With my friend and co-traveler, Mokhtar, a native-born Moroccan and a tour operator, I am able to see things not every tourist gets to see. “Off-, off-road” we call it. He knows every nook and cranny of this country. And likely knows at least one or two people at every place we visit! Not an exaggeration. We were flagged through by a policeman the other day (I always give a breath of relief because you never know with the police over here) but suddenly an excited Mokhtar veered onto the shoulder where we were met at the car by the very policeman. Mokhtar jumped happily out of the car and the two embraced and kissed the four time-cheek kiss: the kiss indicating the two have not seen each other for a very long time (otherwise, a two time-cheek kiss would suffice). An old friend from his village, the two haven’t seen each other for at least 10 years. Another time we were in the middle of seeming nowhere and there’s Mokhtar sitting with his friend from his village. So we all sat for a fresh-squeezed orange juice. It happens every day. Even in these remote areas. It’s a small world, but it’s even smaller here in Morocco.
But that’s a digression. The point of this post is that we take the less-traveled roads on this trip. We discover areas that are new to both of us and that makes it all the more fun! The other day we took a day trip from Essaouira down the coast a bit so Mokhtar could show me some areas he had lived many years ago. We were on a narrow strip of tarred road barely big enough for one car. It went through some of the most spectacular countryside with the ocean visible at the tops of the trees and hills. Amazing beauty and unspoiled coastline! Miles and miles of it. Breathtaking.
And all of a sudden, we came upon herds of goats milling through the argan trees – – and climbing them! And what noise they make! They practically inhale the argan nut from the tree and are able to climb to the very tops of the trees in order to do so! It’s amazing! The sound was really quite something. And all of sudden, there’s a camel! It seemed more like a giraffe, though, the way it reached up into the tree and compared to the goats at its feet, it was a giant. We squealed to a stop and both grabbed our cameras and took video and photos for the next 30 minutes. Prior to this I’ve only seen the staged-for-tourist goats in trees, not these honest to goodness climbers.
Rarely do tourists see this kind of thing on a run-of-the-mill tour. It takes a special guide and unique circumstances to find yourself in these spots!