Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Part II

Eight o’clock Sunday morning found me waiting on the corner of the grassy lawn just in front of the entrance to the Oudayas. Even though it was early it promised to be another scorcher of a day. Since we were going to a gorge I thought western clothes were called for in the circumstances. I don’t have any proper “desert clothes” with me, so it was jeans, a short sleeve pullover shirt, and Q’s snazzy little cap. I took along my silky beige djellaba top in the hope the plane would be cool enough to require sleeves. I could feel the ocean breeze blowing on my neck and I knew I would miss it today. I wasn’t at all sure where we were going, but I knew it was inland. Inland is hot! On Saturday night I had done some research and apparently Todra Gorge is a big hit with rock climbers. I have been climbing mountains since I was eighteen but I find rock climbing to be nuts. I mean you can’t see anything except the sheer rock wall in front of your face, your fingers are digging into the rockface, and it looks too easy to fall off, but then again Q has some choice words about climbing mountains.
“I don’t get it Mom. You struggle up to 26,000 feet or more, you can’t breathe, your feet are killing you, you have to haul your air up with you on your back, and when you get to the top you’re too exhausted to enjoy the view! Now exactly which part of that is fun for you Mom?

The car pulled up precisely at eight, a good beginning because after my bold acceptance I was still a bit nervous about getting into a airplane with some chap I didn’t know, lovely manners not withstanding. The driver spoke no English but I got the message – we were headed for the airport to meet Hassan who was doing a preflight on the plane. The car was blessedly cool. It was the beginning of a day where I was wrapped in a soft cocoon of foreign languages I don’t speak. I love the sound of Darjia. It has some of the bur-r-r- sounds of the Scottish highlander’s brogue and a soft blanket sound of Sanskrit. French is, well French is fabulous isn’t it? French sounds like Paris, champagne, and romance.

It took about half an hour to the airport where the car drove onto the tarmac which already smelled of heat, and delivered me to the Citation Ultra, which was ready for take off. I know it was a Citation Ultra because Hassan told me, I thought it just looked like a posh little jet! (see photographs to the right)

I didn’t take a camera because I didn’t want to look like oh-my-gods-I-never-get-out-so-I-have-to-have-photographs-of-everything idiot. Last night I went online and found the photographs for you so you would have an idea where we went – my bit for Moroccan tourism.

The flight was uneventful, as I couldn’t see much. Hassan said we would be flying IFR all the way. The air is murky in Morocco. I asked why, and he said "It seems to be a mixture of smog, (lots of old cars), dust from the Sahara and then moisture from the ocean. Even in town you can't see very far. From 3000 feet you can't see the ground." The scenery might not have been much but the plane was very plush with a couch, bar, kitchen set-up, and a bathroom with a full-length mirror! And blessedly frigid air conditioning! The seats were leather with silk cushions for your head. It was all done up in shades of beige, gold, and brown.

We sat down outside The Valley of the Kasbahs at Quarzazate airport where a driver and a 4X4 awaited our arrival. We had brunch at the Berbere Palace Hotel before heading for the Gorge. The hotel looks out over the surrounding countryside and there is a beautiful dinning room decorated in the style of Berber-does-Hollywood, but it works. Brilliant bathrooms. I am a sucker for a lovely bathroom.

After brunch we drove about an hour or less to the Todra Gorge but I was not so slowly melting in the hot sun, which was being reflected back from the sand and rock in waves. Thank goodness for the wind blowing over us as we drove, stopping was not so pleasant.
At Tineghir we took a 20 Km side-trip through the Todra River valley road through green ribbons of palm and olive groves. I saw pomegranate trees like the ones Q and I saw in Fez, and patchworks of tiny crop fields. There were about a dozen pink-grey villages before we entered the mouth of the Todra Gorge. At one point we had to stop and wait while a chap and his young son herded camels across the highway. We saw a lot of sheep and goats all along the way.

The canyon is 1,000 ft high where the river has cut through pink and green walls of rock limestone. Hassan said this is part of the High Atlas. I thought there were a lot of birds in Fez; this place is an aviary full of hunting birds and nesters in the canyon walls. You can hear birdsong all throughout the gorge. Unless you are going to climb, a 4 x 4 vehicle is essential.

About half way through you come around the turn, splash through the riverbed, and there sits several little houses and a hotel. I put a photograph for you. Apparently some people, tourists and climbers, like to stay over so they can walk the gorge at night. I don’t think so, thank you anyway, but I can see the appeal. Hassan said at night the canyon has its own climate. Apparently he IS a rock climber and spent a good bit of time here when he was younger. That could explain why when we got out to walk a bit he was as sure footed as a mountain goat of which we saw many. I on the other hand managed to stumble, fall over a bolder and bang my head on the side of the canyon and get a mouthful of sand. Graceful eh?

“Are you hurt? Are you bleeding?” he asked anxiously as he came up to me sprawled on the path like an awkward grasshopper.

My head certainly hurt enough to be bleeding. I mean really if you have that much pain you should get blood.

“Here let me check that,” as he ran his fingers over my head while I sat on the rock trying to recover my composure.

“This is not what I envisioned when I thought of you running your fingers through my hair you know,” I said.

“No? You’re not bleeding but you have a hell of a bump there and your sense of humor seems to be intact.” He has a smile like the sun coming up I swear it and smells like a cold day in Bath.

“Great. I’ll hang an earring on it and call it a third ear shall I?”

The sun only bathes the bottom of the gorge in the mornings. There is an ice-cold river that runs through, but even in the gorge the heat was impressive. We stayed about an hour or so. We had to return to the Rabat airport before 6:30 pm or they won’t let you land, they send you to Casablanca.

The best time for visiting the gorge is between is between 8.00 and 13.00, as the angle of the sun in the afternoons passes over and out of sight said the nice man at the hotel in the gorge where we had tea. The nice man who is a Moroccan and thinks you might MISS the sun.

Now this puts us at right over 1000 words which is where I try to keep the posting and the poll agreed.

As the forecast for today was 95 degrees, I intended to do my banking, pay the rent, and then be VERY STILL during the day, which I did. I made the foolish mistake of going to the roof to water the plants while the sun was still up and I thought I would burst into flame. It is going DOWN to 31 degrees C tomorrow (87 degrees F). Here I sit now in the coolness of the ocean breeze looking down on the river from the roof/terrace with Rabat spread out and sparkling to my right, thinking of all of you. Wherever you are be ready, you never know when adventure will come knocking – answer the door!

Q called to say she is having a fabulous time at the Music Festival in Fez, and to ask after M.C. Solaar – who is looking very fuzzy and growing by leaps and bounds. He does a lot of leaping and bounding actually.

Tomorrow I shall tell you about lunch and the return to Rabat shall I?

20 comments:

A Bishops wife said...

Is all this real? Stupid question?
It would all be fantasy to me.

I Beatrice said...

That was a wonderful piece of descriptive writing! I lived every word of it, and the photos are thrilling too...

But a still small voice inside me will keep whispering ... where were Hassan's teeth today? And where the edge-of-danger aspect and the spicy bits?

Some people are just never satisfied, are they?

debio said...

C'mon, lady m, the falling at his feet - whoops I mean, falling over was a bit contrived, eh?

What a brilliant day - can't wait for the luncheon disclosures.....

lady macleod said...

a bishops wife

pretty real yes. the fantasy part I fear is that he was here then gone (sigh). thank you for coming by.


i beatrice

please, you saucy wench hold in mind HIS SON reads my blog. for the edge-of-danger and spicy bits I can tell you about my trip to Paris a couple of years ago..now there was some spice!
Thank you for coming by, glad you liked the story in spite of the "shortcomings":-)


debio

'falling at his feet', you betcha'! but the fall on the path was horrendous and clumsy, I still have a bump on my head. It was a brilliant day. I think I can live on this for a while...
thank you for coming by.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I think I can live on this story for a while and it didn't even happen to me. Must tell us more.

Omega Mum said...

Are you in love yet?
I am horribly disappointed that he has not yet presented you with the keys to the jet and a ring. PS Could you involve Debio's helicopter pilot skills at some point?
Real or not, I love it.

Kaycie said...

How wonderful! Charming, lovely teeth and a gentleman. What more can you ask for?

I can hardly wait to hear about lunch!

lady macleod said...

WUASTC

Thank you dear. I'm am glad you are enjoying the telling. Thank you for coming by.


omega mum

That's just a bit fast don't you think? You are as bad as Q!
thank you for coming by.


kaycle

Nothing more to ask for really.
thank you for coming by.

jenny said...

Who needs Harlequin romance novels when I have Lady M??? Fantastic descriptions, and I am just tapping my feet in frustration, waiting for the next installment!

Did you REALLY say that? About Hassan running his fingers through your hair? There must have been some electricity generated between you two? And I am not talking static!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Ooo, it looks and sounds lovely, it gave me itchy feet. I've only done a bit of climbing, but would love to hang off some of those rocks. The point of climbing is the adrenaline rush as you get to the top.
Do you really climb serious mountains that require oxygen? Wow.

lady macleod said...

jenny

Thank you dear. yes I did say it! You know how normally you think of just the right thing to say AFTER the elevator doors close? This time I made it.
Thank you for coming by.


piggy,

yes I have climbed some serious rock piles in my time. I took my last big climb a few years ago in the Himalayas for my 50th birthday. I don't go over 18 or 20,000 feet anymore, my knees are shot.
Thank you for coming by.

elleeseymour said...

I remember visiting Fez once, I remember the strong colours and the intense dyes for sale in the market. I loved the mint tea. I remember being chased by street sellers and snake charmers, but this is your story....

lady macleod said...

elleeseymour

That's a fair description I'd say, but the snake charmers and chasing goes on more in Marakesh these days. When were you in Fez?
Thank you for coming by.

Drunk Mummy said...

Can't wait for Part Three - this is a great mini-series!

lady macleod said...

drunk mummy

Thank you dear, and thank you for coming by.

Rebecca said...

what a story!! Can't believe that he found you through your blog.

jennifer said...

Oh- I love a story like this. You just started my day out right. Beautiful writing. I'm putting you on my blogroll.

Brillig said...

Oh, don't you dare let the little fact that they're all reading this keep you from delivering all the juicy details!!! Must. Know. More.

(LOVING this, by the way...)

lady macleod said...

rebecca

I know scary eh? thank you for coming by.


jennifer

thank you for the kind words and the addition to your blogroll, that is kind. Thank you for coming by.


brillig

most of it darling, MOST of it...
thank you for coming by.

KarenO said...

Being infatuated is a much safer description than using the L word.

PS: Forget the book, just start writing the screenplay straight away!