I was up early to the moaning tones of the call to prayer, and had thought that breakfast was at 7:00 AM, but no signs of life so I returned to my room to keep moderately warm. Plans had changed, apparently, and we were not leaving at 8:00 AM but 9:00 AM and so no breakfast until well after 8:00 AM. Which was nice, eggs done Moroccan style in a clay dish with lots of spices, nice bread, almond butter, honey, and tea. I listened to the kids in the small school ,which I could see from the balcony, start their day lined up singing what I assumed to be the National Anthem of Morocco. They sounded infinitely more in tune than the local Muezzin.
Bike and people were transported for about an hour to our start point somewhere else in the mountains, from where we cycled in what had been touted as downhill, but in reality there was still quite a bit of uphill. As we came down, it got less chilly, and the villages and the countryside became a bit more developed. Where we were last night high in the Atlas is definitely the rural and poorer end of Morocco. We aimed down the valley for a lunch stop about 2:00 PM, which was the finish of our riding today, then to be taken by transport to Oulet Berhil in the fertile valley which is between the Atlas and the Anti Atlas. It’s very agricultural, lots of oranges, almonds and argan trees from which argan oil comes. More about that tomorrow when I think we are going to see argan oil production.
The lunches en route are really fantastic, all produced by a cook who accompanies our support wagon, and all prepared from scratch with minimum equipment, but what is produced is really good. It’s never been the same, lots of ways of serving and garnishing vegetable, with some meat dish alongside, lots of different kinds of salads and rices and pulses. Really good. I’m in awe as to how he produces all this by the side of the road with only basic equipment and facilities.
Our destination in Oulet Berhil was the Hida Palais Hotel, which was an old palace now repurposed as hotel, with lovely lush and green gardens and fountains. A real oasis in an otherwise stark, bleak, and largely unkempt flat valley. I’m not complaining about the accommodations tonight.
DAY 5 - Tafraoute Rest Day
DAY 6 - Tafraoute -Agadir
DAY 7 - Agadir - Immouzer
Day 8 - Immouzer - Marrakesh
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