Escaping the snow [Morocco 5/7]

Returning from the monkeys, we arrive at Azilal to take our backpacks out of the hotel and continue on. It turns out that this is the day of the souk in this town, so we decide to visit it. It’s the biggest and most interesting souk we have ever come across. Souk occupies a vast space on the outskirts of the town and is divided into zones: with clothes (rather cheap Chinese), with used things of all kinds, with fruits, with vegetables, with cookies and dates, and with raw and grilled meat, even with places to pray. You can spend a lot of time there, buying delicious dates 4 times cheaper than in Marrakech. Because the monkeys ate most of our breakfast, our bellies suggest that wherever there is smoke and smells good, it is very cool. And actually it is.

Souk
Cuisine from the bazaar. Delicious!

 

Souk
Butcher’s. Fridge? Who’d bother…

You can buy a raw chicken breast in one stall, on the other someone will prepare it, then sipping tea you acn eat the dinner among other Moroccans. There are also faster options (for grilling there is a noticable queue). We decide to buy a local kebab, a roll filled with meat in onions and olives. All fried together, seasoned with Moroccan spices. Meat turns out to be a liver. Despite all my hatred for this particular type of meat, cultivated scrupulously from childhood, it tastes me. Very much. Really, it’s delicious. The only liver in my life that I eat with taste. We order a second portion, and while sitting on the plastic stool we get a glass of drink. Dinner for today checked.

Having eaten, we buy fruits, pick up our rucksacks from the hotel and move. The next point of the program is Lake Bin El Ouidane, which presents itself very nicely:

Bin El Ouidane
Bin El Ouidane

We get an interesting ride – three Moroccan teenagers completely different from the stereotype. A boy and two girls, dressed in European style (they even had deep decolts!), went out to the lake to make selfies. We didn’t expect such attractions in Morocco. We spend some time together near the lake, which on a closer look loses lot of charm, but we manage to catch such a view:

Bin El Ouidane
Boatie

 

With crazy teenagers we go further to Beni Mellal, where we plan to spend the night at Jacob’s place from Couchsurfing. The ride is full of karaoke to loud music and dances (in the car of course). When we reach the city, it turns out that Jacob gave us a wrong address, to make matters worse we ended up having used an internet package, so contact is more difficult. The shopkeeper from whom we buy the top up is very engaged in helping us. He calls Jacob several times, helps us activate a new package while serving his clients. Waiting for Jacob we to Youness – a boy younger from us at first glance. We talk a  while and then he invites us to his home (!). He says we can sleep at his place, brings us dates, gives us his number. We have already spoke with Jacob, so we don’t want to change plans in the last minute (moreover, he is already coming, because the shopkeeper explained to him where we are waiting), yet again we are very surprised by the Moroccan hospitality. Youness still writes to us today.

When we finally meet Jacob and go to the apartment to leave our backpacks, then we go for a walk around Beni Mellal. The city itself doesn’t knock us on our knees, but on the outskirts there is a nice park. Our host turns out to be the best English-speaking person we met in Morocco, and his energy level is probably over 9000! The next day we go to the aforementioned park and shopping – we want to buy djellaba, a traditional Moroccan robe. We decided to buy it here because it was the last non-touristic (non-planned) spot on our way. We take Jacob with us as a local negotiator for a better price. Unfortunately, as a result of minor misunderstanding Michal buys djellaba for a little more than we initially thought. The better place to buy it is Ouzanne, but being here we still don’t know we will be there. About the bazaar in Ouzanne we will tell later.

On the same day we plan to reach Fes, stopping earlier in Ifrane – a village recommended by many locals. Catching a ride on a rather busy road in Beni Mellal, not on the outskirts, requires a little more time than before, but we still can’t say that we are waiting a long time. When the car finally stops, we get lucky – the ride is up to Ifrane itself (230km!). Three cousins ​​take us, one of them speaks English, the rest unfortunately no. During the conversation, we get a dinner invitation – they propose us to join the driver’s sister’s house on couscous. It’s Friday, the most important day of the week for Muslims, and the family tradition is couscous. So we have the opportunity to participate in a family holiday.

Couscous
Stuffed with couscous we eat oranges.

Ifrane, which we were planning to see, is a village in which you can ski in Morocco. In winter there are snowfalls (although in other parts of the country the temperature during the day is about 25⁰C), so in the village there are sloped roofs (just like in Poland in the mountains) and ski lifts. When we get out of here, the temperature is low, and the wind rips our heads. The conditions are not really adequate for sightseeing, but what is worse is the ending daylight – our driver was not a road rager, and the family dinner did not last 5 minutes. We have 20 minutes until dusk and we have to decide quickly whether we are going to visit Ifrane and stay here overnight or go further to Fes. We choose the second option. We quickly catch a ride (the driver is American who is a professor of philosophy at a local university and speaks fluently English, Arabic, Spanish and French and has stories to tell from 40 different countries he visited, including Poland from 80’s and 90’s). In the evening we reach the apartment of our host. The next day it turns out that this night in Ifrane fell more than a meter of snow and the road to Fes is inaccessible. And as it was Friday, there was a high chance the plow would have arrived on Monday. If we had decided to stay there, we would probably be stuck for a few days, completely unprepared for winter conditions. Good choice!


About the rainy Fes and the best breakfast in Morocco you will read in the next post [click].

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