Ourtzarh to Fès:
Just outside the little town of Ourtzarh that we had passed on our way to our campsite, the big Saturday market was in full swing. We had already noticed every donkey in the region was headed towards the town with a rider and empty panniers on each side.
We parked up amongst the chaos of cars, vans, donkeys and people, and wandered into the melee. Row upon row of market stalls in alternately muddy and dusty alleyways sold everything. At one end was a cattle, sheep and goat market. Evidence of slaughtering on the site can in the form of rivulets of blood coming down the dry creekbed. Under a large roof, all kinds of grain and flour were beimng sold in large white bags. One row was devoted to cobblers, with all kinds of shoes being repaired, even white sports shoes. Another held all shapes and sizes of live chickens and turkeys. Have them pot ready if you wish too - they were being plucked and the innards were being tossed aside on bare ground. Dates, olives and all sorts of less identifiable goods were for in another section, clothes in another. Fruit and vegetables were in abundance and fresh bread in the typical round flat shapes as well. Shampoos and toothbrushes nestled alongside screwdrivers and steel washers on some stalls. Ingenious buckets, basins and vessels shaped like amphorae were crafted out of old tyres. Beds and chests and mattresses shared space with doors of all varieties, some being made on the spot. We bought a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, some bread and some electrical, plugs for a spare connection for the van.
Having parked in a space on the roadside before we entered the market, we then had to fight the chaos on the road to get to the other side. Vans and trucks, cars and trolleys scattered themselves higgledy-piggledy all over the road. There was barely room for one car width and mini buses aggressively squeezed through first and then nearly clipped wing mirrors. Added to this were people dragging unfortunate goats and sheep in front of the van towards their own where the squealing animals were hoisted into the back along with their sacks of flour and lengths of hose.
But fight through we did - successfully too, if success is counted by the lack of trauma to wing mirrors and body panels.
And so on to our first big city in Morocco, Fès. The now only undulating country was golden with ripening wheat and barley interspersed with the sage -green of olive trees ascending the hills in terraces. Scattered villages baked in the heat, some of houses made of mud brick with roofs thatched with brush covered with a layer of mud.
Fès sprawled up a hill, white and pale terracotta in the sun. The flat-roofed buildings everywhere sprouted mushrooms of thousands of satellite dishes. The road followed the city wall with its crenelated ramparts up the hill. We drove through some pretty scary traffic to get to the other side, found our campsite and relaxed a bit in the warmth.