|Life is not easy when you're a donkey|
Although we enjoyed the pulsing energy and colorful atmosphere in Marrakech, our 2 days spent traveling though the Atlas mountains were a welcome contrast. Before we left home, we had arranged to have a guide (thanks, Julie!) and driver take us to see some of the Berber villages in the High Atlas and Anti Atlas mountains south of Marrakech.
Rachid and Hassan picked us up at our hotel and drove us out of the city. The landscape changed dramatically as we climbed into the High Atlas mountains. The mountainsides were dotted with small villages whose homes and other buildings were constructed with bricks made from local mud. The colors of the structures varied depending on the minerals found in the surrounding rock and soil which ranged from light beige to shades of chocolate brown, green (copper), yellow, purple and red (iron). The homes in one village might be pale yellow and the next one might be a deep red color. The contrast was strikingly beautiful.
While Marrakech is bustling and crazy, the villages are small and peaceful. Some towns are just now receiving electricity, laundry is washed in streams and the market is still the main event of the week. At the centrally located weekly markets, Berber villagers barter using animals as currency, and pass along mail from one village representative to another.
|View of Telouet from the kasbah|
Our first day's highlights included a drive along the Tizi'n'tichka pass; the highest road in Morocco, a visit to the Kasbah (fortress) at Telouet, a delicious lunch in a small village, a visit to a argan oil cooperative, and a hike to the top of the amazing village of Ait Ben Haddou.
We stayed overnight in Ait Ben Haddou and enjoyed a fantastic dinner of kefta tagine with egg, chewy bread and refreshing orange slices sprinkled with cinnamon at our hotel La Fibule d'Or. In the morning, breakfast was served on the hotel rooftop with stunning views of Ait Ben Haddou reflecting the early morning sun.
|The view from the rooftop of our hotel in Ait Ben Haddou|
Day two's adventures included a visit to the Kasbah in Ouarzazate and the Atlas Studios. We were surprised to learn that the Atlas Studios are responsible for such films as 'Jewel of the Nile', 'The Passion of Christ' and 'Gladiator.' We were expecting a cheesy tour, but really enjoyed seeing sets and props and hearing stories about movies made there. Okay, it was still kind of cheesy, but it was fun!
|A bit of movie magic at Atlas Studios|
After one last tasty tagine in a little village with Rachid and Hassan, we returned to Marrakech. We know that without Hassan's steady hands and quick reflexes behind the wheel, and Rachid's wealth of knowledge and appreciation for his country, we would not have had such an enjoyable experience. In fact, we'd probably still be driving in circles trying to get out of Marrakech!!
|Rachid and Eric discuss world affairs and soccer|
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