Sunday, February 12, 2017 | Morocco – Guelmin-Oued Noun, Taghjijt | Petra
EXPLORING THE MOUNTAINS OF MOROCCO
We keep on heading south on our route Morocco. We are hungry for more new impressions. We want to see Plage Blanche and we want to soak up the fresh air of mountains. But first we have to go shopping.
We don’t expect too much from Agadir, the touristic stronghold at the Atlantic Ocean, and want to stop here just for a short stay. We need supply for our prepaid internet card and our refrigerator.
A delicious lunch in a nice little restaurant at the promenade, a new dress embroidered with flowers for me (Petra) and a wonderful sunset at the huge sandy beach turn our functional visit into pleasant excursion.
But now we want to escape into nature. Nothing can’t stop us now and we leave Agadir on the regional road to Tafraoute.
After about 50 kilometers we cruise uphill on comfortable and car free roads. We are in the mountain range of Anti-Atlas, which gives us beautiful views again and again. We pass fragrant broom and blooming almond trees. The landscape is getting more beautiful the more we come up. Gorgeous red rocks stretch for the bright blue sky.
When we encounter other people by foot, by car, on a motor bike or a truck along the way, they always wave hello, give us a smile or even a like with thumbs up. We’ve never expected that much of spontaneous kindness. We are deeply impressed.
At Tioulite Tizourgane, a kasbah with its fortified granary, heritage dating from the thirteenth century, we have a break for a late lunch deserved from our on-bord kitchen. It’s wonderful to have the time to watch the beautiful kasbah and the landscape. If somebody passes by he waves hello. A man on a motor bike comes along and stops next to us. “Bonjour!” he says with a friendly smile. “Labas?” (How are you?). Our answer is “Labas, allhamdulillah!” (Everything is fine, thank god!) and he is all smiles. We have a french and english conversation. He is happy that we like to be in his country. Shouting “Welcome to Morocco!” and waving he speeds off.
Ten minutes later a car stops. A man gets off and speeks to Win very friendly. This is how we meet Ali. He is an agricultural economist and is teaching marketing at a college in Meknès. He was born in this area and tells us a little bit about it. To stay here at night with our truck would be no problem and would be save, after all the berber are friendly people, he recommends his homeland. We like chatting with Ali very much. Before he leaves he gives us his phone number and an invitation to give him a call as soon we’ll arrive in Meknès. He would very much like to show us the city.
We feel save and secure in this friendly atmosphere of beeing welcome. We are in a good temper and enjoy driving uphill on a narrow mountain road higher and higher into the mountains. We pass impressing mountains, little villages or single houses. We marvel at endless terraces, that stick to the slopes high. They once were man-made for generations to facilitate agriculture in this region. Today they are underused, too dry is the soil.
Late in the day we set up camp for the night on a wide place in front of the major face of the rock. We probably never had a silent night like this before. Silence around us and an ocean of bright stars above. What a night!
The next morning we continue rolling through the diverse landscape of mountains past waving and smiling people. Motivated by the sun we finally reach Tafraoute in a good mood. The old cozy Berber village is very popular with tourists. Probably this is due to the enchanting surrounding, characterized by a fascinating rocky landscape. Round sanded granite rocks of all sizes, from tiny up to gigantic, form up to exciting formations and flood the dusty landscape. Tall palm trees and almond trees in bloom between and the towering mountains of Anti-Atlas behind. At sunset the mountains show glows of pink and purple, a fantastic play of color.
A few steps from here there should be some painted rocks our guidebook says. We take a close look at „Les Roches Peints“ and climb between the beautiful sculptures of nature. Jean Verame, an artist from Belgium, prefers to use nature as screen and let paint the granite rocks with blue and pink color in 1984. We think: You can do it, but you need not.
It’s warm and we clearly feel the energy of the sun. The beginning of February feels like early summer in Germany. We very much enjoy the landscape and the impressive spectacle of the rocks.
That we’ll have an extraordinary impressive way back to Tafraoute, we don’t know at this moment. Actually we take a different track back to the town. All of a sudden we’re very surprised when a small settlement bars our way. I have to get off the truck and lead Win with the big vehicle through narrow lanes to get not stuck anywhere. The passage turns out to be a high-precision work, every centimeter counts. This time it is not the sun that makes us break out in sweat. Finally, we make it!
After one week of abstinence we again have an appointment at the coast with Susanne, Stefan and Matz, the fire engine. Together we want to venture to do an off road tour through the mountains down to Plage Blanche. Meeting point is a place above a cliff some seven kilometers off Sidi Ifni.
Everybody is happy about our cheerful reunion and therefore it doesn’t matter that the expected colorful sunset remains invisible in the thick coastal fog. To chat and exchange all our experiences of the last days perfectly works even with candle light in the fog.
The order of the following days is off-roading. Just so that we need not to starve in the middle of nowhere we very well stocked up with food.
On our first day we drive six hours on gravel dusty roads uphill, downhill, along the beach, uphill and downhill again. On a specific place on a hill Win has to go backwards, downhill again. To pass the damaged track in front of us with our wide vehicle seems to be impossible. An french couple oncoming with it’s off-road vehicle right now recommends to drive back and use the track along the beach. From there we could go up to the hills again. So, let’s do it!
At the beach we encounter another group of adventurers and have a short conversation with them before we care for the wheels. We heavily deflate the wheels to avoid to sink in the sand and between big pebbles. I watch around and wonder about the promotional signs here on this lonely spot on earth. Cafe and restaurant Le petite paradis must be very small, since we can’t find it.
Today we just make only 24 kilometers. Well, distance has no priority in off-roading. It’s rather a question of mastering tricky passages and drawbacks. The off-road training prior to our journey pays off now. The tour is magnificent, exciting and extremely appealing. Vehicles, drivers and co-drivers give full effort.
Later we take it as calmly as possible that suddenly the power supply on board completely breaks down. No light, no heating, no refrigerator, no water pump is working any more. In the middle of nowhere.
Win and Stefan (and me too) pore over possible causes. The result of the diagnostics: We postpone the problem to tomorrow. I try to imagine how we will act in days to come without electricity and I am glad to have a gas stove for cooking. Apart from this we do have the external generator as well. Anyway our chances of survival are quite good.
On top of the cliffs we can find a fabulous place for the night – a perfect dream. Next to us some dromedaries be grazing with greatest tranquility and only the rushing noise of the ocean can be heard. We don’t have electricity but internet. Welcome to the wild 2017.
The next morning, after breakfast, we set our full hope on Stefan. Win may have the technical equipment – in that case a multimeter – but only partly the knowledge how to use it. Stefan on the other hand, technic hero and engineer, may not have bells and whistles on board but he knows what to do with it.
His diagnostic: The battery watch is broken and blocks out electricity. But when the engine is running, we note, electricity is back again. That’s great because the refrigerator keeps on cooling while we are driving. Tonight Stefan will bypass the malfunction. Now we move on a short way.
We move forward similar quickly like the day before. On our way in the wide solitude we run across our friend Uli. Some days before we met him at the cliffs of Imsouane. Time after time our ways are crossing and then we joyfully interchange all our news.
After a long way of rocking on stony dusty tracks and exciting paths we finally make it to the northern, less spectacular part of Plage Blanche. The beach is not white but gray beige and filled with big pebbles. The white sand dunes we will skip freely this time due to the not cooperating weather. It is rainy, cold and very windy – definitely not what you expect from a perfect beach weather.
In the evening Superman Stefan actually conjures electricity for us and everthing is fine again. Thanks a million!
Filled with the fantastic expriences of the last days we finally collapse into bed happy about the best electricity in the world. It’s a wonder that we don’t want to sleep with all lights on.
We hardly can believe our luck.