August 27, 2013

Impressions of 168 Hours in Morocco - Travel Guide Morocco

Sahara Marokko Kamelreiten

It is still like a dream, a dream that makes you extraordinarily lucky when you wake up. 
In the middle of Marrakech's Medina, we are walking along the dark, narrow alleys. Everywhere the penetrating odors of aromatic spices, dead bodies of animals that hang outside the little stores, fumes of mopeds that streak past and smells of food. Half nasty, half pleasant. Temperatures between 43 to 50 degrees during the day, in the evening it sanks to estimated 25 to 30 degrees. The heat is hardly bearable, but after a while, one gets used to it. Since it is Ramadan, people stay in their small and fragile loam houses at midday, but as soon as it gets dark, crowds storm out to the notorious square, Djema El-Fna to meet friends, family and to grab some food. For hundred of years, the square has been a marketplace for tourists and locals. It is the perfect place to get lost in the cultural lifestyle of Morocco. Here, one can watch serpent charmers, find open-air restaurants, music shows, dancers, clothes, souvenirs and even Berber monkeys.

Never in our life, we have seen such a great spectacle. It seems to be a completely different world. Things, we have experienced and learned from the Moroccans, we would never forget.

Day 1 - Marrakech: Arrival with Exertions
After four hours of flight from Frankfurt, we arrive at 6.30 p.m. at the RAK airport in Marrakech. We feel like entering a sauna when gettingout of the air-conditioned plane.

Our accomodation, Riad Laârouss lies about 15 minutes from the airport in the middle of the Medina. The taxi ride is a real adventure.

TravellingMost Moroccans care less about traffic laws and drive totally arbitrarily. Although the street is very broad, mopeds come by a whisker of our car, men riding donkeys are suddenly directly next to us and other vehicles cut in on us before we can see them coming. Our taxi driver uses every opportunity to honk vociferously.

First, it was a little shock for us, but afterwards it turned into real astonishment how well the traffic works, although traffic laws seem to be a minor matter. Arrived at the beautiful Riad, we relax for a while and then make our way to Djema El-Fna through the Souks (Souks are commercial quarters in a special area which are very common in Arab cities). 

People are sitting in front of their small shops or aground, trying to sell their stuff or begging for money. The alleys are very windy and appear like a huge labyrinth - we seem to look quite lost. After five minutes, a seemingly friendly man welcomes us and offers a small tour to his friend's spice shop. Actually, we already have known beforehand that he tries to get some money, but at the moment, we are too tired and get involved with him. He is very talkative and asks us for our plans in Marakkech.
The first thing that catches my eyes are all the cat gangs that are hanging around in the dark corners. I feel like in paradise.

Straying Cats in the Medina of Marrakech - Streunende Katzen in Marrakesch in der Medina

When we reach the small spice store, the shopkeeper presents us many different seasonings of which we have never heard of before. The prices are very low, e.g. 3 Grams saffron only cost 20DH (converted ca. 2,00€).
We promise the retailer to come back on our last day in Marrakech and leave his shop. Thereupon, the man who accompanied us demands 100DH (10,00€). When we tell him that we don't have more than 20DH, he turns angry and responds that it was Ramadan and that 100DH would not be much for western people. Other Moroccans standing behind him shake their heads and intimate not to give him anything. But since we want to move on to Djema El-Fna and do not plan to discuss with him the whole night, we give him 20DH which he takes quite angrily.
Djema El Fna Marrakech Nachtleben
At Djema El-Fna, the situation is not getting better. From all sides, merchants try to lure us to their food stands. They are very stubborn and even run after us to show us their menu. Each food stand has its own number, so it is not unusual to hear: "Remember number 36! This is the best food you'll get at Djema El-Fna; you won't regret it!"
From everywhere, there is the delicious smell of grills. We decide to go back to the first stand as there are sitting most of the people. It is typical to get a breadbasket with two red sauces as a supplement (without ordering it). Kuno orders a Tanjine, a classical Berber/North African stew. Usually, its ingredients include meat (chicken, beef, lamb etc) and vegetables. I take a vegetable Couscous with Moroccan salad (tomatoes, onions and sometimes cucumber/pepper).
For the whole menu, we only pay about 50DH (5,00€). After the meal, we allow ourselves the notorious orange juice of Marrakech for 4DH (0,40€) at a juice stand. These stands can be found everywhere in the Medina. Satisfied and exhausted, we try to head back to our Riad, but get lost again. We ask a Moroccan boy to show us the way back and give him some money because we want to go to bed as soon as possible. My feet hurt and my ears feel strange from the flight and my boyfriend has a headache.

 For the first day, this should be enough. Until now, my mind has been a little confused. I am not really sure, whether I should look forward to the next days. There were too much impressions at once. It was quite stressful to walk around in the Souks and trying to get rid of the intrusive merchants all the time. It is not that we were not sympathetic about their life circumstances; people in Africa are obviously poorer than in most western countries. Nevertheless, at a point, it becomes simply exhausting to walk around. Let's just hope that it will get better. If only I had known at that moment, that the next days would be the most beautiful, memorable days in my life. 

Katze in Marrakesch Katze und Kätzchen in Marrakesch - Cat Photography

Day 2 - Traditional Hamam "Spa" and Couchsurfer Meeting
This morning, we feel much better when waking up. We want to go on adventures, discover Marrakech with new eyes, let ourselves go for the next six days.
Until the evening, we walk around in the Souks. There are far less people on the street than yesterday. The heat is very oppressive, especially with long clothings. However, in
Medina in Marrakech Souks

comparison to Germany, it is not muggy. The Moroccans on the street barely talk to us, most of them relax. They sit or lie in front of their small shops in the shadows, fan themselves or make siesta. There are craftsmen painting their jobs or repair their fragile houses and only when we come to a central market, there are more people. 

In the evening we try "Hammam". Nowadays, it is known as a method of relaxiation, comparable to the sauna or steam bath. But in the Islam, it also has religious significance: in this sense, Hammam is an ablution which takes place before praying or before going to the mosque.
 A few doors down from our Riad, there is a classical Hammam for Moslems (men and women of course separated). It is quite plain; from the outside one would not expect that there is a Hammam "spa". When I enter the room, three women sit on the floor and stare at me. I think they are not used to tourists coming to their place because normally they visit bigger spas if they are just going for wellness. I explain that I want to be washed. I feel a little awkward because there are other naked women and girls in the room scrutinizing me. One of the elder women that sits at the entrance, signals me to take off all of my clothes. I am a bit haphazard because it is a very unfamiliar circumstance and I do not really know what will happen next. But then, she also undresses herself, takes me by the hand and drags me to another gloomy, moist room. There, she fills two buckets of water, one cold, one hotlays me down on the floor and starts scrubing my whole body with a rough washcloth. The flavor of the Hamam soap smells weird, but at the same time somehow pleasant. After that, she swills the soap down with the buckets of water and repeats this process of scrubbing and washing-up about three times. When she is finished, she takes my arms and crosses them behind my back and then on my front side. This is painful; it feels like every bone in my arm is breaking. Just recently, a friend told me that this was a method of "relaxing". After 15 minutes, my skin is completely reddened and we walk back to the changing room, where I get dressed again. Another woman arrived while I was doing Hamam. I notice that they are talking about me. If only I could understand them. The elder woman smiles at me and says goodbye.
Looking like a drowned rat and a little bit confused, I walk out of the Hamam, my hair completely wet, but with a big smile on my face. This was an experience I would never forget. And I can assure that the classical Hamam is nothing for sissies! ;)

 For 10 p.m., we arrange a couchsurfer meeting with Aimad and his friend on the deck of "Café France" at Djema El-Fna. I am looking forward to meet him because we have been writing on Facebook for some time, after I contacted him on www.couchsurfing.de and asked him whether he could show Kuno and me around when we are in Marrakech. We decide to play billards at a gambling hall they know. There is loud music upstairs, and a lot of young Moroccans at our age who smoke, drink and laugh with each other. Sad to say that I am a total wimp in billard, so we leave the hall after one game and look for something to eat at a small restaurant.
It was actually my first couchsurfermeeting outside Germany, and we really enjoyed our time with both of the guys. Unfortunately, time was too short because Aimad had another meeting with his friends and Kuno and I wanted to be fit for the next day. So we say goodbye to each other and take a taxi back to Djema El-Fna.
Atlasgebirge Marokko LandschaftDjema El Fna Nachtleben

Day 3 - With the Moped Through (the Slums) of Marrakech

Our hotelier, Mohammed is simply the best. When we ask him whether he knew an affordable moped renting agency, he phones a friend and inquires about the price. 250DH (ca. 25€) for one day. This is a good price, nevertheless there are still five days in Morocco left and we have not even booked another hotel/riad for our rest vacation (even less we have any plans for the next days). When the hotelier notices that we are talking to each other about the price, he smiles, takes out his keys and offers us to lend us his moped - for free. We cannot believe that he is serious because we have never driven on a  Moroccon moped before, not to mention the crazy traffic in Marrakech. When I ask him, whether he is sure about this, he only says that we are his friends and that he trusts us. We should just bring back the moped in the evening and should not drive too far away from the Medina. Mohammed shows Kuno everything necessary about the handling, and after 20 minutes we are already driving through the Medina. I feel the hot air in my face, my hair is blowing in the wind. Other cars and mopeds overtake us first, but we do not want to drive faster as long as we have not gotten used to the unpredictable traffic. Especially in the Souks, we have to watch out for pedestrians and other mopeds who flash out of the back alleys. But when we come to the main road, my boyfriend accelerates and we quickly drive past palm trees and beautiful loam houses.
Slums in Marrakesch Ghetto

After a while, we discover sand hills at the end street. They look mysterious, so we cannot stop ourselves driving them up to see what is up there. The path is very bumpy and stony. Moreover, it is very windy up here.
My sunhat flies away so that I have to run after it up the hill to catch it. All around us, there is garbage. We see a flock of goats and sheeps being guarded by some watch dogs. Far away, there stands a man with an old hat and ragged clothes staring at us. He must be the shepherd.
Slums in Marrakesch - Armut
   As we do not want to disturb him, we drive further up, until we see An impressing but simultaneously upsetting image in front of us. Before us, there is a huge slum (a poor district of a city). Children are running crying around and play with animals, there are women carrying cisterns on their heads and people who are sitting on the street in front of their houses talking with each other. The ghetto is big and very rundown - everything is gray, and dull, you can see the smog in the air. The situation here is barely comparable to the Souks in the Medina. It all looks more miserable and far poorer. I sit there with Kuno observing the people for a while,
no one is speaking a word. The view is impressing, but at the same time grim. No matter where we look around, there are bin bags and old residual wastes flying with the wind.
    A short way off, there are even more animals. Horses that are standing under tents and again goat herds. A cat gazes out of the tent and a lamb is running around in the storm, searching for its flock. Now it is even that windy, that we can hardly see anything because sand and rubbish are flying around. I have to close my eyes. Further afar, there are dark clouds, so we decide to drive back downtown.

 Not far from the Souks of Medina, there are located many richer areas with superb mansions and formidable properties. However, most of the villas seem to be uninhabited and just serve as presentation.

When it dawns, we head back to our Riad after filling up the moped tank. We are surprised how less fuel the moped consumed. As thanks for our hotelier's kindness, we want to give him 100DH. Nevertheless, he asserts that he really did not want our money because we are not only his guests, but his friends. Mohammed even offers us to lend his moped anytime again. If you read this anytime, Mohammed: thank you, you are an awesome hotelier and do a great job! We had so much luck to stay in this Riad. And we are sure that we would go back there again anytime.

Streunender Katzen in Marrakesch, Katzen Müll

Day 4 - Spontaneity wins! Bye, bye Marrakech - Zagora here we come! Crossing the Atlas Mountains & Overnight Stay in a Couchsurfer's Normad House

    Today is the checkout day of our Riad in Marrakech. In three hours, at 12 a.m., we have to leave our room - and we still do not have any plans for the following days. Yesterday, I posted a status on Couchsurfing, whether someone was free to offer us his/her couch near the beach in Agadir or Essouria because I got to know there a good friend through Couchsurfing, Jamal, whom we would like to meet. Unfortunately, he has to work the next days and therefore is not able to host us. There are some other people who wrote a message on couchsurfing offering to show us around, but none of them has a sleeping opportunity.
The only person whose couch is available is that of Omar, a 26- years-old guy from Zagora, an oasis town lying about 363km from Marrakech in the Morocco's southeastern region, Souss-Massa-Daraâ.His message sounds very auspicious as he promises to show us the non -touristic life of Morocco. His family are real Berbers and his uncle as well as his friends offer Sahara tours for a good price. When I call him, he reassures that it was no problem if we come visiting him the same day and that we could stay on his couch as long as we want. Omar totally has us. Now we only have to get the Supra tour bus which is a bus organization for long-distanced travels in time. From Marrakech to Zagora, the price is 130DH (13,00€) - more than fair. But as fate willed, the bus is fully booked until next week. What now? Staying for another three days in Marrakech and book the bus for Monday? Contacting more couchsurfers in Agadir/Essouira and ask whether they can host us? One thing is certain: I am short of money, so I could not afford to stay for the rest four days in a hotel.

Suddenly, Kuno has THE plan: we are gonna rent a car for three days and drive by ourselves to Zagora! I am sure that this was the best idea he ever had. And we get an excellent offering: a Souzouki Swift for 400DH a day, with air conditioning. Three days are 600DH per person. The car has no GPS-system, but who needs GPS when we have our own map for whole Morocoo. Ha! Our car renter warns us that the road to Zagora will be "très dangereux, ne pas bien!" (transl.: very dangerous, not good), because we have to cross narrow paths in the Atlas Mountains which are the only way to Zagora. He advises us to better drive to Agadir because the route to the beach was in contradiction to Zagora "très bien et facile" (transl.: very good and easy to drive).

We are not crazy or insane, just adventurous people. After our renter's warning we HAD to drive to Zagora, now even more than ever. Luckily, one can hardly get lost on  the way from Marrakech to Zagora because there is only one main path leading to Zagora in the Atlas Mountains. Therefore, it should be no problem with our super map.

When we are just before the Atlas Mountains, all of a sudden we Get stopped by the Moroccan police who makes a sign to halt at the side stripe.The officer demands our car documents and tells us that Kuno had not stopped for three seconds at a stop shield. This was reason enough for him to claim cheeky 7500DH from us. I cannot remember a moment in my life where my heart dropped into my guts like in this second. Excuse me? 7500DH for overdriving a stop shield? He must be kidding. And maybe he does because he smiles. But when he writes the single figures on our side mirror, we know that he is serious. FU!K!)#(/ä"§)(/="!§!. This is the only word that Expresses the unpleasant situation. Kuno pulls out his portemonnaie. There are only 20DH in his pocket. Ridiculous 20DH that saved our ass. The police officer slowly understands that this is the only money we have, so he is "gracious" and lets us go. I swear, I was never so happy to be poor.

The landscapes in the Atlas Mountains are dazzling. And they change every 15 minutes. They are so beautiful that I do not even bethink to sleep for a while, although I am dog- tired. I do not want to miss any single moment. First, the mountains are overgrown with trees in every colours, and the next second there Is nothing but multicolored rocks. About every 20km, there are tiny Nomad villages. I imagine, how it was like to live there, totally isolated from any civilization. They just have themselves, and without any cars they cannot even move to other places. I think they depend much on each other. Everyone is responsible for the whole community, they must be closely connected to make life work there. Life cannot be so anonymous like in bigger areas - on the contrary, they must know each other very well. I somehow admire the people who live there, and wonder whether they are lucky.

Berber Village in Morocco, Atlas Mountains - Berberdorf in Marokko Atlasgebirge
I should mention that we are stopped by the police a second time. Since it is 21p.m., it is already dark. In front of us, there is a car which suddenly brakes sharply, although we are still in the mountains and there are no lights or anything like that. Therefore, we can hardly see anything. Since the car before us stops so abruptly, we have to dodge it by veering to the right so that we stand directly next to the car.
And again, the lovely police. Kinda déja-vu. And this time, he even has a better reason to stop us. So, the same procedure: car documents, and again a fine. I do not know the exact amount anymore, but it was again something about 7000DH. But this time, we know what to do. Kuno shows his empty portmonaie with 20DH again, making clear that we do not have more money. We tell him that our journey goes to Zagora, that we will meet there with a couchsurfer and that we already had more than 6 hours of travel. The reason for our negligence. We apologize a thousand times. Since the police first does not let up, my boyfriend suggests him to write a ticket so that he can transfer the fine in Germany. Of course the police cannot do this because his high demand for money is actually "illegal". A Moroccan would never pay 7000DH for such a slight negligence. On this account, he lets us go. And again: saved by the bell.

It takes about 6 1/2 hours to cross the whole Atlas Mountains. Now, we are in Quarzazate (Arabic proncounciation: Warzazat), the next biggest city besides Marrakech on the route to Zagora. We have a short stop to at a Moroccan restaurant.
The last two hours of our journey, I fall asleep. One cannot see anything of the landscapes anyway because it is too gloomy outside.
Finally, at 1a.m., we are crossing the city boundary of Zagora. Omar and his friend are already expecting us at the Afriquian gasoline station. They have been waiting there for us for two hours, but they are not angry about the delay (I wrote him a message before, saying that we come later than planned). We ride behind his moped to a hotel of his friend, where we meet some other friends of him. They invite us to some delicious "Berber Whiskey", an original Berber mint tea and to a Tanjine. Actually, we are totally full from our last meal, but we do not want to be impolite. Omar and his friends seem to be very nice guys; we feel comfortable in their company.

It is already late, so after the meal, Omar leads us to his home. He has two houses in Zagora: the main house lies in the center, while the other one is located outside of it.  However, he prefers the isolated one because it is a real Normad house, where most of his couchsurfers stay overnight. We drive 15 minutes along small cartways. This area is very far-off, there are just a few other houses behind rustic walls, and again straying dogs, cats, horses, camels and donkeys.

We park in front of his "house". Omar opens the door to his home and we enter a dark, huge garden. Unfortunately, I see less because there are no lights. In his house, we also have to use flashlights because there is no electricity at night. I am totally impressed by the way he and sometimes his family live here. It is not that his house has great furniture or a beautiful paint - no, it is the emptiness that I like the most. There is really nothing inside his house except for some mattresses for his couchsurfers, a small table with some chairs inside the living room and a kitchen out of stone. In the adjoining room there is a small "bathroom" with a toilet and a tiny shower. Everywhere, there are spider webs. The rooms do not have any flooring, just gravelly soil. The house does not even has a roof, but it is totally oversized (in a positive way).

We have the choice in which room to sleep. We choose the roofgarden and carry the overnight stuff upstairs. I lie my mattress next to Kuno's and Omar lies some meters next to us. I cannot believe that we are sleeping on a roofgarden of a Nomad house after having crossed the Atlas Mountains with a map. That we escaped the police several times and that we ended up near the Sahara instead of the beach. It is silent up here, just sometimes you hear the barking of dogs, the chirping of crickets and every now and then a loud "I-AAH" from some donkeys. The wind from the palm trees are blowing fresh air; the temperature is pleasant. And the night sky is breathtaking; it is so clear that one can see every single star and the Milky way. I have never seen anything like this before. Tonight, I am the luckiest girl on earth. I have everything I want: a wonderful boyfriend, so many new experiences within one day and the adventures I was seeking for. Life cannot get any better.
Couchsurfing in Marokko, Zagora

Day 5 - Omar's Berber Family & One Night to the Sahara
When I wake up in the morning at 7 a.m., the sun is already so unbearable that I stand up and go downstairs to the "living room". Omar is already awake, brewing Berber Whiskey. After taking a cold shower, we drive to his uncle whose house lies in the center of Zagora. When we enter the tiny living room, seven of his family members sit on the floor watching TV. The room is very gloomy, there is just few light coming in from the shaft at the ceiling. His family extends a warm Welcome to us, offers us over and over Berber tea and little Moroccan snacks. We hang around at their house until midday.

Then, Omar shows us around. We drive to the slums to one of his old acquaintances who works as jewelry designer. Omar entrusts us not to let ourselves accosted by beggars and not to buy anything if we do not want to.

We knock at the door of the jewelry designer. An older man opens the door and leads us to a fireplace where he produces compasses and jewelry. He explains every single step of the production; everything is handmade. It is amazing what humans can bring off without machines. When he is finished, he shows us his jewelry vitrines and offers us some Berber Whiskey. Of course he wants us to buy something but it is clear that those things are unaffordable for us (at least for the moment because I only have 80€ for three days without booking any accommodation left). So we leave the shop with bad conscious, although we know it is not our duty to buy anything. Nevertheless, it is a bad feeling to see such a friendly man disappointed.

On our way back to Omar's uncle, we stop at a beautiful oasis landscape and take photos. It is meanwhile too hot in Zagora, 51 degrees.
Back at Omar's family, they have prepared a Tanjine for us, although most of the family members do Ramadan (except for Omar and his little brother). Therefore,  I highly appreciate their tolerance towards non-Moslems and their great hospitality. Omar's uncle shows us after the meal some photos of his two-months journey into the Sahara. It must have been very hot at midday. But he tells us that he enjoyed the Nomad life, he loved being with the nature.
This is exactly the thing I love about the Berber culture. Their luck is not based on material needs, but on the simplicities of life. You can send them with a camel for months to the dessert, still most of them will get along with the situation. They would survive because they are relaxed and know how to be satisfied without any high demands.

We have luck. Omar's uncle offers us a tour to the Sahara for only 250DH (25,00€) each person. Including two camels, a personal desert guide, dinner, breakfast and camping. At dusk, we hit the road. 80km to drive from Zagora to the desert. Omar accompanies us to the meeting point with the guide, but then takes a taxi back home because he expects other couchsurfers to come this night. We park the car in a courtyard and then meet our guide, Mohammed. He is waiting for us with two camels, one white and one brown. Yippie, this will be my first ride on a camel. When Omar leaves us, the journey's get going. I bestride the camel and cannot believe how uncomfortable it is. Already after 20 minutes, I have to descend because everything hurts. :( We still need about 1 1/2 hours to the camp, but as we were delayed, our guide walks so fast in the sand that I am out of breath after a few minutes.

Sahara Nachtlager Camp Ausflug

 Our camp lies in the middle of the dunes. There is nothing but sand around us and meanwhile it is already dark. In front of a Tent, there is already sitting a French pair who is passing through Morocco as well. They are really funny and sympathetic guys and we have a good conversation with them, while we are waiting for our dinner which gets prepared by three of the desert guides. It is quite amusing to eavesdrop them while they prepare the food because they are discussing vociferous in Arabic about things we do not understand. It is a certain way - in a very sympathetic manner - Moroccans argue with each other. Badinages, wild gesticulations and a lot of temper. Sometimes, one can observe them throwing items around (but not to hurt anyone). The discussion of our guides continues about 15 minutes, then silence comes.
I walk barefoot with Kuno in the sand, it is so smooth and pleasant warm. I love to make little footsteps in the sand. We climb the dunes, stand there and watch the black spangled sky. I think I will never get enough of it. One can barely describe the luck in such moments.
The dinner we get is very generous. As appetizer we get served a Moroccan salad and after that we have a huge Tajine which could easily stretch four persons. As dessert, we get watermelons. I Am totally replete and could fall asleep in no time. Though, we keep company for some minutes with our group, listening to them playing Bongo and singing Arabic songs.
Camping in the Sahara
Then, we take the mattresses out of the our cottage and put them down behind the dunes. I ask the guides to switch off the light of the toiletts so that we can see the sky better.
Now, the temperature is very mild so that we only need thin blankets to sleep outside.
Kuno falls asleep immediately. Although I am tired as well, I do not want to fall asleep. I feel so free, so happy. This night should never end. And with every shooting star, I have a new wish. I hope they will come true. :)

Day 6 - Danger, Danger, Baby. Driving to the Ouzoud Falls
Sonnenaufgang in der Sahara in Marokko

Sonnenaufgang in der Sahara Marokko
Kuno whispers in my ear: "Mimi, Mimi wake up! You'll miss the sunrise!" Sorry, am I dreaming? I cannot wake up now. I am too tired. And where are we anyway? Why is it so bright? I fall asleep for another 15 minutes. Suddenly, my heart skips a beat and I rush as if stung by an adder to the bathroom, put on my clothes and run up the dunes where my boyfriend watches with the other camper the sunset and takes photos. But I am too late. The sun has already risen. Nevertheless, it is so beautiful here. But we have to get out of the Sahara before it gets really hot. Our guides have already prepared breakfast - olives, bread, marmalade and Berber Whiskey. We enjoy the last meal in the Sahara and then head back towards city.
Kamelreiten in der Sahara, Marokko - Landschaft Marokko -Zagora

This time, Kuno and I are even allowed to ride the camels on our own. And I love my camel! I changed mine with Kuno's white camel from the day before, it feels much more comfortable. And not only that it is comfortable, it is also very hungry. At every second acacia it stops to have a small snack. Yumm, yumm, those delicious leaves. The guide cannot stand that my camel does what it wants and urges it to walk faster. At once, it starts to run so that I nearly come off the camel. My sunhat flies away and the guide runs after that. Ha, that's what he gets when he messes up with my camel and me!

Kuno and I bid farewell to our guide and the camels (I will miss my adorable camel as hell) and drive back to Zagora in order to meet with him the last time. We thank Omar for the great time with him and his family and for the cheap trip to the Sahara. We are anytime welcome again. It was the best decision to drive to Zagora.
For the second last day, Kuno and I want to see the Ouzoud Waterfalls in the Atlas Mountains (just because there are living Berber monkeys), 381km from Zagora, and 2 1/2 hours from Marrakech. They are the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls in Morocco.
But this time, the route will be a real adventure. It is a different route than that of on the way there. To be perfectly honest, I am still surprised that we are alive.

The first hour is harmless in comparison to what comes later. Already before we drive into the Atlas Mountains, it begins to thunder, and there are road signs with exclamation marks. But we do not care about it. We only have in mind that we want to arrive at the Ouzoud Falls before it gets dark. The paths do not have any guardrails, although abysses reach to 2000m deep forward. Not very beneficial for someone who has  acrophobia anyway. After one hour, the first car comes our way. It is a local with all-terrain vehicle who warns us that we absolutely should not drive this way with our Suzuki Swift. He says it was impossible because the paths are very bad. But my boyfriend does not want to turn around anymore. We have no clue what will envisage us, however I think it is a bad idea to drive further on because actually it would be reasonable to listen to the warnings of natives. But reasonable seems to be a foreign word today.
Fog in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco - Regen, Nebel Atlasgebirge
And there it is..after some time, the road gets always worser and worser. I would not call it constructed street anymore. It is simply a gravel path with too many potholes and rocks lying around in the middle of the way. By my side, rocks crumble from the mountains and I am afraid that they will slay us any minute. At the curves, the paths are so narrow that we can hardly pass them. Especially because one cannot see whether another car comes from the counterside. So we drive with 10 km/h for two hours further on. It is really exhausting because I am very tired and want to sleep, but I do not dare to close my eyes.

At long last, we arrive at the first village after three hours. We stop at some Moroccans and ask them whether the way would get better. They look at us as if we were totally crazy, coming from the death direction. Actually, even locals do not dare to drive there, on this account they wonder how we managed to cross the paths with a Suzuki Swift. 
The good news are that the routes to the Ouzoud Falls are getting better. Damn. That is a weight off my mind. This is exactly what we wanted to hear.

The rest of the route is far more relaxed. We come across many villages where children try to stop us to sell their stuff. It is getting dark again, so we decide not to hurry ourselves, to sleep in the car overnight and to stand up early the next morning to see the Ouzoud Falls at sunrise.
Around 11p.m. we finally arrive at the Azizal Province, the place of the Ouzoud Falls. There are walking around many younger people, and when we drive through the city, a boy at our age stops us to show us a good parking place. He assures us that we do not need to be afraid to pay anything because he just wants to help us. And he is a real friendly guy. Since he is a tourist guide to the waterfalls, he also knows many good and cheap hotels. We decide to sleep in a hotel directly at the Ouzoud falls instead of sleeping in the car because we only pay 90DH p.P. for one night. And we are more than in need of a shower. Unfortunately, it is quite a long way to the hotel and it is very dark. We only have flashlights when we cross over the river. But one can already hear the waterfalls.
It is beautiful. And so is our camp. Actually, I want to explain Jalal (the name of the guy) the couchsurfing webpage because he is registered there as well, but does not has a good overview about how the whole thing works. However, I totally forget it because I am so tired from the long journey, so I take a shower and fall asleep. The next day, he is not there anymore.

Camp Ouzoud Waterfalls

Day 7 - Berber Monkeys at the Ouzoud Falls & Back to Marrakech: Meeting the Designer of the Moroccon Family
   At 6a.m., I am woken up by a noise that is directly above us. It sounds as if a huge spider was lumbering on the tent roof. But I cannot see anything. I wake up Kuno and we leave the hotel to catch some Berber monkeys. Alleged, they are living here around the waterfalls and the best time to see them was the early morning. We go back the whole route from the night before but do not discover any single monkey. We are already upset and disappointed because we were so looking forward to see them.

    When we already gave up hope, suddenly I see a monkey jumping from a café roof with some food in his hands. We follow him, and behold, there is already the second monkey. We walk to the restaurant and discover to our delight that there are even more monkeys walking around, stealing food. Clever boys.

And some steps further up, we discover more than 30 monkeys, relaxing in a large, beautiful tree, removing lice from each other. What a great sight to see monkeys living in free wilderness. We sit there for two hours watching our friends playing and climbing. Why are there so many similarities to my boyfriend? Hihi, maybe in his past life, he was a Berber monkey as well. For my part, I wish to be a monkey for some days. They look so relaxed while lying on their trunks and cuddling with each other.

Since we have to bring back the car at 3p.m. in Marrakech, we have to leave, although we could have stayed with the monkeys the whole day.
Car driving has just become exhausting the last days. But luckily, from the Ouzoud Falls to Marrakech it only takes about 2 1/2 hours. When we bring back the car, we return to Riad Laârouss in order to book our last night. We are glad to see our lovely hotelier again. This time, we get another room which is directly at the terace pool.
    The first thing we do after booking the room is to catch up on some sleep. The last days were so adventurous that we never slept more than five hours a night. But now we are glad to lie in a comfortable bed for some hours.

In the evening, we make our nightly routine through the Souks to Djema El-Fna. Somehow, it feels homelike to be in the Medina again. Since Kuno and I have a lot of Dirhams left, we think about a good way to decrepitate it: we will spend our rest money into a huge last feast meal! The restaurant we choose is a dream, it has very cheap and delicious food and there are three cats sitting under our table waiting for us to give them some food.

We order too much. People from neighbor tables look at us as if we were crazy. For myself, I order a Moroccon salad, fries, an omelette, a Moroccan soup and a chocolate milk. My boyfriend takes a huge Tajine with fries.

After that, we walk totally stodged the last time around. It is already 3.30 a.m., so the turmoil has lessened.
At a darker corner, a tailor calls us. He has impressing Moroccon garments and presents  them to us. I really could get used to these clothes. I like a real Moroccan. The friendly designer even shows me how making a handmade bracelet and gives it to me as a souvenir. To say thank you, I give him 20DH. Later on, it turns out that the friendly man we were talking to the whole time is among others a designer of the Moroccon's royal family. We only figure it out because he shows us a catalog with his designed clothes and accessories. The scales fall from my eyes when I realize that actually his accessories are much more worth than the 20DH I gave to him. There are accessories that cost over 3000DH. But when I gave him the 20DH, he did not say a word and was thankful. What a modest man. Kuno buys from him a cheaper, white garment from our last money. I hope he will always wear this. It looks good on him.
Sunset in BangkokBerberaffe Berber monkeyStraying Cats in the Medina of Marrakech - streunende Katzen - Cat baby and Cat mom

Day 8 - Leaving Marrakech
 So this is it. We had a week full of unforgettable experiences, great and sometimes careless adventures, saw breathtaking places, met wonderful people. I cannot believe that it is already over. I already have itchy feet, although we are still at the airport, waiting for the plane to come. It is bitter to leave the country. Not in a negative manner; how could it be. All the things we witnessed were unique and beautiful.

For us, it was a completely new and exciting culture that we learned to love.
I will miss the feeling of freedom when we walked around in the souks, the spangled sky at night that made my heart beat faster, all the straying dogs who were friends like in Lady and the Tramp, my little Sahara camel friend which was so hungry, the cats lurking at every corner. To walk at night through the quaint little streets and get lost in the endless corridors. The crazy traffic, the feisty taxi drivers, even the intrusive sellers.
fell in love with the warmth and temper of the Moroccons. And all the simplicities of life that enriched us with happiness. The children did not play with gameboys, they did not have any smart phones or sat two hours in front of the television, watching Sandmann. No, you can give them two stones, and they will invent their own game out of the material they have. They play outside the house the whole day and get friends with the next cat they find because most of them have nothing. It may well be that people are poor, but in their minds and hearts, they are rich. Through the Moroccans I realized more than ever that happiness is something that cannot be bought. It is something that lies within your attitude, it is a personal strength.
Moreover, I learned not to be scared of different cultures. It is only about the way you how you conceive your fellow human beings. To see the true heart of a culture, it is necessary to let go all the prejudices about the Orient that are too often conveyed by the media and to let the people in. Before I travelled to Morocco, I had so many people being afraid that something bad happened to me. The Federal Foreign Office gave warnings better not to travel to Marrakech because it was an endangered area. Of course one cannot take these warnings lightly, but if fear governs your mind, there is something in need to be changed.

Our flight is delayed over three ours. Deep in my heart, I wish that it will not come at all. I do not want to fly back to Germany where all the obligations wait for me. If I greet anyone in Frankfurt on the street, most of them will think that I am crazy. You cannot talk to them of friendliness because they will immediately think that you have bad intentions. But next year, we will come back to Morocco, that is for sure.
By then, I will keep all these unique memories in my heart. For the last time, I gaze out of the window to see all the beautiful lights below, the lights of a magical country that I love.

37 Kommentare:

  1. I love your descriptive tales of Morocco, it brings back such great travel memories for me, what a beautiful and exotic country with wonderful people and traditions. Your photos are amazing!

    1. Thanks. It is truly a beautiful country with a great mentality.

  2. You're so lucky that you visited these wonderful places. Great pics!


  3. you had such a great experience !!!
    maybe you would like to follow each other?


  4. Such a great descriptive review of your expierence in Morocco! Beautiful photos too! :)


  5. such an amazing post, great photos! thanks for your lovely comment, dear! wanna follow each other? :)

    ChocolateFashionCoffee Facebook Page

  6. the photos are absolutely amazing!♥ I've never been to Morocco, it looks like beautiful country, but obviously it's struggling with poverty too:( your reportage makes me feel the interesting bittersweet atmosphere of Morocco. Lovely blog!♥ I liked your facebook page with my personal account (petra lorencová)♥ you can follow me back if you'd like;) hope we’ll keep in touch♥


    My Facebook page

  7. Amazing post! I would love to go there :D


  8. Sounds amazing!x


  9. Oh wow, wirklich sehr interessant!
    Danke für deinen lieben Kommentar und du hast Recht, wir sind auch mit Ryanair relativ günstig nach Barcelona (Girona) geflogen ;)

    Ganz liebe Grüsse, Alena


  10. Danke für deinen lieben Kommentar. Dein Urlaub scheint wirklich sehr interessant gewesen zu sein :)).
    Liebe Grüße, Isabella

  11. I like that you added a whole trip in one post.
    Beautiful landscapes.
    Stella from a A Shiny Place

  12. What a great adventure you've had. I love your writing, and especially your thoughts and impressions about what you experienced in Morocco. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

    I'm about to book a trip for my family for this coming November, so your post was very useful and made me more excited than ever to go.

    1. Thank you, Rick. This means a lot to me. I am sure that you will have a great time in Morocco and if you have any questions, just ask me. Maybe I can help you out. But it's an indescribable, beautiful country with such amazing landscapes. And the people there are so open-minded and kind-hearted.
      I think the temperatures in November will be bearable as well. I wish a good trip! :)

  13. Total interessanter Post! Ich war zwar noch nie in Marokko aber will unbedingt mal dorthin!
    Du hast mich auf meinem Blog gefragt, wie lange ich gebraucht habe, um mein Shirt selbst zunähen; das hat eigentlich gar nciht so lange gebraucht, ungefähr drei Stunden oder so.. Also wenn du auch mal probieren willst, selbst zu nähen dann kann ich dich nur dazu ermuntern :)
    Liebe Grüße


    1. Auf und davon! :) Marokko ist auf jeden fall sehr reisewert. Die Kultur differenziert sich sehr von der westlichen Kultur und die meisten Leute sind sehr gastfreundlich, warmherzig und tolerant. Von den beeindruckenden Landschaften mal abgesehen. Ich habe persönlich sehr viel von der Erfahrung dort mitgenommen und kann es nur jedem empfehlen.

      Drei Stunden nur? Das ist ja ein Traum. Leider kann ich überhaupt nicht nähen. ;) Wollte es aber irgendwann mal lernen, wenn ich mehr Zeit hab, deswegen hab ich das interessehalber gefragt.

    a 4x4.TREKKINg.MèTRHARèe
    ZAGORA 49700_MAROC
    GSM:(+00212) 0667 540 890.
    E-mail: zagorasahara@hotmail.fr

  15. What a interesting trip!! Hope i can have such a experience!!

    Robe pour vous

  16. Die Fotos sind unglaublich schön! Ich hoffe ihr hattet eine schöne Zeit (obwohl das mit der Polizei echt creepy ist!). :)

    1. Hatten wir, danke. Wenn man weiß, wie man mit der marokkanischen Polizei umzugehen hat, ist das alles auch nur noch halb so wild. Aber die ersten Male ist uns echt das Herz in die Hose gerutscht. ;(

  17. I would like to come back and read this again without rush. I am so privileged to have you as my blog visitor and commentator. I hope you come back again. I have read your restrictions and I totally respect and understand that we should follow if we find a blog interesting for us to follow, and that we should read and not just make comments without reading. I am very pleased of your presentation, blog header, and pictures. Your journal is very interesting. I hope to learn from your posts and be a friend.:)

  18. Wow this whole travel is full of surprises and interesting facts! I may probably have a hard time to lodge or camp on a desert for several days....one night, I can handle. The driving are typical also to other countries...it is scary...In some countries there are also people who wants more money and were not happy with what you can offer, it's upsetting when it happens. I would love to ride a camel someday. I like your pictures lying on the sand though I cannot imagine myself doing it....

  19. Sehr schöne Bilder, obwohl es doch teilweise die Realität dort zeigt. Ich hoffe, ihr hattet eine schöne Zeit! :)
    ♥ Herzlichst, Seija von ifsoever

  20. Great post <3
    Check out the Escada Fashion Show in Greece :)

    Your Princess is in Another Castle

    xx Sofie

  21. Morocco is my absolute favourite country in the world and I know what you mean about not being able be friendly with strangers in Europe haha!


  22. Wow, was für ein großartiger Bericht. Jetzt wird mir erst bewusst, wie wenig ich von Marrakesh gesehen habe. Ich war nur 48 Stunden dort & fand es total zwiegespalten. Einerseits uuunglaublich anstrengend, weil dir jeder etwas verkaufen/andrehen will oder aber dich irgwie verwirren will, damit du ihm Geld für den richtigen Weg gibst. Andererseits aber auch unglaublich faszinierend.
    Ich war damals übrigens in einem "Touri"-Hammam & das war trotzdem die tollste Erfahrung seit langem. Ich fühlte mich noch nie so sauber - wir haben Reinigung & Massage bekommen.
    & ich vermisse die Orangensäfte. <3

    & zu deiner Parka-Frage: Schau mal unter dem Bild - ich habe alle Parkas direkt verlinkt. :)

  23. thanks for sharing your trip! I hope to visit Morocco soon!


  24. Wow, deine Fotos und deine Texte geben einem das Gefühl auch direkt vor Ort zu sein ♥

    Obwohl es mir bei dem Blick auf die Slums und den freilaufenden Katzen und Hunden echt das Herz blutet.

    Lieben Gruß,

  25. DAs war ja ein Abenteuer! Du hast das sehr gut geschrieben und auch wenn es lang war, war es einfach toll :-)

  26. Die Bilder von Tag 6 sind wunderschön!

  27. Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.
    Thank you For Sharing :)
    Houssaine From Morocco

  28. Thanks for sharing your experience in Morocco. Die Fotos sind echt Wunderschön und die Beschreibung ist perfekt wenn es auch einbisschen Lang ist.
    Vielen Dank
    Authentic Sahara Tours

    1. Vielen Dank, das freut mich sehr!

  29. Wow toller und ausführlicher Reisebericht! Mein Freund und ich waren letzten Dezember für 3 Wochen dort und haben es geliebt! Haben auch ähnliche Dinge gemacht wie zb in der Wüste geschlafen (nur nicht draussen) und Marrakesch :) außerdem waren wir auch am Meer in Essaouira, so eine schöne Stadt! Habe dazu auch Berichte und Videos auf meinem Blog veröffentlicht, falls es dich interessiert.

    Liebe Grüße
    Jasmin von nimsajx.blogspot.de