My tour through Morocco runs the risk of being an "on the bus, off the bus" monologue......
......or at least thats how it feels in reality. Im going to start developing a phobia of mini vans soon.
We left the desert before 9am yesterday, and late in the freezing afternoon we reached Todra Gorge. Three hundred metre high cliffs tower over the miniature-looking three storey hotels, perched on the bank of a river running right the way through. With dark clouds hanging low in the sky this space is both sinister and spectacular. Our scheduled walk was rained out again, cancelled due to some well timed thunder and the threat of flash flooding.
I lost my sense of humour for the umpteenth time when our hotel room was devoid of both hot water and electricity. I hadnt had a hot shower in over three days and my i-things were all on low battery so the situation was desperate. Eventually we got to change to a fully functioning room about 9pm that night, and I swear it was the best shower I ever had.
After a short walk through the gorge the next morning we were back on the bus for our drive through the Dades Valley. I swear Im going to have trouble sorting my photos when I get home because each of these valleys looks exactly like the last - picture perfect date palm oases flanked by adobe buildings and red cliffs. Absolutely stunning.
We lunched in Ouarzazate, Morocco's movie studio capital, boasting locations for films such as Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, The Mummy, and Lawrence of Arabia. There is something decidedly contrived about this town. It is pristine. Too pristine. Dont get me wrong it is a beautiful town, but it doesnt look like it belongs in the Morocco we've been through.
The group mutinied when the tour guide tried to shuffle us back onto the van straight after lunch. We are sick of spending the bulk of our days in the mini van and being driven through so many interesting towns that we could walk around and discover, only to stop at some dodgy roadhouse in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do. So we said we wanted to explore. 15 minutes he gave us!! So off we went. The Cinema Museum, next to the restaurant, was a kitsch series of sets from movies and TV shows from about ten years ago. The most interesting section was the display of old cinematic equipment from the middle of last century: cameras, editing suites, sound mixing decks, and projectors. Movie making antiques. Aaron, you would have loved it.
Begrudgingly we got back in the bus and a short drive later arrived at our destination for the night. Ait Benhaddou kasbah is another Unesco site. Im sure the name is Berber for "wind tunnel", because it has not let up since we arrived. Established in the 12th century but reaching its peak in the 18th, Ait Benhaddou is now largely deserted, though we were fortunate to have a quick tour through the house of one of the residents. It was basic, a two storey mud-brick attached house of several rooms. The Kasbah was a key setting for the Gladiator movie, and the movie-set tower and gates are still here. Once again we were sandblasted around the site but it was wonderful to explore it.
Its sad, but right now we are just keen to get to Marrakech so we dont have to spend any more time in the bus. But there is still another day of driving tomorrow!!