Riad Massin ~ Atlas Mountains ~ Jardin Majorelle ~ Souks
21.10.2008 - 24.10.2008 0 °F
We arrived around 8pm and were dropped off infront a local restaurant full of people watching one single TV. Immediatly intrigued by our surroundings, we unloaded our bags from the 1985 mercedes diesel. I'm sure we looked like circus clowns to the locals... 5 girls spilling out of the car, several bags (sorry, I can vouch for that) and our main acessory, the American accent. Trying not to cause any attention to ourselves we organized our bags and were greeted by a man from our hostel, Yusuff the Riad Massin. Our future best friend, Yusif, led us through narrow, 3 story, moroccan style building corridors to our destination. A little castle/munchkin-like door was where we were brought to; as the door was answered, the last few glances to eachother were those of hesitation. I think we all stopped holding our breath once the door was answered by a woman in traditional moroccan style robes, and a genuine smile.
The hospitality was absolutly wonderful. Upon our arrival, we were presented their traditional Mint Tea (Moroccan Wisky). The presentation of the mint tea is a large part of their culture, it may have been the best ethnic welcoming I've had. There's a specific process to make the tea which entails serveral steps of adding the sugar, tea and mint. They consider it an art form which is fixed and proured a specific way. Really interesting to watch, and the taste wasn't bad at all... minty tea with a ton of sugar, I'll take two please.
After spending our first night at the Riad, we arranged to take a day trip to the Atlas Mountains. What we really wanted to do was take the 3 day excursion to the desert; with camels, sights, camping and 4x4's... but 3 days there limited us, and let's not complain, we are in Morocco. A beautiful view of the valleys consumed our attention on the way to the mountains, along with people riding donkeys, as often as cars on the road.
Our first stop was a family's house half way up the mountain. The house overlooked a valley where you could see a few small cities in the distance. The family was wonderful, extremely welcoming and generous. They had a 1 person "sauna", cows in their living room and 3 balconys. The women showed us how bread was cooked over an open fire and served us authentic honey, butter and olive oil. All three tasted very different from what I've had before... probably beacuse theirs no chemicals, pesticides, preservatives. Shocking on what food should really taste like. The family seemed to be close to Yusiff, our guide/parent for the week. He brings people there and they share their house and lifestyle with tourists. I thought it was perfect, how much closer can you get to authentic moroccan life? Exactly what I wanted to see.
... What we've all been waiting for... the camels. After we thanked the family for their hospitality, we we're off to our next adventure. The party bus pulled off the side of the mountain road and there sat about 6 camels... and a baby one! No way, we we're all so pumped... 1 - Seeing a Camel, 2 - Seeing a BABY Camel. It was great. The camels marinate on the ground with their legs tucked underneath until it's time to go for a stroll. They were so sweet and never once did I see one spit! We took a little mountain ride on them, sat and basked in the sun, in all our glory. No complaints here.
About 45 minutes up the mountain, we stopped and began our trek to the waterfall. It was about an hour hike to the top, only stopping for pictures and a few leaps over/in some streams. At some points throughout the climb, the path was so narrow that if you took a wrong step, the adventure could have quickly turned into base jumping rather then a hike.
We crossed paths with two Moroccan woman who had an enormous amount of mint leaves being carried on their backs. She said something to me as I was hiking up, I couldn't understand, but she had a smile on her face and seemed friendly. I had my camera in hand and held it up, gesturing for a picture?... our friendly relationship, only seconds old, was quickly terminated. She started yelling god knows what, at me, which I translated into "Don't take my picture you stupid American tourist bitch." Before I was pushed off the side of the Atlas'.. I put my camera away and somehow motioned "I'm Sorry"... is there a universal sign for "I'm Sorry"?. I need to find out before I have any more foreign encounters.
We reached the waterfall and it really was amazing... before you could see it, you could hear it. To stop, look around, and realize where I was.. was wierd. Knowing that you are standing on the top of the Atlas Mountains under a waterfall, with only mountains in view. I mean, if someone wants to go and find themselves, this would be the place to do it.