Vacation from the Vacation

Trip Start Apr 01, 2010
Trip End Apr 18, 2010

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Flag of Morocco  , Souss-Massa-Drâa,
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today was a much-needed break from the hectic pace of the trip.

We started with a well-appreciated sleep-in. In fact, I nearly slept in too late; I hit my alarm when it went off at the decadent hour of nine, and didn't open my eyes again until a quarter to ten. Since we were due to leave at ten, there was a bit of a mad scramble to get ready, but it was all good.

The day started with a guided hike through the palm groves at the base of the mountains. A few of the others had opted for a much tougher hike up to the top of the gorge, but I was still feeling the effects of the camel ride, and chose the easier walk. We saw lots of local flora and fauna, including dates, figs, almonds, fruits, vegetables and even a well-camouflaged frog. The hike took us down by the river and we watched the local women doing the washing by hand and the kids playing by the water.

We wound through the old houses of the villages - some in a real state of disrepair. As Aziz explained, some of the older adobe-style houses have been abandoned, since it's more expensive to repair them than it is to build new concrete homes.

Our hike ended at a local inn and restaurant run and owned by none other than Aziz's family. This was our stop to sample some Berber pizza and to spend a relaxing afternoon visiting with his parents, brothers, and assorted nieces and nephews. One of his nephews kept drawing cartoon-like pictures of the members of our group, with uncanny ability to zoom in on features like big ears or awkward noses. One of his nieces offered to henna the hands of anyone who wanted; a few of the women in the group took her up on it.

We had a delicious lunch, and then had another carpet-making demonstration. Unlike the one in Fes, this one was much more authentic and much less about the hard sell. Maybe because it was Aziz's family, maybe because the prices were lower, or maybe because it really felt like supporting an authentic village craft, three people in our group bought carpets. Hell, I wasn't even in the market for a carpet, and even I was tempted. (I didn't, though.)

We headed back to the hotel in the late afternoon and pretty much just chilled out all evening, having a few drinks by the pool followed by another delicious dinner. This was really a break from the hectic pace of the trip, and I, for one, certainly appreciated the rest.

I see from checking the scores that the Habs have managed to limp sideways into the playoffs. Not the greatest showing, but we're in, so I guess we'll take that. I'm half expecting to be eliminated by the time I get home, but you never know. Go Habs Go!
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