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Ourika Valley

Leo Notes

Atlas Notes

Cristel Notes


Spending a few days in Ouzoud can be a schizophrenic experience, or the confirmation that 'adventurous' travelers can see a region's best, provided they veer far enough from the beaten track.

Arriving in Ouzoud is frightening. After miles of quiet, typical back country winding roads one is catapulted into the gigantic parking lots built to house what seems to be hundreds of tourists buses, filled with Western and Moroccan tourists alike. Ouzoud on a Sunday afternoon feels like Wall Street on Monday morning, or the Champs Elysees on Saturday night- packed and uncannily loud.

Then, there is Ouzoud in the evening, or in the early morning, or off season during the week, when the Marrakchi tourists are still at work, and the Western ones haven't started their invasion yet. During those special times, I could see Leo's words in the region I awoke to.

During our three day stay, Jon and I ventured deep into the mountain region, up to the source of the river, and down to the water holes, the ones where locals bathe, far from the Disney pot holes reserved for tourists. We walked along the river bed, up the hills and into paradise like gardens, where each family farms fig trees, almond trees, mint, and olive trees. As we slipped through the muddy grove, we watched the 'waterer' break and rebuild water ditches, sending the precious fluids from one tree to another, making sure everyone got their rightful 'ratio' of water. For centuries, locals have been altering the river's course, taking just enough to power their mills, feed their cattle, and water their gardens.

From the hilltop of the 'Mexican Village' (a famed Berber village in the vicinity of Ouzoud), the valley of the gardens looks like Eden.

From the hilltop of the cascades, the setting sun and the water's hum cover the land with peace and calm, ironically awaiting the morrow's onslaught of tourists. An irony which everyone shares... By my third day there, I could cross the neighboring 'toll bridge' without paying the fare, a simple "Ana Meschi Tourist" (I am not a tourist) convinced the serious Serber that indeed, he could let me pass and not lose out on his daily income!

Remember that phrase... "Ana Meschi Tourist"...