Morocco 3: The narrative of Thomas
To see more from Thomas, check out his Instagram!
Hi there! This is Thomas, Matthias' younger brother, born in '99. I guess I'm gonna fill in the gaps (4 days) of our Morocco trip when my brother was down with the shits…
On the first of those four days we decided to visit a library that holds a lot of old books about Moroccan history and heritage. When we arrived at the desired destination, we were greeted by the local car guard who would have an eye on our car while we would stroll through the corridors of said library. If I remember correctly my brother stayed in the car, so no car guard needed. Turns out most books were behind glass and also written in Moroccan scripture. I guess we could have known that before coming there 😉. So this visit was kind of a bummer, because you could just look at the books and wonder what secrets they would hold. Because I'd like to see myself as a photographer, I took the essential pictures, then left.
The next day Samira and I decided to do a circular hike through the Todgha Gorge and over the steep Atlas Mountains near Tinghir. Hoping not to bore you, here are some facts about the gorge: At an elevation of approx. 1,500 meters it is 24 kilometers long and at its narrowest part its width is 10 meters. In some places the canyon walls can be up to 400 meters high. But enough of that. We parked our car near the entrance of the gorge and started walking. On the way to the gorge there are a few restaurants and booths where you can buy freshly squeezed orange juice for cheap. We continued walking towards the gorge and entered to see even more Moroccan vendors selling all kinds of stuff nobody really wants nor needs. A that time a stream was running through the gorge. Some Moroccans decided to place their business directly in that stream in the form of plastic tables and monobloc chairs. While cooling your feet after a long hike on a hot day you can enjoy tea, juice and snacks. Not being hungry and not so exhausted we marched on through the crowd of tourists hoping that none of the cars that drive there would hit us.
After a couple of kilometers, we started climbing the walls of the gorge on a steep path. On that path a young boy hastily asked us if we had seen his donkey coming down the mountain. Since we didn't see any donkey we negated and walked on. After some more hiking we decided it was time for a short breather and sat down on some rocks to have water and snacks. Soon we would be bothered by some "mountain people" asking for money. I said that I wouldn't give any but an older woman told me that she would be happy taking my camera. A bit confused I negated again, but Samira gave them a little money and I believe some snacks for their kids. Watching them wander off we got back up and walked on. On our way we came trough a camp where those people seemed to live. Way to go!
When we looked up, we saw a dark weather front coming for our Mountain. Knowing that lightning can be very dangerous when you are exposed, we accelerated our steps only to get lost, due to the path ending and then splitting up in different directions. Coming up a ridge we enjoyed the view over the rugged scenery.
On that ridge we met some fellow German hikers who were lost as well. Fun fact: They recognized us as Germans because of my Jack Wolfskin Backpack. Apparently Jack Wolfskin gear is a clear sign for germanness. We all thought it was a good idea to team up and hike together. So I took the lead and chose a path which seemed to go in the right direction. With the dark clouds coming closer we started to descend the mountain side. Over some loose rocks and gravel we slid and stumbled downwards to safe grounds. Back down, we said our goodbyes and walked our separate paths. Just a few kilometers later we arrived back at the car, happy that we were able to escape the bad weather but still hungry for more adventure.
The very next day Samira told us that she had read about a mining village that was abandoned after the miners ran out of raw materials on site. It would now be a real "ghost town". How exciting! The village is called Mibladene and is located next to a small river. The road to the village is very rugged and takes a lot of sharp turns. Our Panda managed it very well though. At one point you must cross the river over a wooden bridge that looks really sketchy because it is made up of large logs of wood with big gaps in-between. When driving over it, the logs move around and you hear a loud rattling sound. A bit scary…
Reading this, you know we survived just fine and drove into town. On arrival the town looked very much dead, no one around. Old factory buildings, houses and machines rust and crumble next to the flowing river.
Obviously, Samira and myself got out of the car to start exploring. My brother Matthias who was very sick at this point decided to stay in the car and would later look for a shady spot to rest and escape the hot sun. The town really felt like a big (and dangerous) playground for the both of us. We looked at the old factory halls, walked over a bridge with tracks that was used to transport minerals from the mine, climbed walls and walked up a steep incline to have a better view over Mibladene.
At some point, we discovered that not everyone had left the town. We came by a small house, more like a hut in which a man lived. He invited us to come in and have some tea. Upon entering we saw that he had an incredible amount of conserved food in cans.
He seemed a bit lonely to be honest and was probably happy to meet someone new. He told us about the mine and offered to take us there. Luckily the mine was located right next to his home, so we entered the long, dark and humid tunnel. It was so humid that there was even fog hanging in the air, on the floor was water, sometimes a foot deep.
Unfortunately, the man's English wasn't that good so I can't really reproduce what he had told us.
Old trams laid rusty on its sides, out of use for decades. It really was an eerie sight. When we came back out and felt the sun on our skin, we where a bit relieved to have escaped the cold mine. Thanking the guy, we gave him a little money for the tea and the tour and said goodbye. We decided that we had seen enough of the town and walked back to the car only to find Matthias missing. Not knowing where he had wandered off to (he had a fever) we started looking for him. After not finding him we started yelling but did not get a response. Thinking he might have fallen of a roof or something like that we started expanding our search area and met some more locals who were happy to help us look for my brother. We didn't find him for a long time. But then finally we found him hidden behind a wall, listening to music with his earphones. Happy to have him back (and a bit agitated) we thanked the locals for their help. They then offered us some more tea and took us to their home. We sat down at a small table and tried the tea. My brother politely declined because he didn't feel so good. Upon swallowing my tea, I felt dizzy all of a sudden. Thinking the tea was spiked with something I got really scared for a second only to feel the dizziness fading. I really do not know what kind of tea that was, but it really scared me a little!!
The locals where hospitable and polite though. One of them pulled a long wooden pipe from his pocket and put some green herb into it. Of course, I asked what he was smoking, and he said with a smile that it was cannabis and offered us a puff. After having such a weird experience with the tea, I politely declined 😉. After the tea, they took us on a small tour through town. One of the locals had lived in Germany for some time and spoke some German. They showed us what life was like when the city was still occupied by the miners. They even had a cinema, but a few years back there was a big flood that flooded the cinema and left great amounts of mud which accumulated on the floor.
They never finished the cleanup… When we had seen all the sights, they even offered us to stay overnight but being on tight schedule we thanked them for the tour and decided it was time to hit the road again!