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Embedded Photos: 1.Ait Benhaddou2.Stork Nest3-4.Ait Benhaddou
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Morocco Flag MOROCCO


May 15. SKOURA - AIT BENHADDOU  Our time at Ben Moro had been a nice break from the stress of travel in Morocco.  The guy at the front desk offered to drive us to town to grab a shared taxi.  He was watching TVAit Benhaddou, Morocco is his nearby house with his family, waiting for the results of the decision on where the next World Cup would be held.  Egypt was out and it was down to Morocco and South Africa.  We sat down with him and waited but the vote went to South Africa.  They were very disappointed but said they suspected it was going to South Africa because Nelson Mandela was there.  When we loaded our things in the truck to leave a small boy came out of the house and begin spilling into tears, kneeling on the steps outside the front door.  Our driver smiled and said it was his nephew and they he often took him in the car when had to run errands.  The little boy, not more than three, was putting on the dramatic display to elicit sympathy from his uncle.  It worked.  He gestured to the little boy that he could come which brought a quick end to the tears as the boy began to crawl down the steps sniffling.  A woman emerged from the house laughing and picked the boy up and passed him through the window to his uncle.   The boy sat on his uncle's lap, delighted to be going for a ride.  It turned out to be a really short ride.   Before we had even reached Skoura we spotted a taxi going towards Ouarzazate and we were transferred over to the taxi.

Ouarzazate was our transfer point to reach the famous Ait Benhaddou, a large kasbah used twenty movies, including Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia.  We were in the back of the shared taxi this time which made it much more comfortable Ait Benhaddou, Moroccothat our ride from the border on the day we arrived.  The negotiations for rides was always entertaining.  It appeared that a young man in the front seat was related to the driver but when two other passengers needed rides the guy was dumped out on the side of the road to make room. I guess he got to go as long as there were no other paying customers.  Tough luck.  We weren't sure where he was expected to go from there.  

We were dropped at the bus station in Ouarzazate where a parking lot of shared taxis was pooled up.  Each had a different destination so we searched for a guy going to Ait Benhaddou.  The taxi we found was empty and the driver immediately tried to scam us on a price for the whole car but we spotted a couple of young foreign women across the parking lot and it turned out they also wanted to go Ait Benhaddou.  Even with four of us the driver tried to overcharge us.  He agreed that the price for a six person taxi was 30 per person so we offered to pay six times that price.  Somehow he figured we should pay more so we sent him off to play with his calculator.  He returned and took our offer.  Ait Benhaddou, Morocco

The two young women turned out to be from Lithuania and we couldn't stop talking about how much we loved the place.  The ride to Ait Benhaddou went quickly.  When we arrived we sat in a cafe and talked over our plans.  Aura and Zydre were debating on whether or not to stay the night.  We planned one night and then would move on to Marrakesh.  They finally decided to stay as well and we all found a hotel together.  

It was still early enough in the day to visit the kasbah which looked more like a fortified city of kasbahs when compared to the others we had seen.  The scale of the complex as it stretched up to the hilltop across the river was impressive but the individual structures within were not actually as big as Kasbah Amridil.  The guidebook touted it as the best preserved kasbah in Morocco but it was just the structures in front that had benefited from restoration.  Much of the rest was in a deteriorating state.  And there was a steady number of touts in the area, both inside and outside the kasbah.  Even as we went to cross the sandbag steps over the river we had a guy try to lure us into his house for a tour.  Inside there were souvenir stands tucked away in different corners that sadly detracted from the atmosphere of the place.  Since it was now under UNESCO protection we were disappointed in the over-commercialization.  Still it was a nice place to wander around and the view from the top of the hill was worth the entrance fee alone.  We sat there for a long stretch as we waited for the influx of tour groups to wane.  Aura and Zydre went off on their own tour of the place and we eventually lost track of them.  Ait Benhaddou, MoroccoThey ended up staying to look around much longer than us and we didn't catch up with them again until we were back at the hotel. 

Dinner at our hotel was pretty good but our meal was interrupted by the waiter who invited himself to sit down and smoke while we ate.  Aura and Zydre were quite into all of the Moroccan negotiation tactics but after two weeks we were reaching our limit on the insincere BS.  The waiter had taken turns sitting at the other tables but found his fishing rewarded at our table when he learned that we needed a taxi for the following morning.  There was some discussion about  the cost of a taxi, all of which were much too high, naturally.  But the waiter really let down his cover when Rob asked about Berber carpets.  He was really interested in the ones produced by the nomadic peoples but once the subject was raised the waiter persisted in trying to get us to go to a nearby carpet shop.  It wasn't at all what we were interested in and he just refused to get it. All in all we found his presence truly annoying so we eventually left Aura and Zydre to chat with him while we went to bed.  The were much better at keep themselves entertained by the guy. 

SPAIN Madrid Mar 23 Mar 24 Mar 25-26 Mar 27-30 Granada Mar 31 April 1-28 Semana Santa Part I Part II Photos I Photos II Photos III Photos IV The Alhambra Part I Part II Part III Part IV


MOROCCO Chefchaouen April 30 May 1 Fes May 2 May 3 May 4 May 5 May 6 Meknes May 7 May 8 May 9 Sahara May 10-11 May 12 May 13-14 May 15 Marrakesh May 16