From sun, sand and groin crushing camel rides to a snow storm in 12 hours. Hello Morocco and its variation of weather.
Having finished with the camels (I want to buy one but Jo thinks not) we went by bus to the Atlas mountains. It was a looonnng journey, about five hours but my pithy observations made it pass quickly, for me anyway.
We were staying in a gite, a communal dwelling. There was no heating but it was warmish when we arrived. We then had lunch and headed out for a four hour trek.
It had turned really cold, but luckily I had accidentally packed my Antarctica gear, (I thought it was a sleeping bag liner) so I was prepared. And had waterproofs and neck gaiter prepped and on.
The ground got rough really quickly and it had started to snow. As we pushed on and got an hour or so in it started to really come down. One of the party Jan, was having trouble with her knee and was lagging a little but we pushed on. Two hours in visibility was really reduced and conditions had gotten worse. We still had an hour uphill followed by two plus hours down the other side and we were running out of light.
Jan was getting bad and there was discussion of someone going back with her. We only had one guide though, so this seemed rash. After they dickered for a while i took a straw poll of the rest of the group and told the guide we were all happy to return the way we had come.
The ground was now muddy and snow covered and the guide struggled to find the path in a couple of places. I helped Jan for the first bit and then Rashid took over, followed by Nick.
We got to the bottom without mishap but we made the right call. To send two people off would have been foolhardy.
My spleen had twinged once or twice with the high impact of stepping down or rocks, no doubt pushed a little by the jolting of the camel. It hurt a bit in the night too, but the next few days are in the city, so it should be fine.
We all had dinner at the gite, tagine again… With the variety in weather I guess we don’t need to vary food. This didn’t stop me polishing off a fair amount.
Everyone was tired and the group went to bed leaving Jo and I playing cards. When we did go up it was powerfully cold, minus five at least, but there were some uberthick blankets.
The change in temperature and conditions here is astounding. It was really incongrolous to go from suncream to thermals in that space of time.
The next day a few of us had a snowball fight. Ben and Jane were particularly happy to throw them back. Even so it was very bizarre when considering what we had been up to 24 hours before.
The scenery is also amazing. There are sheer drops on most roads, some hundreds of miles down. Its as beautiful as it is empty. A country of extremes with a savage and rocky natural attraction. With the roads as they are the amount of goats and camels should be no surprise. Definitely worth a visit, and I can recommend a trip here to anyone.
Whilst I cannot confirm the accurracy of his words, Rashid said that the Arab spring has been a positive one for Morrocco. The king has lost absolute power and they now have a more democratic system. Women have also been given the right to divorce husbands and the levels of extremism are low, even though many people are devout. A Good sign when people are talking about Charlie Hebdo and Isis. It’s worth remembering sometimes that although the media blow up some things, they rarely point out whole populations which seen to have managed to coexist peacefully.