Snapshot Morocco: The long road to Marrakech

Though Marrakech is only 200 kilometers from Ouarzazate, the bus ride takes almost four hours. The route takes us not just through the Atlas Mountains, but also up and down its side.

Through the High Atlas

One minute we were marveling at tr mountain, next thing we know, our bus is hugging its side. The view was spectacular: green valleys, autumn foliage in the river beds, snow capped peaks. The road was narrow though and zig zags through the mountain. As we take a rest stop after several hairpin curves, eating is the last thing on our minds (even if the guy manning the grill looks like Andrew Keegan).

We finally arrive in Marrakech, prepared for touts and chaos. We were worried for nothing it seems; it’s nothing a seasoned visitor to Quiapo and Divisoria can’t handle.

Photo by Cla Ines

Category: Morocco
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Snapshot Morocco: Ouallywood

Ouarzazate was a pleasant surprise. We were expecting another small, sleepy town, and though it is small and sleepy, it was pretty-fied to look like a bustling metropolis.

View from our balcony

There were no touts waiting to “welcome” us when we got off the bus, and we were ignored for the most part while we walked the length of Rue de Marché.

We stopped here en route to Marrakech, to visit Aït Benhaddou, a fortified ksar about 20 kilometers from here. Our driver gave us quite a treat when he veered off the road and drove us through the plains, streams and small oasis villages.

Tomorrow we’re pushing on to the last leg of our Morroco trip. Bring it on, Marrakech!

Photo by Cla Ines

Category: Morocco
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Snapshot Morocco: Erg Chebbi

We opted to have breakfast at the veranda of our hotel and this is our view:

Those little specks you see are runners and the organizers

Merzouga is a refreshing change from Fez. Sure there were touts waiting for us at the bus stop, but they don’t pester us as much.

We’re staying in the village of Hassilabied, 5 kilometers from downtown Merzouga. There are no stores or restaurants nearby, but the dunes are within walking distance. We walked a small portion of the dunes yesterday and found out why it’s better to traverse it on camel (rather, dromedaries): the sand and very fine and soft it’s an effort walking and climbing the sand dunes.

Despite the cloudless sky and the sun shining brightly, it’s pleasantly cool here. The hotel retains much of the cold from the night and it holds all through the day.

Last night after dinner, our hosts played some traditional Berber music and afterwards taught us how to play. It’s hard not to like this place.

Photo by Cla Ines

Category: Morocco
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Snapshot Morocco: Still in your Fez

Actually, not as much anymore. After some rest and knowing what to expect, we were able to cope better when we ventured back into the medina.

Inside our riad

We went back to the Ville Nouvelle to buy our bus ticket to Merzouga. The rain has been pouring on and off the entire morning, adding to our annoyance. Only the ankle-deep flood waters remain of the rain when we reached our destination, and as the sky starts to clear, we feel our moods lift.

Neither one of us was in any hurry to go back to the medina, so after booking and exhanging currencies, we wandered around the city, aimless and without a care for direction. We don’t have any specific destination in mind; we just want to walk.

It was a very pleasant walk. The locals hardly paid any attention to us, which we gladly welcomed. Those who did merely greeted us bonjour and went on their way.

We were in better spirits when we dived back into the chaos of the medina, now more immune to the calls of the shop owners. Unfortunately, this has made us into snobs and we now ignore any greeting that comes from within the shops. For me, it seemed better that way for it greatly lessen any stress and prevent any aggravation.

We made a cursory walk down the medina’s main street, following the path set on Lonely Planet. While the wares, the colors, the sounds and smell teased the senses and tempted the shoppingera within, it just wasn’t enough.

Photo by Cla Ines

Category: Morocco
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Snapshot Morocco: In your Fez

Writing the previous posts were effortless. The words flowed freely out of my head and through my thumbs tapping away at my iPod’s screen. The riad we’re staying in at Fes has wi-fi, but I couldn’t bring myself to post anything last night.

The landscape between Chefchaouen and Fes

After Meknes and Chefchaouen, Fes was mildly disconcerting. The touts are more aggressive, the people more persistent.

In every trip, there is always that one place or experience that doesn’t enchant you. So far, we’re disenchanted with Fes. It’s the first time that we are actually more comfortable in the Ville Nouvelle, rather than the Medina. Maybe we just haven’t given the place enough time to endear itself to us, or maybe the non-stop travel for the past days are catching up to us. Nature even adds to the misery by bringing in the rain, which stops us from leaving the comforting confines of the riad and the router’s coverage area.

Bread, bread and even more bread

While we are grateful to be where we are right now, I think some of the novelty is wearing off. Last night we gladly traded the ubiquitous tagine for pizza and paella. I know I sound like a complete brat saying these things, but i really do hope things pick up in Fes before we leave again tomorrow night.

Photo by Cla Ines

Category: Morocco