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O Fim duma Viagem

I Miss the Mountains

MOROCCO | Thursday, 24 July 2014 | Views [417]

 On Saturday morning, we got up for breakfast at 8:30. They brought out orange juice and coffee and Moroccan tea. If it weren't for the orange juice and tea, the fly in the coffee would have been even more upsetting than it was. They also had a variety of breads, as well as butter, honey, jam, and dried olives to put on the bread.

While we were eating, a couple of cats came by and looked at us for food. They did not like bread, though the birds did. (I got to see a small brown bird fly away with a piece of bread that was probably half its size.) They were pretty cute, though one of them was painfully thin and one of them had a nasty bite on its arm.

 We had the front desk call us a taxi, and also tell us how much it would be. (400 round-trip, including the taxi driver waiting there for us to finish.) And then we got into the taxi and drove.

After we'd been driving for a bit, the smell of weed drifted into the taxi. “Does anyone else smell that?” Erika asked. Yes. All of us. “Good, it's not just me. I can't figure out where it's coming from, though.” Like Mohammed said, there's just a cloud hanging over the city.

Before I get into the actual hiking part, I feel the need to mention two things: 1. I had a messenger bag with me. 2. I realize that a messenger bag is a stupid thing to bring on a hike. But it was the only bag I had. Natasha and Cynthia had backpacks, but they were already carrying 3 liters of water. (As a rough estimate, we'd each asked for a bottle of water, and she'd thrown an extra bottle of ice in with that.) It didn't seem like they'd take too kindly to being asked to carry a 600+ page book as well. (Windup Bird Chronicle. Side note: reading a book where location is important and well described is really disorienting if the setting isn''t Morocco.)

So we got in the taxi and drove for an hour. The taxi was pretty regular-sized, so the four of us were pretty squeezed together in the back. But I was grateful to be able to read my book instead of spending the entire hour staring into space.

We got out, paid the taxi driver for the first leg of our journey, and were immediately surrounded by people asking if we wanted a guide. One showed us pictures in a book of the big waterfall, and the small waterfall, and asked which one we wanted to go to, and then offered to take us there. We said no and immediately faced the question of which of two routes we should take. He said if we wanted to go to the smaller waterfall (one hour hike as opposed to three) we should go to the right.

A few minutes later, we were wondering if he'd lied to us out of spite or to prove a point. There didn't appear to be anyone else on our route (we could see people across a stream) and the path narrowed considerably and went up. We paused, took pictures, and another Moroccan appeared and asked us about where we were headed. Then he started leading us there. We couldn't have done it without him.

He told us that the path went “through water.” I was assuming this meant I would get my feet wet. It did, though we stepped through water that was deep enough to soak almost my entire pants. Needless to say, navigating those areas with a messenger bag was a challenge. “I can't let it get wet. But I need to have a hand free to be able to grab things so I don't slip. What to do?” (Actually, it's not that much of a dilemma. Use your non-dominant hand to grab the straps and pull it up and your dominant hand is still free for the tricky not-falling parts.)

I think I had the closest to anything approaching hiking shoes. Which makes a fair amount of sense, given my primary method of choosing shoes. (“Would these be comfortable if I needed to walk for several hours in them?” is the first step in the flow chart of shoe buying. Any “no” leads immediately to the “set down the shoes and try to find another pair.”) They also had a fair amount of traction. Which is the only thing that stopped me from falling dramatically more than other people.

I still fell a few times, but it was more strategic falling. Like, “I feel myself losing my balance. There's a nice rock that I'm going to put down my hand on. Now I can pretend I'm just temporarily shifting my weight to the rock instead of losing my balance. Yay!” The messenger bag threw off my center of gravity, but if I kept it pointed the opposite side of the stream I could use that to my advantage. If I did trip like a complete idiot, the messenger bag could have been the only thing that kept me from going into the water!

It was heavy and inconvenient and I kept encouraging people to drink water so that it would become lighter. It didn't work because, as a consequent of walking through pretty cold water, there was no point on that hike where I went “I'm so hot, I just want to coold down with an ice-cold bottle of water. Ah, that's so much better.” Which was overall good. There was never a point where I was hot. There were times (like right after we re-immersed ourselves in water) that I was even pretty cold. Given the high in Chefchouen was 90, that was a good thing. Didn't always feel like it, though.

Of course, the hike was beautiful.

Auto Awesome: Why I trust Google with my Life

The hardest part was, without question, when we needed to get on a little ledge and shuffle our feet along while keeping a good grip on the rocks. We relayed the specific rocks that we were supposed to grab before moving on to follow the insructions we'd just beeen giving. Messing up would have made you fall into the river below. Not fun.

But still beautiful.

This photo was deemed good enough as is

I forget why, but Natasha mentioned something about Mulan. So for the rest of the hike there, I had “I'll Make a Man Out of You” stuck in my head. I think multiple other people did as well, since they mentioned it later.

 We made it to an arch, where we needed to leave behind everything that couldn't get completely soaked. I included myself in that category. The others went ahead and swam for a while. I sat, read, stopped a mat from blowing away, and admired the view.

The view I came to see 

When they came back and we all had cookies (Cynthia, Natasha, and I had all had the identical thought of “I should bring my cookies with.” I wonder if they'd also had the additional thought of “I be the others won't,” or if that was just my misguided assumption.) Then we set back.

The route back was slightly easier. None of that ledge-mountain-climbing of the way over. There were a few sketchy logs that served as bridges, but as long as you watched where your feet were without thinking too much about how little they were standing on, it was fine.

 My body was much more tired on the way back, and it showed. My balance was even more off than it was on the way out, and I stumbled a few times when my ankle decided it wanted to be at a ninety degree angle (clearly the less tiring way is to put your weight on the side of the foot.) My shoes also seemed to have less traction than before, though that could have been my imagination. 

While my socks shoes hadn't exactly had time to dry while I was reading, they'd had time to get a little less wet. They were very uncomfortable to put back on, but I got used to it, and my shoes were already pretty soaked, so at least stepping through small puddles shouldn't have been too much of an issue, right? Walking through the first cold stream on our way back was nearly as bad as the way out.

It was still pretty, though.

 Mountains and sky. Blue blue sky.

Once we were back by the taxis, we asked Mustapha (our guide) how much we should pay him. He said it was basically up to us, whatever we wanted to pay, but gave rough guidelines. “200. 250. 300 if you want,” with a hopeful smile. (We paid him 200.) Then we found our taxi again (he recognized us. We didn't recognize our driver) and drove back to the auberge and away from the pretty, if strenuous, hike.

Gorgeous water. Much less pretty when you're walking through it, though.

Tags: books, flowers, hiking, mountains, rocks, streams, waterfall

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