that if I write the last piece on Morocco, it will be as if I close a chapter in my book of life that I struggled to keep open. Then again, this is life – all about moving on while keeping all those little fragments of experiences and feelings that shape your character. And Morocco managed to leave a lot of its stardust inside me.
Before arriving to Morocco, the only things that I had in my mind about the country were Fez and the dessert. When we left from Rissani, I felt as if another trip to the big unknown started – I knew nothing about what to expect from now on. For some reason a part of me believed that we would continue to see dessert-like landscapes till we reached the sea. Soon I realized how wrong I was going to be!
We set our course towards Tinghir. From the dessert and the calm sand dunes, we suddenly found ourselves driving next to high mountains and imposing gorges. A marvelous contrast.
We found a nice place to stay and the landlord insisted that his son showed us the old city. It was apparent that this was not what his son wanted, but he could not go against his father, no matter what we said. We reached the old city and he became all the more reluctant to walk with us. “What the heck,” I said, “I am moving on to take some pictures”. And it was then that he broke the news… “dont go there, it’s the drugs lords place”. Oups! I was about to start shouting why on earth he chose to take us there, but then again, I guess this was a little bit his small retaliation, so I let it go… we were the bloody tourists on his neck…
Putting the drug lords aside, Tinghir was a truly lovely place. Nothing terribly exciting, but built on a wonderful surrounding and full of local life. Cafes and small restaurants with polite and happy people. And while all these may be valid, I think the reason I really liked the place is because we had an amazing dinner there! Yes, you can say anything you want, but keeping your belly happy is always one of the most pleasant experiences!
Off we go, heading towards Ouarzazate. The road again was full of surprises and amazing scenes, especially as we crossed the Dades gorge. And then we found ourselves at Ouarzazate and immersed ourselves in the fake world of modern cinema. You see in Ouarzazate there are movie studios that are used to bring up whole cities and huge paper palaces! Even Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO world heritage site, seems like a place built for movies.
For me however, the most beautiful part was when we crossed vertically the Atlas mountains as we drove from Ouarzazate towards Essaouira. From the dessert-like landscape, we again approached high mountains, rivers, snowy tops and cloudy skies. The small road, full of turns at the edge of the hill is an adventure with those huge old trucks (fully decorated with thousands small knit patterns) coming from the opposite direction, but the view outside is breathtaking.
It is a long drive from Ouarzazate to Essaouira. We arrived during the night, but the smell of the ocean was captivating. We had no idea what the place was like until we woke up next morning to find a beautiful and more importantly seriously easy-going place. The whole vibe was totally different from whatever we had encountered in Morocco thus far and the presence of the sea was calming me down. As if I knew where to stand now. I guess being an islander makes me feel at place when the sea is on my sight. It sure is more familiar to watch a wave at the end of the sand instead of another and another sand hill.
Essaouira was the last stop in our journey before we hit our final destination: Marrakesh. Marrakesh marked the largest city we visited in Morocco with all the positives and negatives that come with it. Traffic, western-type block of flats and roads, mcdonalds and the rest. But on the other hand, when you approached the medina of the city, most of these are left behind and you again feel at place. I can’t say that Marrakesh was an important stop in our trip. It sure was one of the most touristic places we visited. But in the end, I can only keep two things inside my head. The first was when we visited the amazing water falls of Ouzoud. And the second one – yes I know what you are thinking – was the dinner the moroccan family that hosted us prepared for us. Maybe one of the best dinners I had ever had… That almost ended in a nightmare as I could not digest the quantity of different foods we ate!!!
The plane takes off. I feel tired. This sweet fatigue that you feel after having done something extraordinary. That makes your body stay still so that your mind can go through all the amazing things that you have just lived and witnessed.
Oh truly incredible Morocco, au revoir!!