Morocco was a country of contrasting scenery – some of it green and lush, some high and snowy, some dusty and bare. We stopped at the town of Midelt situated at 4500 feet on the high plains at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains. The town was a bustling commercial and tourist centre and was so far inland that it had a microclimate of extremes – bitterly cold in winter and oppressively hot in summer. When we visited (November) it was pleasantly warm in the sunshine although pretty cold at nights. The area was known for producing apples; sacks of apples were being sold by the roadside from stalls stretching for mile upon mile. We couldn’t decide what they could possibly do with all those apples, they were the soft, fluffy type and definitely not on a par with a Cosmic Crisp!
One day we took a taxi tour through the magnificent Gorges d’Aouli to the local mines that had once employed 6000 people, producing lead, gypsum and other minerals. Nowadays the mining villages were virtually deserted with just a few miners looking for fossils and dinosaur bones.
As luck would have it, the car we were travelling in developed a mechanical fault and we were stuck in the middle of nowhere and away from a mobile phone signal. We waited almost an hour whilst the driver tinkered with the engine until, finally, a Maroc Telecom van came by and offered us a lift back.
The two of us shared the front passenger seat and the driver’s boy was put in the back amongst their tools. In was a long, uncomfortable ride home – for us but more for the poor the boy stuck in the windowless rear of the van.
The camp site was unusual in that it offered campers an evening meal. The first day chicken tagine was on the menu and the following day it was chicken couscous. The two dishes were absolutely identical but for the addition of couscous on day 2. We found the it a good idea to take along a bottle of Tabasco sauce to enhance the bland (but genuine and well cooked) food.