Excuse the blogging hiatus last week - I was in Central Vietnam for work. When I returned to Hanoi Friday night, Pem treated me to dinner from the city's only Moroccan restaurant, Le Marrakech. With red wine, eggplant salad and couscous in my belly, I felt inspired to resume the reportage on our journey in Morocco with these photos from the High Atlas mountains...
With a roadmap and a series of cryptic directions in hand, the four of us hit the road towards Ouarzazate in a zippy Peugeot rental the morning after Harry and Sophia's wedding reception. The allure of adventure, the promise of discovery, and at the end of the road, a quiet retreat in a palmeraie
, willed us out of bed after the late night of festivities. After five hours of driving and searching for our guesthouse by following green and white arrows through sleepy villages and a dried riverbed, we reached our guesthouse, Sawadi
. We rejuvenated ourselves with a dip in the pool and a good steam in the hammam. Dinner that night was served by Said, a jolly, slightly mysterious, character who lives and works at Sawadi. When we ask him what is for dinner that night, Said answers, "Une surprise
." He says this with a small smile, as though his answer would suit any question about what was to happen in the future, no matter how near. In the end, Said offered us local red wine, homemade chocolate and verveine ice cream, and magic tricks. That night, I fell asleep to the sound of the wind whipping through the olive trees.
The next day, our grand visions of a valley bursting with blooms slowly deflated as we drove on. Did we miss the season? Were the roses green? Was the name of the valley meant to be ironic? We joked amongst ourselves as our car wound in and out, hugging the folds of the mountains. Though we didn't see a single bush laden with bright-colored blossoms, our day's outing was not lacking in spectacular views. At times, I felt as though we were on another planet. The next day we would return to Marrakech to board our northbound train, but I shall not forget my dreams from that night - hazy scenes stitched together from copper, asphalt, sand and sky.
"For long stretches they were alone, the three of them, nothing and no one in sight but the deep copper gorges and vast sandstone cliffs. The desert unrolled ahead of them, open and wide, as though it had been created for them and them alone, the air still, blazing hot, the sky high and blue."
- Khaled Hosseini, And The Mountains Echoed