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Not Rockin’ the Kasbah

The long, hot, dusty drive from our friendly oasis in Merzouga wears on us. The vast desert scenery reminds us of Arizona, only much larger. The eternal stretch of road finally starts to show some form of life, in the form of scrub growing on rolling hills. We tire from slow driving through smoky, smelly, small towns where again, nothing but hoards of men walk the streets, with no regard for traffic. What do they do? Where are the women? We already know that the men have little option for employment, and that the women stay home, but witnessing this lifestyle still amazes us.

Todra Gorge

Eventually, we start to climb in altitude and see the likeness of Grand Canyon scenery, though not nearly so dramatic. This breath of rejuvenation brings us into the Todra Gorge, where a fault divides the high Atlas Mountains from the Jebel Sarhro. We stop and walk partway through the gorge, but…we have been here before. The red rock jutting from a small stream below reminds us of the southwest in the States, which we’ve hiked in many places. Not to diminish the splendor, but our guide book tends to see flowers where there is nothing but solid rock. I am convinced that some guidebook writers get most of their information from telephone and internet, while lounging in a recliner at home.

Dade's Gorge

Onward through Dade’s valley to the Dade’s gorge, the towns become more impressive. Boxed dwellings painted pink, clash against white rock in the background. Okay, sorry tourist guidebook industry, but we’re in Utah and Arizona once again. We appreciate this scenery, and discover a renewed appreciation of our hometown as well. Perhaps we are growing travel weary. No, check that…we are indeed exhausted. It happens when you travel. Just once, I would love to read a truthful line in a guidebook that says, “This town stinks,” or “don’t bother going here because…”

 We roll through more end-of-the-world type of scenery to a Kasbah, in the town of Skoura. Off the road, through gravel and rutted dirt, (wishing we had four-wheel-drive) we’re lost in some narrow, dirt alley with typical mysterious smaller passages, where men stand in the shadows. Eventually, we find our guidebook-targeted Kasbah. I mean we are in Morocco. We must stay in a Kasbah…right? The old, tiny castle is all but deserted. The room reeks of musty rags, and despite being tired, we must pass on it. We do not rock the Kasbah. The proprietor, a very nice young man, drops the price considerably, but even we cannot stay here. Not even for free. Off we go…in search of a non-dreary room, maybe a beer, and possibly some food.

 Wella! We find the off-road guesthouse of “Chez Talout,” where the view shows off a massive valley full of palm trees. 

The view from Chez Talout

The towns in this area are built in an oasis, resembling Palm Springs, minus the golf courses. Abdul, the proprietor, drops his price considerably, as we explain that Abu, from Mezouaga, recommends his place to us. We get a fair deal, $100(US) that includes dinner and breakfast. But, we must drive back into town to the one and only grocery store, if we want to purchase beer. We must want beer pretty badly, because we make the drive across sharp rocks, all the while hoping to not get a flat tire. As soon as we walk into the small grocery store, the clerk says, “We have beer and whiskey.” We must look like we have escaped from rehab. 

More Moroccan fare

 That evening, we dine with the only other guests, Mark, and I am sorry but I forget his husband’s name, a nice couple from London. They get excited when they see our beer. So we share beers, the left over wine that Abu gave us the night before (Moonshine-tasting after a day in the heat) and travel stories over dinner. Our group dines on yet another Moroccan feast, but this time featuring chicken.

Tomorrow, “they’re taking me to Marrakesh…all aboard the train.” Go ahead, try and get that song out of your head!

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17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Bridget #

    You’re right – it does look like AZ. The food looks good though – after some of the places you have described staying I cannot imagine what the room you passed on was like….not sure I want to. The blogs are great Ron, you can make them into a guide book and name all the places other travelors should steer clear from! Travelors world over would thank you. :>

    December 11, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      The room really was not that bad… Maybe we are getting a little soft or a little road weary. The food has been good especially for anyone into veggies. It is not northern Spain mind you, but still good. Love ya, M

      December 12, 2009
  2. Holly #

    Travel guide combined with pictures of local dishes..humm. Great blogs, particularly the festival in the desert. Landscape seems barren but the “skyscape” must be fantastic! How’s the eye?

    December 11, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      The bruising is almost gone, but I have a lump above my eye that I don’t think will ever go away. It has been over two weeks! I really took a shot. Glad to hear you are still traveling with us. We so enjoy hearing from people back home. XXOO

      December 12, 2009
  3. Matt W. #

    Morocco
    http://tinypic.com/r/5l8o4l/6

    Everything so far.. with overlay
    http://tinypic.com/r/2z9cjue/6

    December 12, 2009
    • Matt…your map links are the coolest thing ever! Thank you so much! We hope to add many more!
      Peace and Love,
      Ron

      December 12, 2009
      • Matt W. #

        I’ll see if I can export the pinpoints when it’s all said and done and email it to you. It’s just a Google Earth file. Glad you enjoy it.

        December 13, 2009
      • Matt,

        Cool, if possible, we would love it. Would also need elementary instructions, as both of us are technologically challenged.

        Ron

        December 16, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Matt your mapping is one of the highlights for us! Thanks so much for doing this. Anyone checking the blog please click on these links they are very, very cool! So Matt, would you do NORTH Africa w/us?

      December 12, 2009
      • Matt W. #

        The closest I’m getting to Northern Africa is Southern Spain, although the ample supply of Fanta is tantalizing.

        December 13, 2009
    • I’m reading the blog and taking all into consideration for my week in Morocco! What are the map links? They no longer work 😦

      March 1, 2016
      • I’ll try to contact Matt…as I have no clue how to refresh them. Sorry!

        March 1, 2016
  4. Sara Zapata #

    Coolest aunt and uncle, hands down!… Fell into this blog from a link on facebook and can’t stop reading…looking forward to more. Be safe!

    December 21, 2009
    • Hi Sara,

      Awesome compliments, thank you! Hope that the new gyms are working-out well for you guys. Happy Holidays.

      Ron

      December 21, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      So good to hear from you Sara. I hear your Dad and Anna are headed your way – Enjoy! The trip has been quite an adventure. I hope you saw the early blogs from West Africa. Very interesting part of the world. Have a great holiday and good luck w/the new gym. Love to Carlos and the kids!! XXOO Marilynn

      December 21, 2009
  5. Sara Zapata #

    The gym is doing great…keeps us busy! …too busy at times. 🙂 I read everything from the beginning last night. I’ve always has a thing for travel documentaries. Being a mom and business owner means I need to live vicariously through others travels for awhile! :)…Hoping that the gym opens up opportunities to visit such places as UAE and Japan…a possibility of Guam in March ’10…hopefully. Great writing. Are you guys headed home early? -S

    December 22, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Don’t work too hard! We were planning to travel until Feb 1, but because of the serious threat to westerners in Mali we had to abort that part of the trip, and it is too expensive to stay here in Europe. So, we will probably end up going home about one month early. That’s O.K. Two months is a long time to be living out of a suitcase. But we love it. We really do. Happy holidays! Love, Marilynn

      December 22, 2009

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