Taza to Azrou

Today we have driven miles and miles up and down mountain roads of breathtaking beauty and variety. Sometimes it reminded us of the Cévennes, sometimes of the Pyrenees. But always on a grander and wilder scale.

Mustafa’s farm had already been about 1500 metres high and now we continued to climb up and up, with views back across vast hazy hill ranges. The geology was a fascinating mixture of limestone, often not unlike the cirque de Navacelles, but then it would change to sandstone or clay. Almost everywhere there were olive trees, often looking as if they were self planted – and certainly on such steep slopes it would surely be impossible to harvest the olives. Sometimes we passed irrigated areas with a variety of vegetables, in the flatter areas there had obviously been a harvest of wheat. But mainly we saw just goats and sheep, and people passing on mules and donkeys.

I longed to stop and ask to take photos of some of the old men on their mules but did not dare for fear of offending. We saw so many with weathered, wrinkled faces, usually wearing an improbably complex arrangement of shawls and headgear. Instead, we waved, and they waved back.

We drove and drove and drove, mesmerised by the beauty of the landscapes, often stopping to admire it – or so that I, the navigator could try to work out where we were on my phone and how to navigate the network of winding, anonymous roads.

Well, here we are in Azrou in what looks like a good riad. While I write this, Dan has gone out for an explore. This is his first trip in Africa and to a Muslim country, so much is novel.

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