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The High Atlas Mountains

March 17

Breakfast at our hotel, looking out at the High Atlas mountains.

Here are a few photos to give you only a very small taste of our fabulous hotel.

The ceiling of our room

The rubber ducky with fez on, perched on the side of our tiled bathtub/shower.

View of the pool and mountains from the balcony of our room.

Small pool near our room,

Today, we explore the High Atlas Mountains. A little bit. We let our guide, Jaouad (pronounced as if it rhymed with “road”), know that we are not going to be summiting any peaks. Jaouad takes our instructions to heart and proceeds at a very leisurely, okay, really slow, pace.

Jaouad is one of the best Mountain guides in the High Atlas Mountains, born there and graduated from the guiding school in Tabant, Azilal, which was the first guiding school in the whole of Africa. He also has a BA in English literature from Al Qadi University. His knowledge and enthusiasm make him a real ambassador for the High Atlas region. He loves to share all the information, history and lifestyle of Berbers.

We start at the village of Imlil, one of the larger villages in the mountains. There are many others hiking, ranging from serious hikers who will take six hours to summit, to folks who ride up on donkeys (who, of course, we look down upon) to young girls using selfie sticks to capture themselves with the mountains in the background.

I would describe my hiking at this point as very slow uphill with frequent stops to catch a breath and nervous on rocky downhills, readily accepting Jaouad’s offer of a hand for help. This likely means that hiking the Inca Trail in Peru is not in my future. But I can live with that. Carol is better, and I accept, and resent her for, that. I guess my hiking prowess is consistent with my preference for taking moving walkways at airports. Alas, no such moving walkways exist in the High Atlases.

The several-hour walk is really very pleasant, the weather and views good. Jaouad describes the dramatic impact that tourism has had on the region and its culture. He accepts all of that, but clearly does not love it. He points out all of the different kinds of trees and plants as we walk.

We stop at a rug store and look at rugs. While there are a few we like, we feel that we did enough rug buying in Fes. We’d actually made the choice to go with a more established and upscale places for rugs and ceramics, instead of opting for funkier individual places, as we certainly would have done fifty-one years ago. A part of me is a bit sad at this realization.

Here are a few sights from along the way.

At around one we stop for lunch on the rooftop of a small hotel. When we finish, Jaouad asks whether we’d like to walk to more villages, but we demure. I offer to have Carol walk on and have our driver take me back to the hotel, but she says that she’s had enough walking. We return to the hotel, pick up a few small gifts in the lovely hotel gift shop and go up to the room, to read, blog, nap and start packing.

We have a half bottle of white wine (free, from our minibar) on our balcony, as the sun sets. Then, we walk the fifty or so feet from our room to the restaurant, where we have a very tasty dinner.

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