Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

What can I say, I’m 50 and feel much younger. I love photography although not obsessed, and I try to take life not too seriously : )

Part 10 - Er foud to Marrakech (600km, and over the High Atlas again!)

After the highs of Erg Chebbi, dread filled my stomach. I forced down what was yesterday a delightful breakfast and contemplated at least the next twelve hours.

Er Foud behind us we travelled on. The sun, which we had so recently see disappear the day before which such beauty, exploded over the horizon adding to our perceived worries about such a journey. Eyes, now narrow slits, raise my cheeks up giving me a permanent grimace as I try to reduce the intense searing light entering the car as we drive along.

Journeys through the villages become a parade as we are watched by everyone waiting patiently for buses or a distraction in a market. The speed limit is not on our side creeping along a snail possibly going faster. I feel that I represent so much, I am a woman driving, no husband apparent, with a male teenager, a westerner. I must show myself to all in a perfect light, drive without error, conduct myself with no error ensure my son is strong and respected reflecting on me and to show no arrogance. We smile, we drive and we find the open relaxation of the main artery road running across the flesh of a rocky plain. The journey seems faster today, we soon reach our key points, Todra Gorge is hailed and passed with happy memories and we continue on. The ribbon of road is now adorned with more villages, we observe celebrations; crowds of men in white and then shortly crowds of women. We continue on.

Hazy quivering heat waves distract the tired eye as it tries to make sense ahead. A combination of open plateau to one side and rocky spines to another have accompanied us since Todra Gorge, the rocky shelf goes and ahead the mirror mercurial gleam of a lake in haze is apparent, , Ouarzazate welcomes us with the ever present mega petrol station but the beauty of Ouarzazate is in its centre, the terracotta vastness of its Kasbah. The beauty for us is a known hotel where we rush into the welcoming air conditioned chilled luxury, my eyes now resting in the dark shadows protecting us and a variety of chilled drinks welcomed down my throat.

All too soon we must head off to face the fear of the ATM’s yet again, again we try almost for luck another bank and yet again not success only succeeding at the BMCE again. We head off tank and wallet full. A journey already trekked can be boring however new visions kept arising as we travelled on, why I do not know. Were we tired when we came, were our eyes not open, our journey coming over the High Atlas was certainly memorable – so beautiful. Our journey had new light and shadows and we also had a new time limit. As we journey back no stopping for photos this time, no stopping for juice, no stopping…….

Red shoots to the side of the road signals that we are in what would be the snowline, no snow but a definite chill which keeps us moving, finally the engine tone has changed and no longer are we climbing behind ever slowing lorries. The vista ahead concentrates the mind, sheer edge after sheer edge and hairpin after hairpin bend. The shadows increasing all the time, the sun lowering in the sky ensures that I know I need to move on but wide and ever wider lorries test me, I attempt and succeed passing one then another feeling the rally driver in me release. The red snow guides disappear as does my red mist. The roads widen and flatten rapidly heading towards Marrakech.

Each section of our journey had been our only focus, now, within 20km I realise that the new challenge was our greatest. Unknown Marrakech on a Friday evening rush hour and worse, to find a tiny Riad in the middle of this vast heaving mêlée.

Journal Comments

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