I love mountains. My wife prefers sea level. For one day, I got my way. Well, she probably just objected to that dumb statement. Let us just say I wanted to go into the Atlas mountains, and we did.
I wanted to see where the Berbers settled. I wanted to see what was left of Berber culture before it is gone. I got my wish.
I think this may have been my favorite day in totally wonderful Morocco.
Since somewhere around the year 700, give or take, the Berbers have been of the Moslem faith. Hence the dress. However, they use a lot more color than the Gulf Arabs!
These are two shots are of Berber villages as we progressed higher and higher into the mountains. Of course the minarets of the mosques are predominate. The call to prayer here, as everywhere these days, is broadcast by speakers. We hear the call to prayer five times a day here in the UAE. It was very different for two reasons in the High Atlas. First, it is done in the Berber language, not Arabic. Second, it echoes off the mountains surrounding the villages.
We were invited into this home. The woman made us Berber bread, in the Berber way. You can see she puts the dough in on the inside of the pre-heated oven. If you need to know, they burn Oak. You cannot even buy this bread in a nearby city. It is intended just for local consumption. It is an age-old tradition. It is damn good bread and I consider myself lucky to partake. This is a big reason why I travel.
At 4,167 metres (13,671 ft), it is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains and in North Africa. I asked our guide, who grew up in one the villages we passed by, if he had ever climbed it. He was nice enough (and interested in his tip enough) to not say something like “What do you think,bozo”. It turns out he first climbed it when he was twelve years old, and averages 15 ascents per year. In the summer it is just a steep hike, of two days, return. In the winter it becomes a technical climb. He prefers the winter. He is one of the local guides you can hire. There is an entire industry built around people who want to summit the highest mountain in North Africa, close to 500 people do it a year.
We were supposed to walk from here to the highest village in the Atlas mountains called the village of Aroumd. There we would have lunch. Our sturdy vibrant mountain guide took one look at me and said “or we could drive”. We drove.
After what turned out be a long time in a 4wd vehicle on a sketchy road we arrived at this sign pointing us to the restaurant.
Filled with wonderful experiences, views and food, it was time for us to say farewell to the mountains of Morocco.
I always hope my blog encourages others to follow the path I have so valiantly blazed for you. If you get to Morocco, do the High Atlas!
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