Chefchaouen (the syllable in the middle rhymes with cow – Shef-show-en) was a city the Rif Mountains and our camp site was at the top of the town. It was a pleasant twenty minute walk down through the narrow cobbled streets of the old town. To get back to the camp site we would cheat and get a taxi. The weather was warm, 25° but cooler at night.
We visited Maroc Telecom to buy a card for internet access (£8 For 20 gigs). The town was teeming with street markets, the pavements covered with things for sale. In one area we saw piles of dead chickens, feet tied, feathers on – then we saw a head move and we were horrified to realise that the birds were still alive, but only just.
Azrou was our next stop, we only stayed one night as we wanted to get further south. The camp site was beautiful, set in an orchard and we had a warm welcome from the guardian who left a breakfast baguette outside our door the following morning. The cost of our stay was £6, including a hot shower. There were ducks and chickens and a parrot on a perch in the tree. The guardian also had a little fluffy dog that had lost the use of its back legs in an accident. The dog managed to shuffle around, occasionally barking, reminding me of those battery operated toy dogs that yapped as they moved moved in circles.
The journey south the next day took us through the Middle Atlas Mountains, the terrain was desert-like until you came to the river valleys. Here the land was verdant and there were roadside stalls selling their local produce of apples, pomegranates, dried herbs and honey. We stopped for lunch at a classy looking hotel with tourist buses parked outside. We paid £24 for a beer, delicious Moroccan salads made with finely chopped tomatoes, onions and herbs, dressed with oil. Then Tony had pasta and I bravely chose a camel tagine which was extremely tasty. We finished off the meal with pomegranate and satsumas and coffee.
We arrived at Ar-Rachidia in the late afternoon and decided to drive a further 20k on to Meski where we regularly stayed en route for the Sahara. Here we were welcomed like old friends, ushered to our favourite spot on the site and invited to visit the community shops that sold the usual tourist bric a brac.