Heading north

Returning from my hike in the desert was a really significant point of my Moroccan trip.
After a well deserved breakfast (I’m not even speaking about how much I enjoyed the shower), I left the Sahara in my back and started to walk towards the endless blue sky.

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Even if I was leaving the desert, I was still in a very dry part of Morocco. There were few cities and no vegetation at all…
I walked a lot of kilometers along the road before I got my first ride.

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He was a very nice teacher in a school 80 km away and was returning from a day off. He left me in Erfoud, one of the last city you reach before entering the Sahara.
I met there the famous 4L trophy race that was making one of the most feared and exciting part of the course, the crossing of the desert.

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They were all coming from France with those old cars. It’s quite amazing to think that they have traveled so many miles with only 34 horse power motors. I have to say that I beat them all with that one horse ride that got me out of the city !

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Once I was out of the city, it was easy again to get rides and I met Claire & Guilhem, two French traveling with the most outstanding truck I have ever seen.

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They were not going far and wanted to see “la riviere bleue”, a beautiful oasis lost in the landscape.

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That oasis was a small breath in the dry desert.

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On top of it, an old ghost city was guarding the whole place silently.

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Standing there, hearing and looking at all life happening inside of was such a pleasure when you only face those dead horizons.

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As Guilhem and Claire were super easy going, they invited me to share the night with them.
I was mesmerized by the work of Guilhem inside his truck. He is a carpenter and used his talent to redesign his truck from scratch to this…

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It was more comfortable than any place I had slept so far in my trip. They even had a special room for their 2 dogs !

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As we started to get to know each other better, we heard someone knocking on the door. That was Toufik, a Moroccan living in a village few kilometers away. He wanted to know if we had anything to trade. He could have not chosen a worst person than me because I basically had nothing left, but my friend were interested.

As it is the custom here, he invited over to his house to have dinner with his family…

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He was living in a very modest village few kilometers away with his family. They invited us to share an amazing tajine plus teas and dates.

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None of them really spoke French but it did not stop us to share a great time. As the dinner went, Toufik offered us to show us the place tomorrow and started to make deals with us to exchange some local products (olive oil, dates, carpets…) against anything we had. We agreed to visit the city next morning and then stop by his shop and do some business.

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Graduated from a business school, I was really impressed by how Moroccan people are so skilled to bargain and make deals. My hitchhiking travel in Morocco is definitely one of the best bargaining school.

A good night of rest and a coffee later, we were ready to go upon our day.

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The nomad life has this advantage to offer you a different view everyday !

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As planned, our friend Toufik came back in the morning and showed his city. We bought for his family a couple of chickens in the village for the upcoming meals…

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The water was clear and pure. Taking a bath here was a real pleasure.

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Then we took a walk and discovered a bit more that green paradise.

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Surrounding the oasis, stood an abandoned village. There had been no more people living there for 50 years.

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It was one of the most spiritual place I have ever walked. There was a constant silence and no one at all.

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That was such a post apocalyptic landscape. It was easy to picture out how much life had once crawled in this city.

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Ok, there is still life in this village…

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In the late afternoon, Toufik showed us traditional music from this part of Morocco.

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The late tajine we had that night concluded this wonderful day in a very good way.

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I left in the morning and came back to Toufik house to thank him again. I went to have a breakfast and decided that I really had to give him something for everything he did for us. I noticed the day before that he always wanted to go hiking but he had no equipment at all.
As I ordered a new tent few weeks before, I decided that I would give him mine and sleep under the stars til I received it.

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I left him and kept hitchhiking north. As a last advice, he told me to make a small detour after Errachidia and look for the Hammat hot springs.

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This nice guy took me and dropped me at this lonely place lost in the mountain.
I would never have been able to find this place by myself. The water lying here was about 40 degrees (oh yeah, 104 Fahrenheit Scott Edelstein).

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I had to wait for one hour before going there as it’s one hour for women and then one for men…

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Being a French traveler in Morocco makes it very easy to meet people. However, being in Morocco almost naked in hot springs with some other Moroccans even create an easier contact. I met my next driver in the bath and we went together for a couple of hours.

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It was Wednesday and I had to meet my cousin next Saturday 700 km ahead. I decided to rush a bit and  spent the next 2 days on the road.

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I got several rides and crossed snowy mountains, large forests and finally made it to Moulay Idriss, (thanks to drivers below) very spiritual town of Morocco.

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I was now close to arrive to Chefchaouen and had my final Moroccan ride.

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Arriving in Chefchaouen had concluded my trip in this country. Indeed, I was just about to meet my cousin and then come back with him in Tanger.
Our meeting point was therefore in this wonderful city which is very famous for its blue houses… (and it’s super cheap haschich as it’s by the side of the Riff mountains, main hashish production site of Morocco).

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As usual, to get a better view of the place, I went hiking and managed to get at the top of the mountain surrounding the city.

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From that point, I sat and thought about the whole trip here… I could not believe how much I had seen in only a month. What a country.

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I came back for sunset and gazed hours in the endless small blue streets.

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It was the chillest place of Morocco. Every kid was playing in the streets and there was a lot of flamenco playing around (as it’s the Spanish part of Morocco).

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I thought how much I had changed since my first day. I was just so much more relaxed, positive and thankful for everything I had. After seeing how lived most of people here, there was no way I could complain about anything.

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In the morning, I finally met my Cousin Moumen. It was good to see a face I knew.

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Things had changed a lot for him too… he was now married !
Indeed, he had a girlfriend a month ago but as he wanted to live with her, he had to make it official. That’s how I have discovered his wonderful wife, Oumnia !

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She was adorable and such a great cooker too. Moumen and Oumnia hosted me so well. In only few days, I had been eating the whole Moroccan gastronomy !

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I cooked for them and went out a lot (restaurants, live concert and even nightclubs) and started to live as a small family.
In the beginning of March, I finally received my computer and smartphone and spent my last day with them in the Cap Spartel, the corner of the African coast.

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I have no words to thank them enough for everything they did for me.
(they are officially getting married in August).

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The Moroccan trip is now over. Travelling here taught me much more that all my previous travels before. Living with people with low standard of living really makes you appreciate what you have.

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Now, It’s time to come back in Gibraltar and get ready for crossing the Atlantic. I was not ready for what was about to happen… To be followed !

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6 thoughts on “Heading north

  1. Incroyable !! Vivement les prochaines photos !! En vérité je découvre un peu tout ça ce soir, je te souhaite bien du courage. Fais gaffe a toi mon vieux , j’ai hate de te revoir !

    Like

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