Sunday, August 10, 2008

Zagora to Tinerhir, Morocco

The next morning we awoke and were lucky to reach the main road and precisely cross paths with a minibus headed north towards Zagora. In Zagora, we waited just a few minutes to get into a grands taxi to Ouarzazate. There was a man, Aissa, who approached me in Zagora. He was going to take the same taxi to Ouarzazate, and asked me where I was headed. I told him that that night I hoped to reach Tinerhir, and he told me that he also was headed there, that that was where he was from. He said if I wanted, I could stay at his home, and he could show me around the area. I took his number after he spoke to Mohamed as well. At Ouarzazate, just a few minutes to fill up the taxi to Klaa. In Klaa I split ways with Catherine and Mohamed, and off I was to Boumalne de Dades. In Boumalne, I jumped into a minibus headed up to the Dades Gorge. I was unsure of whether I cared to visit the Dades Gorge anyway, and I think I was simply too exhausted and hot to enjoy anything at that point. I can recognize why people enjoy the gorge, with Kasbahs (ancient forts) dotted along the cliffs, but I was done. I hitched a ride back to Boumalne and caught the bus to Tinerhir.

Tinerhir felt like a completely different world. As I got off the bus, locals smiled warmly and welcomed me, advising me of where the nearest Teleboutique was in case I needed to make a phone call. A few would-be guides approached but when I informed them that I already knew someone in town, they said sorry and wished me a nice stay. Wow.

Aissa came to meet me and we went to his hairdressing shop, which he closed so that we could go for a walk. Winding streets in the Ville Ancienne, the old part of town with the mud houses, women washing with buckets in the streets. We stopped for tea in the house of Aicha, his neighbor, who was thrilled with my limited Arabic and Berber vocabulary. We continued down into the roads, and we emerged on the palmeraie; dazzling green plots of land awash with everything you could dream of. We walked amongst dates, olives, figs, almonds, corn, pomegranates, apples, pears, potatoes, onions, different spices…it was gorgeous. Donkeys piled high with fresh crops being pulled along by women and children.

We finished with a panoramic view of the city, the red mud buildings contrasting with the green palmeraie spreading into the mountains. We went back to Aicha’s house where she taught me how to prepare a tajine. We played with origami and wrote names in Japanese before we retired on the rooftop.

The next morning we headed early to Todra Gorge, which was definitely more impressive than the Dades Gorge for me. I love the layers of red rock which rise up, towering over your head. A thin river runs through the gorge with crystal clear water. This water supplies the palmeraies in and around Tinerhir. I was intent on getting to Fes that day, and the only buses were at 9:30am or 5:30pm so I was rushing to get on the morning bus. We managed, and I was on my way.

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