Tuesday, March 14, 2006

In the High Atlas

Charles in the High Atlas
Originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

A day away from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.

Sixty kms away to the south-east, towards Mount Toubkal, which at 4,165 metres is the highest mountain in North Africa and about as high as Ras Dashen in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.

Even here, Fiona seemed to know many people, starting off with Mustafa, the muke man who had lmooked after Thomas so well when he was here in October.

The snow was thick on the mountains, now drying in the unrelenting sun, sending strems of clear ice-cold strems over the rocks along the gulleys and valleys of the area.

The leaves were not yet out on the trees, every now and then some white blossom on the grey-silver walnut trees. The ne*w seasons wheat glowed a bright green in the sun.

This is the land of the Berbers, light-skinned people of the mountains with their colourful clothes and multi-coloured wollen caps, the sort of which Richard and I had as children.

After we were met by Mustafa, who seemed to be waiting for Fiona although no-one knew we were coming, he took us up the hill through the woods to the Kasbah, deemed by Conde Nast to have the best rooftop views in North Africa, being the countrys formost mountain retreat. It is a co-operative project run in good part for the benefit of the local people, an excellent example of ethical tourism.

We had a delicious berber lunch - except for the fatty lamb in the otherwise tasty tagine - with gigs and walnuts, sitting on the roofdeck in the sun, looking out across the snowy mountains, as in this photo. After this, we took to the mules with Mustafa and Mohammed, an up-and-down rode over steep slopes, through berber villages all the time with excellent views.

My camera had failed yet again and just like in Argentina and South Africa, it was out of action for a horse/mule ride in the high mountains - strange that - apart from being very annoying and frustrating. A good thing Fiona has Mums old Nikon.

Back here in Marrakech I was very interested to find out what had happened at Cheltenham, a bit disappointed that Hardy Eustace did not win for the fourth time running for me, but he came third so I should win some money on the place part of the each-way bet, so cant complain.

One more day here in Marrakech before the early flight on Thursday morning. And still we have not boughht - or sold - a riad.


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