My plane flight happened to be mostly reading, looking through the window, and taking some pictures. The world truly is prettier from the distance. The sun illuminated the rivers, which shimmered like silver. Rectangular meadows made up a scene, reminding me of a giant duvet. And the mountains were proudly arching underneath us, dressed inmysterious fog. My reading material for the flight included Vojnović's „Jugoslavija, moja dežela“ („Yugoslavia, my homeland“), which I was supposed to read for the Slovene language competition. So I made a use of those 4 hours on the plane, and finished reading it as soon as our wheels touched the Moroccan ground. Is that a travelogue? In a way, but don't judge it by the label. I'm 15 years old, for god's sake, I hope I don't bore the hell out of you.
Anyway, the first thing reminding us, that we're no longer in Europe, was a slightly confusing chase after our cab driver, who was waiting for us on the parking lot. The second thing, driving through Marrakech and looking through the darkened windows of our van. Children, waiting in front of a grocery store, loaded mules, standing next to the road, and the terrible traffic bustle, that I wasn't able to connect to any systems. Then the landscape suddenly emptied, and after an hour and a half, we arrived to a “mountain village” Imlil, where we were “pleasantly” welcomed by the rain. We put our luggage on the mules and walked through the wet settlement towards our accommodation. As well as the owner of the lodge, his son too, who was at our service most of the time, warmly welcomed us, and from the muddy, red and gray village, we entered the world of red carpets and comfortable sofas.
I'd surely like to stay there for more than a day, but we agreed to start our hike to Jebel Toubkal –the highest mountain of north Africa, and Morocco, with its boastful 4165 meters – the next morning. We prepared everything, and silently hoped that the rain's going to stop, while we munched on the delicious traditional Moroccan breakfast (some maybe even hoped for the opposite). And as always, nothing lasts forever. The clouds seemed to clear out, and except some light showers, the weather stayed okay. We started walking in a moderate pace, and besides a bit of a thirst, and exhaustion, we reached the mountain hut (3207 m). We almost slammed ourselves onto the narrow beds, and fell asleep with no problems at all. Some of us were influenced by the heights, but it was not more than a headache. In the morning, I was woken up, and told, that there are 30 cm of snow above us, and that the winds are pretty strong, so we, without our climbing irons, and ice axes, rather turned around, and returned into the valley.
We spent another night in Imlil, pleased with the WiFi connection, and pleasantly numb. It didn't last long. We were on our feet the next day … well, we sat through most of the journey, but we were on the road again. The road precisely was unbelievably long, and when I thought we reached our destination already, the van didn't stop. It patiently continued driving through the endless desert flatlands, or over the millionth hill. I mostly went through all that with my earbuds in my ears, and an 8-hour mix of music from Panic! at the Disco, to Melanie Martinez and Radiohead. And it did end, eventually, and we stopped at a more or less luxurious hotel, near the canyon of Todra. We were nicely welcomed by their porters with turbans. At least they had proper toilets, compared to Imlil. Or even the mountain hut.
After breakfast and a few photos in front of the hotel, we went to visit the famous canyon of Todra. Red limestone, rising up on each side of a vivacious river was pretty fascinating. We walked through with our necks constantly turned up. When we went up the river flow, neat green gardens started to appear. Our loyal driver came soon after us, even though it's pretty fascinating, how we were able to communicate, since he only understood around three English words, and as his, our French was pretty improvised.
This continued with a drive on a bumpy road, and after a few hours, and a finished “Will Grayson Will Grayson” by John Green, we found ourselves in a completely changed desert landscape. Some camels looked at us curiously, when we approached them with our guide. Adorable creatures, folded on the floor like dominoes. After a few French words and gestures, we realised that we should sit on the animals. The female part of the crew were already wearing berberic headscarfs, and I, as my camel rose to its feet, felt pretty Moroccan. When all of us have been comfortably sitting on our animals, the guide pulled the rope and we suddenly found ourselves in the desert. We were surrounded by mysterious orange sand dunes. Sooner or later, the day started to end, so we stopped and watched the stunning sunset. Even though it contained a lot of photo shooting, it still was a magical experience.
After an hour and a half, we finally arrived to the camp, and the bright full moon was already emerging from behind the hills. Everybody's bottom has already felt very painful from the riding, so we were pretty pleased to accommodate to our tents, and wait for dinner. Tajin, rice, sauce and fruits. What else can you wish for? The evening at the campfire, of course. The guides with turbans prepared the fire, and everybody – the Moroccans, Slovenians, Italians, and Americans – sat around the crackeling flames, and thoughtfully observing them, until the guides started to drum. Everything made a pretty distant scene, until the locals started showing off their rather interesting dancing skills. They danced around the fire and persuaded us to dance as well. I was full and pretty tired, so I left for bed before the others … I did have interesting subjects to think about.
We climbed on the camels early in the morning, and rode back to the hotel pretty fast. We finally got the chance to rest for a little while, we ate a delicious breakfast, and sat back into the homeliness of our van. We had 12 hours on the road that day. 12! I already read everything I brought with me, and my phone battery mysteriously disappeared, so I wasn't sure, if I'd be able to survive the ride. I pretty much remember short periods of time, between my naps, on a curvy Atlas roads. It did end though. When we spotted thousands of glowing Marrakech lights, we knew our journey has come to an end.
Marracech was a bit of a shock after the mountains and the desert. When we drove as close to the city square as possible, we got flooded by the massive crowd of people of all nationalities, hurrying here and there. With some panic and exertion, we managed to get our luggage to the hotel. We unpacked and victoriously marched to the market square. Thousands of stands, tourists, intrusive salesmen, and beggars, and it still manages to make that perfect mysterious scene. The smell of oriental aromatic spices, mixed with the scent of pot roasted snails. We walked through, drank some (fateful) orange juice, and ate the most “European” dish we could find – pizzas and sandwiches. We returned to the hotel, feeling pretty delighted. Too bad that we didn't know the trouble were soon to encounter.
It started with Jurij, my little brother, and continued with my older cousins, Urban and Tinkara. Their imune system seemed to reject the substances in the water, with which our glasses were washed, so they soon started to face stomach cramps, dizziness and diarrhea. We stayed anyway, and went to the market square, and a breathtaking park Jardin Majorelle, but the last three days of our trip were sadly marked with illness. I caught myself going to the roof terrace quite a lot. It was peaceful, and I admired the view above the countless Moroccan rooftops and chimneys. I was sorry for our poor patients, who weren't quite able to feel the beat of Marracech in a way they should have.
The last day came sooner or later, so we packed our bags and drove to the airport. We soon separated from theAfrican ground. What did make of it? Well, it soon was an interesting experience, full of fascinating discoveries. I hope, that I'll be able to do something like that again soon. Without the diarrhea, not to be mistaken.