Thursday, May 1, 2014

Unexpected Moroccan Adventure

"No, you'll be fine," she said.  
"It's a 20 minute walk, but we'll just take our time.  Be there within an hour."

Our guide continued to reassure me.  Nothing treacherous.  No cliffs.  No heights.  Just a nice walk.
(Have I mentioned that I'm deathly afraid of heights?)

It was our last day in Morocco and we were so torn as to whether or not to take the optional tour.
We were pretty exhausted and had a big travel day back to London the next day.

But, how could we turn down a meal in a traditional Berber village in the High Altas Mountains.

Nothing in the itinerary led me to believe this was anything but a scenic, moderate walk.
Well, other than the word "mountains."

After a 90 minute hair-raising bus ride, we had a quick rest and then it was time to start our...
 "20 minute walk".  (Major air quotes around that phrase.)

Up.

Into the mountains.

Along a donkey trail. 

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Cliffs and drop offs.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Mud and donkey dung.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Passing donkeys.

One and a half hours later, we arrived. Did you catch that?
Our twenty minute walk was actually a 90 minute hike.  Not what I was anticipating.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Thankfully, it was a gorgeous blue-sky day.  And the scenery was absolutely breathtaking!
It actually probably took longer because I kept stopping for photos.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The town seemed almost deserted.  I'm sure it was bustling and active before our arrival.
But as our group invaded, everyone scampered indoors.
We did see a few shy faces peeking out at us from doors and windows. 

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

We arrived and settled around in a cool dark room for lunch.
We were all offered cold sodas to quench our thirst before the food started arriving.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

I was a bit surprised to see macaroni salad as a first course.  Not quite sure that's traditional.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Next were the tangines, piled high with meat and vegetables.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

I enjoyed the food, but was a little disappointed at the level of interaction.
We had a local guide who took us to the Berber village.
A young, attractive and well dressed man who looked like he was ready for a night out in London.
Unfortunately, he seemed quite bored with it all and barely spoke.
He didn't give us any information or background.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

I was dying to know why there was a tennis racket on the mantle.
The only contact we had with a villager was when our host brought in the food and then quickly left us to it.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

It was a quite pleasant way to spend an hour and this little guy was pretty welcoming.


Then it was time to head back to the bus.
I would have been happy to climb back down the donkey trail we came up on.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

But, no.  This was a part of our route down.
A steep, narrow, switch-back donkey trail down the side of the mountain.
About 2/3rds the way down, I had a minor meltdown.
It was pretty steep at various points, not to mention the unstable footing.

Between the fear of falling down the mountain or getting run over by a donkey,
I'd pretty much had enough.  Luckily a few tears was just what I needed to relieve the stress.

Matt knows me pretty well and was so helpful and sweet about it.
I was quickly back to myself and enjoying the amazing views.
Here are some more shots from that day.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco


These things were moving and you'd best just get out of the way.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

See?  It was pretty fantastic, wasn't it?

Four hours on a bus and  three hours hiking for one hour in a quiet Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains.
In spite of the stress, tears and minor disappointments, it was worth it.
We made the right choice.

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Luckily nobody asked me to cross this precarious swing bridge.
There, I would have drawn the line and had a full-on hissy fit.

Ever had an unexpected adventure on your travels?
Did you handle it better than I did?



21 comments:

  1. Sounds like quite an adventure. Well, clearly the organizer did mislead you...there's a big difference between 20 min and 90 min. Glad you made it back safely though!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow the scenery does really look amazing. But the pasta salad is indeed a bit weird. I'm happy you enjoyed the hiked even though you were scared. That's what travel is often about isn't it :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fantastic photos!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sometime I will tell you the story of our mountain adventure when we honeymooned there. It also involved a 'short' hike and no cliffs, which meant lots of hiking and a huge cliff. I was ticked!

    ReplyDelete
  5. ablondearoundtheworldMay 3, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    Wow is this Morocco?? I would ever expect the Atlas mountains to be somehow snowy!!
    Great shots and story :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ah! I'm so jealous—I didn't get a chance to visit the High Atlas mountains while I was there… just drove by. But they were BEAUTIFUL! And by the looks of your photos, amazing to explore :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. It was very amazing. Looking back at the photos, I still can't believe that I was there.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks so much. I saw another blog recently and there was snow on the ground at the lower levels. It was amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yikes! I can't wait to hear this story!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. You are so right. I certainly had a sense of accomplishment when we were done. I was suddenly so brave once we were done.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This was the first time the guide was doing this tour. She was wonderful, but there were times when we were all surprised. I can't imagine living in Rabat. How amazing! I loved Rabat, it was such a beautiful city. Sounds like you faced some pretty harrowing situations!! Yikes. I'd love to read more about your time there. So glad that you've commented and connected!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Gorgeous photos! I'm glad you made it through, it looks like it was worth it. I've had a minor meltdown or two myself on travels. It's usually because I am over eager to see everything. Then I end up tired, sore and it downpours so I get soaked. I wonder why I put myself through all that, but in the end it's all worth it!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Beautiful pictures and I'm glad the day trip turned out OK in the end - I would have been as freaked out as you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If nothing else the scenery is gorgeous! I would not have been a happy camper either though. We've had a couple adventures while traveling. The first was in Bali- we had booked a jewelry making class that I had found on TripAdvisor. We had hired a taxi to drive us from our hotel up to Ubud, and had them drop us in town so we could wander a little and then find the store. When we got there though we found that the class was held in the family compound about a little ways away. The directions looked simple enough though so we started our hike to the compound. It ended up being almost two miles away down a really long side street, and every time we stopped for directions no one spoke English. Mild panic set in, but we eventually made it there alright. It was definitely an adventure!


    Our second was on our trip to Scotland. We were kind of planning our trip as we went, and only booking our hotel rooms 1-2 days in advance. Well at our second stop in a little village, the hotel had not received our reservation and were full. As were all the B&Bs they then proceeded to call for us. Eventually one B&B did end up having a last minute cancellation, but free drinks from the hotel that had screwed up our reservation were definitely in order for that one. :)


    Brittny
    www.awrittenjourney.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's always worth it! It's funny, because during the adventure I'm a wreck and then afterwards I'm all proud and brave. "Look what I did!" And they are always good stories after the fact.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! :D I was a bit embarrassed afterwards, but it was all worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Amazing what a free drink will solve ;) The trek in Bali sounds pretty nerve wracking! How was the jewelry making class?? I would so love to visit Bali someday!! We going on a road trip through Ireland and Scotland in a few weeks! I'm so excited!

    ReplyDelete
  18. The jewelry making class was one of the highlights of our trip. We were so happy we ended up getting to experience it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. That bright blue sky is pretty fantastic but I still would have tried to ride one of those donkeys up that mountain! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  20. The donkeys were all so cute. It was amazing to see really youngs kids riding them up and down those trails. No fear.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting. I love to hear from you!