I have just arrived in Marrakech, seen my old friend Redoine and caught up on news. He now has a small travel agency, off the Fna Jamal Place, and before I know it I am booked on a day trip to the Emlil Valley the following day! Whoa!!
I am to join two Dutch young ladies. Bright and early – but not too much – we are picked up by a small mini-bus and our driver starts making his way out of the city, in no time we are on a clear flat road driving towards the Atlas Mountains. I have been here before but this time we take a turn left and go to a different valley.
The landscape changes as soon as we turn to a narrower road which starts climbing along the mountains. On the right the high rocks and on the left the valley with the river, at first a dry bed with no water.
|The dry river bed|
|Mud houses blend in the landscape|
The local ‘highway maintenance men’ are making repairs and are taking off debris and other stuff (bicycle, etc.) from the river bed in preparation for the rains.
|Highway maintenance river men|
|Emlil River valley|
Stop and start on the road as there are lots of cars, carts and animals coming the opposite ways and huge holes and cracks on the road surface. Alongside the road are also locals selling small wares or fruit & veg and also families on a day out, as it is Sunday after all.
The opposite side of the river bed has a hilly / mountainous landscape with perched up houses. These are the typical homes made of mud and dirt in brown / red colour. Outside the homes is hanging the washing on makeshift lines and small allotments are being tended. Date trees nearby provide shade as well as fruits that will be soon sold.
|Snow on the Atlas|
As we start our slow climb from the village, we meet locals all dressed up going down the way to the village. They are dressed in their Sunday’s best. Strange like everywhere is the same.... As we climb on the left is the old local mosque which is now abandoned as it made way to a more modern and larger one to accommodate the growing population.
As we continue to climb, the path becomes narrower and all around us we see orchards full of apples and walnuts trees. While we climb the temperatures become a little cooler making climbing easier. Our path goes through small villages / hamlets and homes.
|Old fashion ceilings|
|Apple and walnut orchards in the valley|
Local children and chickens are sharing the path with us, up and down rickety steps, with the occasional grandma accompanied by young grandchildren.
I don’t know how long we climbed, I walk regularly but mainly flats – as I live in Hertfordshire there are not many mountains – and therefore I was feeling a little out of breath. As I was the older in the group, very graciously the other two ladies in my party waited for me together with our guide. After a while our guide suggested a stop. By then we had reached a small group of houses and also arrived to our guide brother’s house which he also shared. Inside the house we met his sister in law and his 6 years nephew.
Outside the kitchen - at the end of a passageway - was a living room, before it - on the left a curtained window (a bedroom?) - and on the right a balcony with a view of the valley we had been climbing up to then.
The view was fantastic and it provided also an insight on local village life as we could see into people’s courtyards. Trees, recycled containers containing geraniums and other flowering plants and herbs mixed with large dusty disks to receive television channels.
|View from the terrace|
|View from the terrace|
|Inside our guide's home|
|Mint tea, local walnuts and freshly baked bread|
|6 year old enjoying playing games on an i-phone|
|Building a car park|
|Let's build a car park!|
|The sun playing peeka-boo|
|Cultivation in the valley|
|Caught in the rain....and rainbow|
|Back in Taourirt|
|Spectacular views from restaurant's terrace|
|Omlette Moraccan style|
|Leaving for Marrakech on our mini-bus|