Highlights of Morocco – Chapter 5: Kasbahs, Palaces and Goodbyes

DAY 7: Erfoud • Road of 1000 Kasbahs • Ouarzazate

MolehillsAs we travelled alongside the sahara, large molehills appeared, accompanied by another tale from Graham about the giant moles responsible! They were by humans to reach for water; they dug down to the water stream so these molehills were in regular lines following the stream giving a moon surface appearance. Great care had to be taken not to fall down the central hole.

There were many individual family kasbahs. Kasbahs always have a turreted structure; they have a structural life of 20 years if not well maintained, they must be rendered annually. They usually have a central courtyard and windows with metal grilles are not for security but are based on the old traditions when women were not free to go out, houses had a wooden screen with peepholes for them to look out, thus being hidden from strangers and keeping the women private.

DAY 8: Ouarzazate • Ait Benhaddou • Marrakech

As we left, we passed areas where many films had been made – the centre statue on a road island was a few film reels as a tribute to an industry which had brought wealth to the area.

We were about to travel 105 km of mountain road; along a road which twisted and turned as we rose to 2260 ft. Why does the road never seem so high or twisty as you rise, as it is on the knuckle whitening descent?

Ceiling of the main roomWild boar is hunted in these mountains; by organised groups with local villagers acting as beaters – Muslims cannot eat the boar meat, so it is only for sport.

We Brits returned to our first hotel, while the non Brits visited it for the first time; this hotel had provided a great start to the holiday and would now be a fitting place for us to say goodbye.

A visit to the Jemaa el Fna square at night alive with people, snake charmers and the unavoidable sellers of trinkets, preceded another Moroccan evening, but this time in a marquee decorated and furnished in true Moroccan style, and sheltered in beautiful gardens beside the casino!

A traditional meal followed by traditional oriental and folklore  entertainment including snake charmers and a troupe of acrobats; a couple from our group volunteered to get up on stage and seemed quite unfazed by a scorpion placed on his face and a snake draped around her!.

DAY 9: Marrakech

The Pharmacy

The last “alarm, coach leaves”; our usual late passenger was reprimanded as we would now not be first into the palace!

We walked through the rose gardens and then on to the palace where yet again we were dazzled by the decoration of the rooms with their intricate mosaic patterns.

We moved on to the square making a visit to a pharmacy  for a talk on various products including rose water and argon oil, a wonder product; there was a sale pitch with several buy 3 get 4th free, and many bought products as we knew they were genuine.

A short time to visit the mausoleum which was very crowded, a point not missed berating, humorously, the latecomers!

Is it a palm tree?Many telephone masts are disguised as palm trees complete with dates!

Back to the square where various restaurants were pointed out plus the best route to see some souks without becoming lost!

We had time to ourselves so a leisurely lunch followed by a stroll around the souks with successful bartering for some souvenirs,  and a ride back to the hotel in a horse-drawn carriage.

Then there was time to swim, laze around or enjoy a siesta before our evening meal.

Our carriageBedtime was much improved that night as I didn’t have to have an alarm call, get my cases out on time or race to ensure I didn’t incur the jocular Wrath of Graham. I could get up when I liked, pack in a leisurely fashion and relax around the hotel until my departure time; Graham had arranged for us to keep our rooms until quite late in the afternoon and our transfer was effortless as a courier collected us and guided us into our departure queue so all we had to do was relax whilst waiting for our flight.

Where had the 10 days gone? They had passed in a kaleidoscope of colour, an enumerable number of facts, countless anecdotes from Graham, and a variety of delicious foods, all enriched by the companionship of my travelling companions. A brilliant experience! 

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Diana Davies

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