Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not so Easy Jet to Paris & Abdou, The Taxi Fare Killer

Our second to last day in Morocco was spent getting to Agadir from Essouira via bus. It's about 3 hours but in a less comfortable bus than the Marrakesh route, with no air-con for one. The road is quite winding, and drifts away from the coast for quite a bit and climbs before the final corkscrew descent into Agadir.

As I mentioned before, Agadir was only on the agenda to act as our departure point to Paris. The flight by EasyJet was only $60 each, and was supposed to only take 3 hours. Supposed to...

Agadir was much as I expected, clean and groomed, and not very exotic in appearance or apparent culture. It caters to tourists mostly plus conferences and conventions like Vegas. We did find another Vegas-like attribute that we had yet to see anywhere else in Morocco: street drunkenness.

Anyway, on arrival we had a guy approach to offer his taxi service. Not knowing where it was or how far and being tired sweaty and hungry we quickly agreed to take his cab, for 50 dirham. Before we reached the car the diver (Abdou) got into a huge verbal fight with the other drivers who accused him of stealing their fare, and undercutting. Apparently the going rate was 100 dirham, and they (he said) even offered him 20 to leave us so they could prey on us.

Abdou also agreed to take us to the airport the next morning at a prearranged time, as we had an early flight. We knew the usual rate for this and agreed to his rate of 150, and the airport being quite far out of town it was not unreasonable. Abdou asked my name, and had trouble with it, so I became "Abdou 2" to his "Abdou 1".

Our hotel La Petite Suede was about average for our trip, and right in the restaurant district which was handy. We  headed out and had the most western meal yet, Pizza and Lasagna! And it was served professionally and cleanly by smart looking waiters. But they were interrupted by the obnoxious drunk walking (barely) down the street. No big deal, but he did get hauled away to the drunk tank. The only reason I even mention it though is that the event was so rare, the only open drunkenness we saw by local, as I think this guy was, or tourist.

The next morning Abdou showed up right on time, but it turns out that Abdou may have given a good price on the fare the day before, but he made up for it today. He picked up another guy (Abdou 3), whom he was charging the same rate PLUS he drove to his home once he had all of us and we switched with baggage  to his own personal car. It seemed like triple dipping in that he would not have to report the fare and it turned out he would not actually dive into the airport proper so he did not get seen. At least we got there in plenty of time, and then some...

Our flight was not due to leave until 10-ish, but turned out to be delayed by 3 hours so did not leave until 1:30. There's not a lot to do in the Agadir airport, though we did get curious about an American Air Force C-130 sitting on the tarmac with some military types hanging around. Counting Morocco hotel to Paris apartment our travel time that day amounted to almost 12 hours. I did enjoy my conversation with my seatmate (not Linda) though. He had been attending a conference as a whale researcher working for an NGO in Edinburgh, and since he was an ex-patriot Canadian from Vancouver we had some thing to talk about. As it turned out we know some of the same people though he has not lived in Canada for 20 years.

Our trip to Morocco thus came to an end, and though a bit sad to leave, it was only a bit. Next phase, Paris.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Food Topics

Some people have been asking "what is this tajine thing you keep talking about?", so maybe I should describe it again. It's a 2 part cooking dish that looks like this:

Sorry about stealing someone else's image, but I don't have a good one handy. Traditionally a meal is cooked in this over a fire and often on its own charcoal based burner. However nowadays it is not necessarily the vessel that the cooking is done in so much as the way the food is spiced and served.

As far as Morocco goes it is as common as bread. Many restaurants serve little but tajine, and though the meat in it might vary, the basic recipe does not. The next most common foods are the flat bread and olives that come with everything, and the Moroccan salad, which is a simple mix of finely chopped tomatoes and onions with perhaps some cucumber and maybe a simple dressing. You can also get almost everywhere brochette, basically meat grilled on a stick, or maybe brochette sandwiches. some of which are made with french fries inside. They do make good fries here, though don't always have much on them.

Tajines pots are also often available in small sizes for spices or ornamental purposes. This style is very commonly used to hold salt, pepper and cumin for use at the table, cumin being as commonly used as, well...salt and pepper.


The tajines often have several vegetables cooked with the meat, or maybe without meat, carrots and potatoes being most common and they arrive at the table sizzling hot. 

Cous cous we had less that we would have liked. For starch purposes, we got tired of bread and fries but cous cous was not as common as we thought it would be and when it was served it was sometimes served to feed 4 and we did not want that much food. when we did have it, we did enjoy it though.

At places near the coast we aimed for fish, and it was typically very simply prepared too, with sometimes a basic batter but often just grilled with perhaps a bit of salt.  In Marrakesh we had snails several times as a snack, twice one day. Served in a peppery broth, a dish like this cost about a dollar, and came on a Christmas tree tray at no extra charge.


As for drinks, water was the norm when it was not coke or orange juice or coffee. The O.J. was always fresh squeezed, and the coffee always good and strong and often a cafe au lait, for under a dollar. As far as alcohol was concerned Morocco is not exactly a dry country, but almost so.

You can get booze in the major cities if you try hard hard enough, and maybe small centers if you know the right people. We did not try hard, or know the right people, so after almost 3 weeks when we found out that Essouira had a an alcohol shop we searched it out. Lonely Planet did not quite have the location right but were not far off so we did find it. Twice in the 3 days we had beer in that town, but we were still discreet back at our Riad with it.

Anyway after weeks of this and similar food, when we got to Marrakesh we actually had pizza at a place a block from our hotel. It was great but also happened to spiced with cumin of all things. And in Agadir, on the last night we had good old pasta, and lasagna!

Oh yeah the last post.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Windy city of fish, fortresses and surf dudes

First time writing on a bus, but obviously wireless networks are fleeting at best, so this gets uploaded later. At least the bus is comfortable and we have the deluxe seats, first row by the door. The seats on the interurban buses, or at least the Supratour buses operated by the ONCF (the rail network) on this route are assigned seating and since we bought our tickets 3 days ago, we were given seats 3 & 4. There are 2 Nederlanders in 1 & 2 with whom we occasionally chat along the way, mostly regarding the quirks of traveling here.

Leaving Marrakesh for Essaouira right now, a 3.5 hour ride, probably with no camel roadblocks but maybe some donkeys and certainly lots of mopeds. Marrakesh has been delightfully refreshing weather wise and unseasonably so. Last week the temperature was in the 40's but this week it has been in the 20's and the teens at night. In fact it even rained on us a bit sometimes which did not bother us one bit. Essouira might be even nicer due to the coastal location.

The buses are also pretty organized and this bus at least modern and air conditioned. As is common we have to listen to local music which is a little too loud but we have had a lot worse in Asia. It would be nice if they told you that you have to buy luggage tickets when you buy the bus ticket, but at least they do tag the bags under the bus.  We will be spending 3 days in Essouira and then one night in Agadir before flying to Paris. Essouira has a climate approaching that of California, but probably closer to that San Francisco to Los Angeles and maybe a bit warmer. As far as cities go there are probably other parallels in that Essouira is more laid back and an older city. Agadir was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1960’ s and was reconstructed in a modern grid pattern and made into a modern touristy town catering to package tours. We will see soon in any case.

Arriving in Essouira and finding our hotel, Riad Nakhla, was pretty easy. The town is not that big and the bus stopped about 100 meters from the place, as the seagull flies, though we had to walk quite a bit further to find a gate through the ancient fortifications and puzzle out the usual maze of narrow and not well marked streets of the medina.  As usual there were lots of touts trying the sell their hotel and guys with carts to carry bags, but we got clear of them soon.

Once again it is a very pretty place though you would never know it from outside. Lonely Planet again pointed us to the one and got it right this time. If we were one floor higher we would probably have a tiny bit of view of the ocean, which we do get from the roof top terrace.

I could not see them when I took the picture below, but when I zoomed in later I could see a vast array of wind turbines in the hazy background. If the wind we experienced is any indication of how much or how often it blows here, I can't think of a better place for wind power generation. (this is a good opportunity to remind you that you can click on any image to see it larger, though all images have been resized to be smaller than original)

Our first sight of the ocean was from a bluff overlooking the town when the bus driver obligingly slowed down to allow some gawking though did not stop for photos before we descended. One side of town seems to be all new hotels and maybe apartments close to a sandy beach. The old town is largely surrounded by a wall and towers near a rockier shore and even has cannons in place along parts of the fortifications. There is a smaller fort on a tiny island in the harbour and between it and the old town the fishing boats dock at a protected pier.

Essouira changed hands and names number of times between Sultans, Portugal and France before becoming Moroccan in 1956 when the country became independent from France. Now it is somewhat touristy, but in a laid back way and with its wind and waves is quite a surfing hangout. We can see lots of kite surfing going on though, other than a board deserted on the beach, no board surfing so far. The waves are not that high right now but I am sure they get that that way. 

2 days later...

We have walked every street of this town's medina by now, many of them a number of times. I think we are shopped out now, but have made some friends of a carpet salesman, Ahmed, and a local artist Tibari. We bought work from both of them because we liked them, as well as the stuff they had for sale. The young painter spends his mornings on the beach and loves to surf, and even he said today is windy. The season is getting going he thought. Windy it sure is, and that is probably one reason this does not turn into more of a Club Med. 

As it is, you can still see the attraction for tourists and locals alike. It's more relaxed here and the climate, aside from the wind and obvious coolness that can bring depending on the season, makes it pretty darn comfortable. 
The town reminds us of Greece or maybe a coastal Italian or French town, perhaps Portugal, which is apropos as it was controlled by Portugal at one time. The ramparts are a great frame to the white washed stone houses and the surf and rocks and fishing docks give it another element we have not seen elsewhere but are familiar to us from other places we know. The blue dories and larger boats bring in the catch that helps make Morocco the world's top exporter of sardines, and haul in lots of other types of fish as well.

We have seen scampi, turbot, Dorado, sole, eels, lobster, shrimp, squid, sardines, and we think small shark on the docks and in the markets, plus others we don't know the names of. Here we have eaten Dorado, sardines, sole, calamari and baby squid (the cute ones), and in Marrakesh we ate eel as well. I think the sardines and the eel were my favourite

Our first meal here was in the fish souq where the best way to get you meal is to buy it from the vendor and then walk deeper in to have it cooked at the stalls in the back. They do that for you for 30 dirham, and provide you with some salad and bread to go with it. We did not realizes that was the way you should do it, but instead walked in past the stalls and sat down to order food, so the guy then went out to buy the fish and prepare it. Same arrangement except the prices is a bit higher. In a few minutes the fish (about 15 sardines and 2 dorado) arrive grilled with a bit of salt and you eat it with your hands dipped in some hot sauce, accompanied by the ubiquitous flat bread and Moroccan salad, and the almost as common Coca Cola.

Later that day we had fish again, only this time we had it on the water front and here they weighed it in front of you at set prices which were posted clearly and did much the same in the preparation and presentation. The guy who met us here also spoke English well and was able to show exactly how it worked. In the souq I had trouble making myself understood, and I am not sure it was my French or his.

Essouira is also the site of an annual music festival devoted to Gnaoua music which is a mixture of Berber, Arabic and other North African styles and is probably the closest you can come to an indigenous Moroccan music. It attracts artists and fans from around the world, including jazz, reggae and pop musicians. Unfortunately the festival occurs about a week after we leave Morocco, though that might be a good thing as we might not have found a place to stay. The place hums to that beat all the time, plus the odd Pink Floyd and Bob Marley album in keeping with the cool jive theme to this town.

Other notable historic references to Essouira in include the fact that the rocks around here have provided the shell fish that yielded the purple dye used by Imperial Rome. The town was also the principal port of Morocco for some time as it was the closest sheltered harbour from which to transport goods brought over land from Timbuktu though the High Atlas and Marrakesh.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Marrakesh Markets

The medina in Marrakesh is one big market. I am sure many people live here too but it is definitely devoted to commerce. There are specific areas devoted to different styles or types of handiwork or items for sale but it is also all jumbled together.

In one area you will find that most vendors work in wood, other spots metal or fabrics or leather. Spices elsewhere, meats somewhere else, a group of recycled tire craft people in another area  and so on. There is never a firm rule to who sells what where, so you will find it gets all jumbled up too. Sometimes the best sale prices might come from the lonely fish out of water vendor of a specific product in a sea of other goods. Other times the competition heats up among sellers of similar goods. They also seem to share goods, in that if you request a specific size that they don't have they sometimes ask you to wait and they will run off somewhere to get it from another stall. With Linda wearing one end of the size range in sandals and  me the other we saw this more than once.

Sometimes there are more specific souks. The term souk (or souq) means market place, and is usually open air. It might refer to the entire market, but also be a set of stalls all selling the same stuff within a larger market, for example the fish souk or the leather souk where they not only work the leather they sell it too. Once you get into one of those you might find that you get free demos on how they do the work (weaving for example), but they certainly hope that you will buy once they have you in their clutches. The worst thing of course is to ask "how much?", especially if you are not really interested, because then the games begin.

The bargaining I usually leave to Linda, but she is hard-ass. The usual method is to ask a price, and you are given one to which you respond with a price much less, like half or less, maybe a third. He scoffs and come down a fraction, and you come up a bit. It goes on like that and you eventually agree on something in the neighbourhood of half or a bit more of the original price, maybe less than that if lucky or he realizes you are not so new at this and his price at the beginning was deliberately high. You may also decide to close the deal early because he is a bit desperate and you have already found the "real price" elsewhere and can convince him of that. It might also take walking away to get the deal you want. If he follows you, you know you've got him. First sale of the day is also good as closing that sale may mean good luck to the seller for the rest of the day. Last sale might also be good value.

Linda's style however, is to offer her low ball price and stick to it. She usually gets it too, making the sellers cry to boot. They often call her Fatima, or "you a Berber woman!" which is begrudgingly a compliment, but is also describing her as cheap! However once you have closed the sale with handshakes all around, you are now their friend and you might get invited for tea. Of course if you buy more than one item the bargaining power is better, or if you come back later to buy from the same person again you are way ahead of the game.



Friday, June 11, 2010

مراكش إكسبرس = Marrakesh Express

watch for edits to this and some other earlier posts in a few days. I'll be adding more pictures and getting up to date soon when I get more consistent internet connections...and now back to our regularly scheduled program...

مراكش إكسبرس
= Marrakesh Express

Leaving Azilal we headed east and north for a bit climbing somewhat eerily into the clouds before descending toward a lake in the Western High Atlas region. We soon crossed a dam (the lake behind it) and followed the comparatively lush river valley down until we eventually reached an expansive level plain covered in crops. We soon were on the N8 highway and turned to the west and Marrakesh.

Once on the Marrakesh Expressway (can't resist calling it that), we made pretty good time into the city closely following a double decker sheep truck much of the way and after some minor misdirection headed for the airport to return our rental car one day early. We did not get any rebate on the price, but after entering Marrakesh I was convinced that I did not want to drive there any more than necessary. It was not out of control but I did not need the extra agro of figuring out a big busy city. We had to fight a bit on the price for the taxi back to the medina where we were staying, “but there's a system” protested the guy at the stand when we refused to pay the set fair, so we said “but there's a bus”, and it was pulling in, so we got close to our price which was half the rate they asked for. Once again meters are non functional near airports.

The hotel we took this time was also called Gallia like the one in Casa, and had been suggested by some Americans we met in Dumnut. It was quite nice and again Riad style with reasonably well functioning air conditioning, both natural and of the electric kind. It was also very conveniently located at the edge of the medina and just 5 minutes walk from the huge square Djemaa el Fna which forms the vibrant cultural heart of Marrakesh. And what a heart it is...

A lot has been written of this square, by better writers than me, and I really can't describe it adequately. Imagine a carnival, a music fair a la Woodstock (but smaller), and a cooking showdown, then throw in some magic potions, and a bit of time machine, stir well, pump up the volume...and you come close. 

If you wish to have your fortune read, or have your hand henna'd, get your picture taken with a cobra, or with a Barbary ape on your shoulders, buy water from someone with a funny hat and brass things hanging all over him, or the best fresh squeezed orange juice you have ever had for only 40 cents, get yourself smoked while eating some of the best grilled meat ever, or even get something to smoke of your own, have yourself cured by something distilled from ostrich leg, or eat goat's head soup...all of it to the tune of numerous Gnaoua drummers and cymbals and enticements to buy this and eat that... you come here. 

The square is alive almost 24 hours a day. The 60 temporary food stalls set up every evening at 6 pm and go until 1 am, but from then until sun up is the only quiet time. The multi acre square is also surrounded by restaurants and hotels and market stalls, and everyone vies for your business, and sometimes quite aggressively. You had also better not be seen taking a photo of anyone trying to sell or perform here, without being prepared to have some baksheesh change hands.  

Fortunately we were far enough away and facing a quiet courtyard that it was very quiet at our room. I don't think we could even hear the muezzin call the faithful to prayer which was almost everywhere else we have been. Maybe there were fewer practicing Muslims in Marrakesh, or less frequent mosques, but we still did see overflowing crowds at the mosques. 

Anyway people practice everything here, and sell everything else. The selling was the pushiest we have seen, including literally being pushed by a guy in the market trying to get me to eat at his stall. When there are a hundred other places to get the same stuff within a few minutes walk, that ain't the way to get my business bro, and I told him so. These guys got our money instead:

Marrakesh has a larger market than that of Fes, and with wider streets. I hesitated to call them streets in Fes as they were so narrow, but in Marrakesh there are scooters and 2 wheeled trucks and the odd car even going through a lot of them, in addition to the hand carts and, donkeys and occasional horse drawn wagon, so you have to watch your back. As far as watching your back in other ways, it was probably possible to get mugged here, or have your pocket picked but I don't think likely.

Amid the runaway capitalism, or it it just scraping to get by, there are also beggars galore. We have handed change to quite a few, usually the less pushy ones like a blind old man in an alley, and gave left over food to some others, and bought soup for one fellow hanging around outside a stall where we had just had a meal. Gratitude we got in return, but with our own relative wealth it was still really doing almost nothing. Just getting here cost more than most of this people could ever imagine spending, and for a vacation...what's one of those? 


more on Marrakesh soon, markets and museums.    

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wherewaszat to Dumnut

After Todra we could also have visited the Dades Gorge and if I did this again, or could rewind this trip, I probably would. No tears over not seeing it though or the Ksar at Ait Ben Haddou past Ouarzazate (“wherewaszat”...ok, not really..more like “wherezazat” ). The pass through the High Atlas to Marrakesh would also have been nice to see, but we did not want for scenery.

In our quest for cooler climes and not wanting to do the exact standard tourist circuit I had researched a route through the High Atlas to Demnate that was a road less travelled. In fact it was not well known and some people later did not believe we had done it in our basic rental car. There is a well known route from Skoura to Demnate but our route was only a few km, maybe 10-12, outside Whowaszat, about 50 or more km to the west.

When we turned off the signpost said 137km to Demnate, which on the roads we had been traveling on would have taken about 2 hours maybe 3 at most. The highways here have speed limits up to 100, but are often 80 km and often slow down to 60 and even 40 in towns, and that does not account for the carts and other slow vehicles. Drivers for the most part keep to the speed limit or very close, and we saw lots of radar traps set to help enforce that. Not wanting to pay an expensive fine on the spot we did the right thing too.

So what happened to those 2 hours? After the first 20 km I thought this would be a breeze, doing 80 or more. And then we started to climb. And we climbed...and climbed...and twisted...and turned...and more of the same, for about 5 hours. I dubbed it The Road of 10,000 Switchbacks. I know that's an exaggeration but it gives you an idea of what it felt like. 

These were not guard-railed and nicely smooth curves either. It made the driving not quite a white knuckle experience but it came close. The road was quite good at first too but as we ascended it got narrower and worse until for much of the time we had barely a lane wide and often that was broken and eroded pavement and later we had quite a few sections of dirt, some of them quite long and/or rough. I spent most of the time in second gear, both up and down hill to save the brakes. Sometimes first gear and only once in a while I made it to third.

Without any signs for 100 km until the one above, which was not much help, we could only hope we had not made a wrong turn, but regardless the views were incredible with high mountains around us some with snow still. The peaks in this area are up to 3,000 or perhaps 4,000 meters and we reached heights of about 2300. Often we had long cliffs below us and could see the serpentine route below. Unfortunately the narrowness of the road allowed little safe opportunity to stop to take pictures, fearing some vehicle coming around a corner and taking us out. You have heard of those Peruvian bus disasters where 40 people tumble down a mountain side? This may not have quite that risky but at times it felt like it. The good thing was we only saw a few vehicles on this road and for the middle couple of hours not one. One van/bus almost did do a 500 meter dive when it came around a corner straight for us late on this route as they were probably expecting to see nobody else. 

So this is why we dubbed Demnate, Dumnut! 

The town was underwhelming, similar to many others we had passed through and as it turned out we had to go back up out to Imi'n'Ifri, about 8 km away, guided there by a taxi driver who jumped into our car and asked for nothing in return. That seemed a bit odd, and was out of character with the typical guide experience we had been having, but we think he had friends next door.

Our place was great, but not what Lonely Planet had described. This was the first time we found them quite far off the mark as they said it was about half the price we ended up paying and that it was half board (2 meals included) for the price which it was not as food was extra, but as we were out in the middle of nowhere now and were tired and sweaty we did not argue or go elsewhere. 

It was a practically new and beautiful quiet place, nicely decorated and and well constructed. We could have moved our bed into the bathroom it was so large, and we even had a swimming pool! Our food was fine too. I do think the place was our most expensive so far, and may have been worth it based on western standards but was more than we had been used to.       

The area around Demnate and the next town Azilal in particular is considered the gateway to a region off the beaten track unless you like doing your trekking by 4x4 or on foot with guide and maybe a mule, known as the Ait Bougemez Valley. Our agenda did not allow for that kind of travel so we had to make do with just skirting this less developed fairly lush area, unfortunately. 

Azilal was our stop the next day but before going there we did go looking for dinosaurs, or their footprints at least. A few km after Imi'n'Ifri we found the spot after missing it on the first pass. There were kids willing to show it to me for a few dirham, and after wandering the hard red clay for a while without finding T.Rex I let a kid show me the indentations in the dry baked surface. There were several similar to the one above, 3 toed impressions about 6 or 8 inches long. If it was T.Rex, it was Baby T. Even with my recently acquired skills from watching Mantracker I might have looked all day for the tracks, but once you found one you could see others close by. I think someone added a bit of white paint to this one.     

On the way to Azilal we also found another way to cool off, with a stop at the highest waterfall in Morocco and in fact the second highest in Africa after Victoria Falls, the Cascades D'Ouzoud. It was well worth the detour and was a great place to stop for lunch, despite the gauntlet of tourist trap souvenir, craft, and lunch vendors we had to run. We also had to put up with some monkey, or rather Barbary Ape, business on the way down, but the cooling mist was great. 

And we had to take or have taken the obligatory "couple in front of waterfalls" shot, thanks to a Spanish tourist. 

And just one more shot from our hotel room window in Azilal of these 3 women all wearing the traditional hijab head scarf, and splitting a gut over something they are reading or watching on a cel phone. The times they are a'changin'.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Heading for the hills

more later, heading out to eat now

Leaving Khamlia a day earlier than planned was a good idea as much as we enjoyed the stay there. The heat was just too much for us, so we left early in the day as soon as we had cooled off from the camel trekking and had a bit to eat.

We now had at least an extra day to get the rental car to Marrakesh, but being still in hot country in the south and relatively lower elevation we still wanted to seek out more comfortable surroundings. That does not mean missing great scenery though as we had some options that are not any less spectacular than the desert. Morocco's mountains and geologic activity certainly help in this regard.

With no real big obstacles, correction, not many, in our way we headed north past Merzouga, and never wanting to backtrack more than necessary, turned off at Erfoud on a tertiary road that was not bad & saved us about 80 km total driving as well.

The car as I mentioned was not air-conditioned as requested but we had come up with our own solution that helped a lot. We carry with us a couple of super absorbent travel towels and had not had to use them much yet (one place I think), but wetting these and wiping faces with them and wrapping them around necks, or even over driver's left arm to avoid getting a truck driver tan sure helped. Having a good front seat right side person helps too!

Anyway at Tinerhir we turned off for one of the spectacular gorges in the eastern end of the High Atlas mountains, the Todra Gorge. It's about 15 km up to the most remarkable part of the gorge, where it narrows down to about 10 metres wide with 160 meter high cliffs on each side. Our place for the night was Dar Ayour, one of most expensive so far for the night at 570 for the 2 of us. This was for "half-board" which means supper and breakfast included, and is a common pricing mode.

It was a beautiful deep red painted place down behind the donkey barns, and bordering the river. It was the first place we have found any sort of air conditioning other than a natural one and, even though the temperature was overall cooler in the gorge because of our higher altitude, the wind and shadow between the cliff walls and the river, we still had to use it for at least a while. The mud walls again retained the sun's heat and released it through the night so this might have been another night best under the stars on the roof.

We walked the short distance to and along the narrowest tallest section of the gorge before dinner, and then came back to...wait for it...tajine! Gets boring doesn't it?

The morning came with a similar menu as well, bread with jam, tea for her, coffee for me. Boiled eggs on request this time, no olives though. After eating we hopped in the car which was in a garage out front and drove several km further up the gorge until it had opened up quite a bit and where there is a hotel where some of the rooms are caves in the rocky walls. We turned there and headed back down, but stopped for pics along the way, including a couple of 2 rock climbers we saw beginning to scale one of the gorge walls. Serious stuff.

Now spot the climber: