Little men [Morocco 4/7]

The plan for today is very ambitious. Start in the morning from Ouarzazate, go to Ait Ben Haddou, and continue to Ouzoud waterfall that day. Hitchhiking as usual doesn’t disappoint us – when we reach the roundabout from which we have to catch a ride, even before we can put backpacks on the ground and pull the thumb, the first car stops. We reach the crossroads, where from the main way a small road heads towards the fortress which is still 10 km away. After a short time, the car that had previously driven without stopping turns back to take us. We meet 2 German girls, who also visit Ait Ben Haddou. This way we have a ride to the fortress, we do not have to walk around with heavy backpacks, because they can stay in the car and we have a return trip to the main road, which we will then follow to Ouzoud. Brilliant!

Kazba (or fortress) in fact is smaller than it appears from photos. At first we have a problem finding it, but with the golden rule of following the souvenir stalls we are able to find it.

Pomimo dobrego oznakowania, nie spotkaliśmy Gladiatora :(
Despite the good signage, we did not meet Gladiator 🙁

Today’s riddle is also the place where all the pictures of the kazba are made. A view from the main entrance looks completely different. We find it walking a little off the main road, across the river, where we are witnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of young Moroccans. They help the tourists to keep their balance while walking on stones across the river, of course pulling out their hand for a payment after the service. If they receive candy or not enough money, they express their dissatisfaction loudly.

Ait Ben Haddou
Ait Ben Haddou in all of its mighty.

After a sightseeing tour, the girls take us to the main road and drive the other way. We’re pulling our thumbs. When after a few minutes we see an approaching black Opel Insignia, Michal says: “This is a good car, we could go with that one.” You name it! The car stops and we meet Ahmed with whom we spend another 3 hours. Ahmed is going to Agadir, he can take us to the crossroads up to a dozen or so kilometers, but decides to change the route and go through Marrakech to drop us as far away as possible! Take a look at the map, how long he went way about. With Ahmed, we catch a really nice, friendly contact. We learn from him many interesting facts about Morocco and Islam such as the fact that Moroccan people love their king. Muhammad VI is quite a young king, but Ahmed says he is following a very reasonable policy and is commonly respected. In Morocco everywhere in hotels, restaurants or simply on buildings you can see portraits of the king. In addition, the King’s birthday is a national holiday. It is quite interesting that in Poland we choose our own government in democratic elections, and so many people (if not most) are very unhappy, while in Morocco people are not given the choice – Muhammad VI inherited power from his father. And yet he managed to ‘buy’ into the grace of the vast majority of citizens. Another interesting thing we didn’t know before is that in Islam, wearing a hijab is a choice for a woman, not a duty. It is an individual matter, dictated by personal religious considerations, or by tradition. In Morocco you can meet Muslim women dressed in European style and with exposed heads. Morocco is considered the most open and tolerant Muslim country in the world 🙂

Returning to the story: The road we drive leads through the mountains and gives us such views:

Droga przez Atlas
Snowy mountains in a sunny day. Wonderful!

After some time together, a question is thrown: “Are you hungry? Just don’t be ashamed!” We are hungry as hell, didn’t eat breakfast (we wanted to eat at Ait Ben Haddou, but somehow it didn’t happen), but not wanting to abuse the hospitality we say yes, but we have food and will eat as soon as we get out of the car. “There is a place nearby where a good tajine is served. I invite you to dinner.And this way we are once again fed, and this good tajine turns out to be the best we have eaten during our entire stay in Morocco. We are all the happiest, because we probably wouldn’t eat such tajine on our own. Usually we were looking for food at a lower price range… An additional advantage of this roadside inn is that traditional bread is on offered here, which is usually an addition to the food. We get one more bread from Ahmed for our further way.

Dostajemy świeżo wypiekany chleb!
We receive freshly made bread!

After 3 hours sadly we split up with Ahmed, who is heading for Agadir, and we head towards Ouzoud. Frequently, conversations with drivers are slightly forced, if the conversation doesn’t go its own way, we ask about things about the country, which we usually already know, or tell a lot about us, our trip, about Poland, although we are naturally not that talkative. Here, there was no problem. We spent time and talked with Ahmed completely naturally and freely and his help was really priceless to us. And this tajine 😉 But, well, we have to go further. We are already on the other side of the mountains, with this view behind us:

Po drugiej stronie Atlasu
Nice idyll, isn’t?

We know that today we won’t reach Ouzoud (the road through the mountains was beautiful but very curvy, so it took us a long time to follow it), and we certainly won’t see waterfalls this day. Our goal is to get as close as possible to them. We catch the opportunity to Demnate. When we reach the place, we are about 20 minutes till dusk. We decide to hitchhike for 15 minutes, then go to look for accommodation. Literally in the last minute the car stops, and we go to Azilal. It’s very close to the waterfalls. We called our driver Mr. Joker. He laughs a lot, often, and very ridiculously. It is difficult to describe someone’s laughter, but imagine the most inappropriate (in a positive meaning) laughter to a gentleman in an elegant jacket. Mr. Joker just had this. He knew every person in the area, stopped on the road lots of times to “laugh around” with everybody, even with the police. After this funny journey we find a hotel after the sunset and prepare a plan for tomorrow. It was super funny!

The road leading to the waterfalls is, unfortunately, a small road going away from the main road. When we get to the intersection around 8am, traffic is negligible. We have to use a taxi that will take us to the waterfalls. We are there very early, and there aren’t many tourists.

Ouzoud
Ouzoud waterfalls

Waterfalls unfortunately didn’t want to pose for a photo and all the pictures we have from there are against the sun. But believe us that it’s breathtaking there. But what made us talk about Ouzoud, as a mandatory point of the tour to Morocco, are the “little men” there. The macaques in Ouzoud are not afraid of people at all. They know what they want and what they can get. At first, when they started jumping on us, we were a little scared. Then, however, the charm of little men won with fear. And the willingness to take brilliant pictures, of course. For those who have been to Gibraltar monkeys probably are not such a big attraction. But we had the first contact with the macaques, and it was so close. We were most fascinated that they really reflect small people in behavior, in movements, in mimics. Only that they are more fluffy. And they may have fleas.

We could have spend the whole day there, they are great. But the plan foresees several more points for that day, there is no reluctance. We have to go further.

Jeden z bardzo wielu czasoumilaczy przy wodospadach
One of the many timekeepers at waterfalls

 

Feeding time

 

Michał i jego ziomek
Michal and his buddy

 

Ludzka małpia dłoń. Ma paznokcie, nie pazury!
Human monkey hand. It has nails, not claws!

 

Here’s a map of our route.

 


About how not to buy djellaba and how could we get stuck in a mountain village you can read in the next post [click].