Moroccan Adventure By Ote Dale, O.A.R.S Guide

4th June 2013

I left a city where sloppy money flies through hands
like fallen leaves in a swirling wind,
a fairy tale town of somewhere else
where a wonton man crafted Lake
quietly shrinks to half pool
soon to be cracks in mud
Eventually thirst will consume
This fantasy

I flew south to another thirsty town in Texas

Then to Paris where I frustrated around changing not just planes but airports. Finally boarding a jumbo jet headed to Marrakech Africa. There after 1-hour of custom lines and the process of changing currency. I stepped into Africa, I was (thankfully) greeted by not one but two burly, handsome, jolly good river guides. Hamish and Steve. Here is my story….which I will edit as I remember!

Smiley Steve after preparing lunch on the way to the river

Smiley Steve after preparing lunch on the way to the river

We traveled in Africa, 16 folks and our fabulous guides to show us the way! We left the bustling city of Marrakech, with it’s fields of olives and almonds and drove fast on steeply winding roads into the Atlas Mountains headed out to run the wild Ahansel river. Hamish shouts, “Get ready for a rubbish view!” We stop for lunch overlooking the lake where our river trip would end and had a picnic looking at a view of spring green, blood red from iron rich rock and bright blue surface from the lake. We rode high atop the van the final stretch of bumpy dirt road down into a valley where the scene is reminiscent of Yosemite and Half Dome. Here with my trained river eye, I could see we were in for an adventure. The river was milky, cold and fast. They told us the best thing to do was to stay in the boat. But, if by chance we were thrown out Lovemore our Black as night Zimbabwe kayak support guide would with along with his big smile save us.

Myself. BB and Marsha looking ready for action!

Myself. BB and Marsha looking ready for action!

We paddled through rapids such as Wee Stinky, Rock the Kasbah and Cheeky Monkey, day five we paddled into a narrows barely wide enough for our boats, with limestone walls straight up vertical. Eli our paddle guide yelled to us: “Hang on and do not fall out here!” Our guides kept us out of the rapid cold waters and camped and fed us like kings and queens. We thrilled each day anew with unexpected adventure. Meeting the native peoples and even wandering among their gardens and goats. We were rained upon and warmed by the sun sometimes both at the same time. We saw Monkeys, turtles, goats, and birds. The clump mat like cactus astounded me as it was covering the hillsides like bumpy grass. Our camps each night were set up in locations that were all different and unique. One night the crew with tedious care made everyone individual pizza’s, this special night filled us with party happiness.

Food was spectacular!

Food was spectacular!

After our return from our river adventure we traveled again in Morocco through deserts that were many delicious shades of brown including the buildings made from river mud, straw, dung and lime all from the earth, all we viewed blended into a delicious cultural soup.

The last gorges are STUNNING!

The last gorges are STUNNING!

Our first day we went up and down steeply winding roads into mountainous hills through green fields dotted with bright red poppies. We drove in and out of towns always made of mud, always a Kasbah and always a Mosque. The women were most often covered from head to foot with colorful or black burka’s usually only their eyes could we see, secretive view. We stayed here and there in Africa’s finest hotels and ate olives and bread and food served from Tajene’s, richly spiced with Tarragon, saffron, and ginger. Always oranges for desert sometimes spiced with cinnamon. We drank a lot of nous nous (coffee). We laughed a lot! And sipped our wine.

One day Mohammed our friendly, funny Muslim guide stopped at a HUGE dusty market place full of tents and stalls where products from live animals to hanging meats to fruits, veggies, spices, cloth, and more could be purchased. The spice stands were colorful platters of cone shaped spices of reds, oranges and browns, purchased by weight. There were hundreds of, like bees buzzings, shoppers and as many haggling and jesting marketeers selling their wares. It was amazing to see. I realized not just here but everywhere in Morocco that the reason there are NO fat people is because everything here that gets eaten is either fresh picked, fresh killed or fresh baked.

Another day we parked our van and ate under a tent of cloth sitting on stuffed pillow cushions, after our meal we were delivered to a room of rugs and another of jewels and cloth. These rug sellers told us a colorful story of each rug pattern and then boldly cojoled us to purchase, and many did.

Another day we visited an old part of one town where shops were set up in the ruins of another time and the narrow walk ways of cobbles wound around we worked our way up to a tower look out. Here in this village of shoppes is where we ladies purchased our colorful scarves and trinkets.

Our journey by van ended at the edge of Morocco in the Sahara. We thrilled as we were literally launched up onto a camels back. We then clip-clopped, the camels feet splaying out the sand as they crossed the endless fiery orange sand dunes. We dismounted and climbed the sand and sat and watched as the orb of the sun sank into the earth, light so sensual and luminous, bringing exuberant joy to us all. We mounted once again and rode our camels into the night to our tented campsite where we wined dined and laughed. We slept that night in tents made of cloth or in the sand under the blazing star filled sky. Spectacular. Some folks got up that next morning and went out and played upon the sand one last time!

If you haven’t seen this part of the earth, GO it was an adventure I will forever treasure. Thanks to OARS the world wide travel company that I currently work for in Grand Canyon and that booked this amazing adventure, also to Hamish the owner of Water by Nature and to all our fabulous guides. And thanks to BB for inviting me along.

Ote Dale

by Hamish McMaster

Hamish McMaster is the Water By Nature owner. He has spent the past 25 years exploring and playing on the world's great rivers. He still loves nothing more than getting out there and sharing adventures.

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