I’m thankful for friends who plan trips and then invite me along. With the school year winding down I gave little thought to what I might do over our last long weekend before school lets out for the summer.
This particular long weekend was to mark the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan. On Thursday night I waited with friends listening for news of the new moon. With the sighting of the new moon the end of Ramadan was announced and work cancelled for the day. Eid al Fitr had begun.
So. Friday morning dawns and my friend and I begin our road trip. Most everything was deserted and closed on this particular Friday, being Eid and all. We found gas and that’s about it. Our google instructions said that getting to Ouzoud would take about three hours – it didn’t. It was more like four and a half. But with the changing landscapes it was easy to forget how long we’d been in the car and just watch how the land would change from flat flat farm land to hilly olive orchards to steep mountain passes.
We drove for what seemed like forever on a long straight road and eventually saw in the distance that we were driving straight to the mountains. At each town we would slow down looking for some little hanout (cornerstone) to be open – we needed snacks! Finally we found one – two cans of coke and Pringles later we were off. I’m still surprised by the infrastructure that I see here in Morocco. This is not the Africa that I’m used to. I mean, I can find directions on Google Maps and the roads that I’m sent on actually take me to where I need to go.
We arrived in the sleepy little town of Ouzoud in the late afternoon. Our host was waiting for us and took us to our guest house. With the remaining daylight we walked along the river. Living in a big loud city like Casablanca makes every moment in the peace and quiet so much sweeter. So there we were, walking along the river, dodging donkey droppings, watching the shepherds with their goats and playing in the water.
Inspired by Lilias Trotter this past week I took my watercolors with me and tried my hand at painting. I need practice. But painting outside with my feet in a river was just what I needed at the end of the school year. It also made clean-up easy.
The real reason for being in Ouzoud though was to see the waterfalls. Now, maybe I haven’t been paying attention, but apparently these waterfalls are a big deal around here. The hight of the falls is about 103 meters and its a huge holiday destination for Moroccans and foreigners alike. Who knew?
I’m not a huge hiker (clearly) so thankfully this hike down and then back up the other side of the gorge wasn’t difficult. Steep, and many many stairs, but not something I couldn’t do in my Toms. Halfway down we met some monkeys. I don’t like monkeys from a distance and I absolutely don’t like them close up. We were told, “Don’t touch them, don’t make lots of noise, they are not aggressive.” That advice was fine until you feel a creature land on your shoulders/ head from behind. Then it sat there, grabbing my head, little monkey hands clawing at my face. One of them stole Devan’s sunglasses, tried them on and chewed on them a little before throwing them back down. We smelled a bit like the monkey house in a zoo for the rest of the day.
With late afternoon approaching we packed the car and headed back down the mountain. Our search for roadside snacks began again and this time we were successful. Now it’s back to “real life” – the life where I’m packing for the summer and packing to move apartments. Next time I will stay longer – Inshallah.