Climbing higher along the plateaus leaving Meknes behind them clear blue skies overhead make the views even more breathtaking, the eye can see some 25km allowing the "funsters" to take in the High Atlas Mountains in the distance. Many stops are made on route for views and the cameras are working overtime. Emma comments, whow, I have never seen anything like it!
Dropping down off the plateaus and picking up the road, the "funsters" make their way into the village of Azrou, Azrou meaning 'rock' and has none of the hallmarks of a tourist trap. The green tiled rooftops are in total contrast to the rest of Morocco. Primarily a Berber village cheerful, hassle free and full of life, surrounded by pine and cedar forests where the "funsters" will wilderness camp for the night. A visit to the market which is a lively affair to restock on meat, fresh fish for those that want it, vegetables, bread and whatever else takes the "funsters" fancy. Mark casts his expert eye over the meat stalls, where purchases of sirloins and fillet steaks are made. Several kilos of steak is purchased for just 100 dirham [15 dirham to the sterling pound]. Mark informs all that in the UK this amount of steak would cost between 50/60 pounds! All shopping down, we all make our way a short distance drive to the Cedar Forest surrounded by the Middle Atlas range of mountains.
Green oaks give way to holm oaks on both sides of the road, tall, mature trees covered so thickly with leaves that the forest floor lies dark and cool beneath. Although patches of sunlight filter through, the impression is one of mysterious half light. High above, the unmistakable outline of magnificent Atlas Cedars rising out of the lesser trees around them.
A mule and its guide disturb the stillness and silence, delivering to the camp firewood for the nights campfire. A little later a shepherd passes between the RVs followed by his mixed herd of sheep, goats, donkeys and dogs, Jan looking on saying this is just incredible, and the shepherd tips his head in acknowledgement and continues on his way into the forest.
Suddenly our eyes catch movement, a troupe of some 20/30 Babary Apes [one of the best known Old World monkey species], babys on the backs of their mothers, along with dads and chief Barbary's walking on all fours, some standing to examine up the trunks of trees, circle the RVs. They seem in a good mood, and continue on their way up into the trees that shelter us and watch closely our movements from above.
Preparations for dinner commences, Ray and A'hammid prepare their table and commence chopping vegetables and steak for the evening tagine. Turning their backs for a second to chat to others, half a dozen monkeys descend upon the table clearing the lot, all vegetables and steak.
A'hammid, now feeling very hungry after the days fasting, makes chase with Rays butchers knife in one hand and picking up stones with the other ..... no chance ..... all thieves sit amongst the tree tops enjoying their steal, whilst Ray and A'hammid start again to prepare the tagine with less provisions!!
Eating over, campfire roaring, all sit back under the black night sky littered with millions of stars, taking in another days events, words are muttered, unbelievable, amazing ....... Diversity is just one aspect that is common to the different dimensions that is Morocco ........
A longer drive takes place for the next day, all be it approx. 200km, seeing the "funsters" arrive at Meski an Oasis situated on the edge of the Sahara desert .....
Hope you will join me again ........ Debbie.
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