The internet is horrible in our five star hotel in Marrakesh. The front desk told me that it rained yesterday and that is the cause. They really believe that. Do you? I don’t. The internet has consistently been horrible throughout Morocco. I don’t mind but it delays my blog and important situations are currently happening in the world that greatly effects our way of life. Oh well, we will endure
Seven of us met the bus for an optional tour of the Ourika Valley. The travel company we use sometimes sells optional tours that are not included in our itinerary as part of the total cost of the trip. We always buy all the optional tours and this one was exceptional. The Ourika Valley is locates about thirty minutes outside Marrakesh. It is a very fertile area where livestock and agriculture are the main products, but tourism is catching up. The Ourika Valley is also at the foothills of the higher Atlas Mountains and is Berber country. Our first stop was to visit a Berber household and see how they live. Their house has been expanded many times as the family grew. All the generations of that family live in the house from grandparents to the very young. The house and its additions were built of hard adobe clay, mud and straw. The hole in the ground served as the bathroom. The kitchen was very basic. One interesting item was the Berber sauna. Th sauna is a small house made of the same materials as the house that is kept hot by a fire inside. There was no shower and the Berbers use this to take a shower in by extending a hose to the inside. The family served us great mint tea and hot bread freshly made with honey, olive oil and butter. Olivia loved the bread. Far different way of living than most of us live. How lucky most of us are.
We then made two stops to take pictures. Camels were on the side of the road at each stop. The first herd of camels had a baby and the baby was nursing. I had never seen a baby camel nurse. The second stop looked onto a huge mountain range that was covered with fresh snow. Imagine seeing camels and then looking at mountains covered with snow. How diverse can you get.
Let’s talk about picture taking for a minute. The Moroccan people are very photogenic and I could have taken thousands of pictures of them. Unfortunately, most of them do not like their picture taken and stop you before you can take the picture. Furthermore, some of them demand money to take their picture and I refuse to get involved in that. It is what it is and life goes on.
Our last stop on the optional tour was to a local botanical garden. We were given a tour by a young local Berber girl and explained and shown all the flowers, spices and other plants that were being grown. We were then each given a foot bath in our own separate sinks. The Berber girl added some ingredients that made my feet very relaxed and refreshed. We were then led to an outdoor dining area to be served lunch. Next to the area men and women were cooking our beef and chicken over an open flame. Freshly squeezed orange juice was served and I can tell you that it felt like drinking a bottle of five hour energy. Various Moroccan salads were in the middle of the table and of course fresh bread. We were then served the beef and chicken. The beef was made as Kufta. I can honestly tell you that I have been eating Kufta for fifty years and this was the best I have ever had. The Kufta or ground beef was mixed with various spices and herbs that were all grown there.
We then boarded the bus for our drive back to Marrakesh. We were dropped off at the Djemaa el Fna Square with another couple to go back into the Souk for more shopping. I have grown tired of shopping while I am traveling, but Olivia has taken up my slack. I have bought nothing, but Olivia has more than made up for me. The Souk was very crowded since the weather was sunny and dry. It is not enough to navigate people while you are walking, but you also have to navigate carts and motorbikes as well. We started at around 2:30 and by 4:30 I had enough. Olivia and myself left the other couple and we went into an old original restaurant on the Square names “Cafe France”. There were some old black and white photos of what the Square and the restaurant used to look like many years ago. We both sat down and drank some great coffee. The Moroccan coffee is served with hot milk. We just sat and watched the waves of humanity walking by. It seemed like we were watching a movie and could have sat there much longer. After about an hour of people and other character watching, we finally got up and fought our way to the taxi stand for a ride back to our hotel. It was then about an hour to relax and fight with the internet. Oh I forgot, it rained yesterday.
We walked across the road to a beautiful mall and had a great Moroccan dinner of beef tagine and cus cus.
We leave Marrakesh for Essaouira tomorrow. Essaouira is on the Atlantic Ocean and our guide recommends the shopping there. I hope I do not run out of money.