Climbing the Atlas Mountains on a mule-Travelling to Marrakesh

Sitting here in my room with a bowl of strawberries, trying to sort out my trip pictures and document each of my days on this blog. What has this to do with the strawberries? Nothing, but if there is one thing that Marrakesh taught me is the importance and tastefulness of fresh fruit and even more importantly freshly squeezed orange juice!Orange juice was in abundance everywhere…even at the top of the Atlas Mountains….

We left our hotel early in the morning and drove for about an hour outside Marrakesh until we reached the small village of Imlil, where most of the guided treks and Toubkal tours start.

To my surprise men with mules were waiting for us, to pick up one and experience the traditional way of transportation people in the village use for centuries. For a person like me, who has never been on a horse or donkey, climbing and riding a mule was quite interesting…

I was supposed to get on a brown mule but this white one-who I later on named Dave-approached me slyly and in a very cheeky way he pushed the brown away, so I was left with no other option than to ride him. I felt a bit uncomfortable knowing that a poor animal had to carry my weight but soon enough I realised that if I keep my body centre stable the animal is not feeling like carrying your weight, so we became friends very soon. Some whispered words of kindness and encouragement also helped, so it’s safe to say that Dave and I had much fun climbing up until the Kasbah du Toubkal.

The men and their stylish mules led our way…

…and after about half an hour we made a stop to a house owned by a Berber family. Dave was pretty fine in case you have been wondering.

The view from up here was stunning, it overlooked the village of Imlil and the mountains. Grey, beige and coral colors all combined to make this picturesque landscape, that looks as if it came out of a fairytale story.

We were offered freshly baked bread that just came out of the oven with sweet mint tea. So satisfying after being in the mountains for such a long time!

I have come to realise that olive oil and bread are good for the soul. This combination seriously make everyone happy!!!

We left our mules, said our goodbyes and continued our adventure this time by feet. Next on our schedule was to experience the long-established Berber hospitality. The owners of the Kasbah du Toubkal kindly had set up a table on the rooftop waiting for us and the women in the kitchen did their best to satisfy our taste buds with food simple yet so tasty!

We started with a selection of light salads and then proceeded to the mains, slowly roasted beef with figs and root vegetables with plenty of olive oil for the vegetarians.

Experiencing the hospitality of the locals, tasting delicious, home-made food and praising the beauty of nature was beyond my expectations.

People here don’t have much, their lives are simple. Their income comes mainly from agriculture and by selling locally made rugs. The women have tough lives as they carry wood on their head to light the fire and bake the bread and men work pretty much all day long-nothing to do with our typical 9-5 day. However, they are happy, they are smiley and above all grateful for everything and anything.
I couldn’t speak their language to thank them, but a smile and a gesture was enough for them to receive my appreciation. Same goes with the children, they don’t have fancy clothes or expensive toys but they were utterly satisfied to play with stones, tree branches and birds.
The lessons that I was taught during that day will always stay in my heart!
I sat at the corner of the rooftop trying to absorb this moment in and never forget it, never let it go…and I think I made it!

More about Marrakesh coming tomorrow.



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