Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Morocco Day 2. Marracech - Imlil

Semi early start and breakfast at Riad Jona, then we realised there were still a couple of provisions that we needed to take to the mountain later in the day - binoculars and flares. Yet again we asked Mohamed at Riad Jona and straight away he was directing us to a Firearms shop in Gueliz (new town Marrakech), we jumped in a ‘petite’ cab and headed out. When we arrived the place was closed so the drive asked some locals for other options. We were directed to another hunting shop, open this time, so we popped in to ask for flares? This was met by bemusement as he could not figure out what two white English speaking dudes wanted flares for in Marrakesh. No joy. We then popped next door to an opticians who had some Binos but the prices were to high for the limited applications we would give them.

Then we chose to head north of the main square on foot from new town to visit the many Souks (trading areas) to explore and purchase. Hunger struck by this point and we sat down for some regular local grub without realising that time was ticking by a little quicker than we had noticed, oops. It was now a case of speed marching 2km through souks, Main Square and down streets to Riad Jona where we were being picked up by Riad Oussagou (Imlil, Atlas mountains) staff to remove us from this mêlée.

It would appear that the Moroccan's have worked it out!

Traffic melee

We were already packed so upon return we just need to checkout, pay and leave. There was a couple of complications which took a while to sort but it was all good and the guys from Riad Oussagou were very patient. Ayway, sorted and very pleased with Riad Jona which is where I (Brad) am spending another three nights next week when Jase flies home and I stay on.
We now set off to the vehicle with the guys from Imlil who were kind enough to wheel our bike boxes as we carried our substantial baggage through the streets  for about 1km before getting on board a huge nine seater mpv and heading south east to the Toubkal mountains.
The guys are Berber from rural Morocco and very genuine good will types. This became very apparent when on-route they noticed a minibus broken down that was being driven by another Berber they knew, so they chatted to him and Jase and I chatted to the passengers who were on the final stage of there duke of Edinburgh Gold award which consisted of a seven day hike around the Atlas range. They were stuck so we with our nine seater gave assistance to help these boys finish their accolade and dropped them on-route at Asni. Alongside this slight inconvenience, we were also blocked in a mountain pass due to work being done to clean up rocks strewn over road during landslide.

 Cleaning up after a landslide
 Huts by the river on the way to Imlil

The day was testing but as we approached and viewed the mountains it was all soon forgotten. From the road into Imlil, we had our first glimpse of Jebel Toubkal and the surrounding peaks. These mountains are BIG! The red/sand coloured mountains rise dramatically from the surrounding dry lands with steep slopes creating narrow valleys.
We arrived at Riad Oussagou and were shown to room by the friendly staff that had noticed the bike boxes and may have been even more eager to get them out and built as we were.

Unpacking - gear explosion....

Bikes built, chilling.

We built them shortly after settling in and gave these dream machines a good once over.
Dinner was an absolutely yummy chicken tagine, cooked by Abdul. We ate with an English couple that were hiking over here and the chat was great so we agreed to a game of monopoly! I would have won if we’d finished J then bed.

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