the best place in Morocco

While in Berrechid, I met Rekaya:

She’s from Tafraoute and she told me that her hometown was the very best place in Morocco. She googled Tafraoute on her phone and showed me the image results: golden mountains, palm trees, huge blue boulders. She didn’t know why someone had coated those big rocks in paint, but she smiled and shrugged and said that she did know that the people in Tafraoute were nice, and that it was a beautiful place. I believed her. (Wouldn’t you?).

So as I traveled through Morocco, I made sure to wander in the general direction of Rekaya’s town. When I reached the southern coast, I spent week or so riding buses (operated by Lux Transports) back and forth between Mirleft and Sidi Ifni:

(click on a photo to open a slideshow with captions)

Looking at a map, it appeared that Tafraoute was just a few inches away from there. Great! So I took the now-familiar number 18 bus back to Tiznit. And then waited in a parking lot for a Tafraoute-bound grand taxi to fill up.

A few prayers and an hour later, we were off. The ride was long and frightening. Our perplexingly clumsy driver repeatedly dropped things (cell phone, coins) onto the floor and then searched for them with one hand and both eyes just as he rounded the sharpest curves. Twice I honest to goodness thought that he was going to drive us all straight into that misty blue sky. I breathed deeply and hoped that being shoehorned into the car with eight large men would help us all survive the impact.

But our driver was apparently a professional (at being lucky). When he finally cruised nonchalantly into a parking spot in central Tafraoute, we all tumbled out of the taxi, grabbed our bags, and silently went our separate ways, as if we hadn’t just shared a 3-hour near-death experience. (I know they were scared, too).

Tafraoute was indeed beautiful, and the people I met seemed polite, distant and, yes, quite nice. While there, I did my usual routine of not doing much at all. Some walking, some eating, some sitting in the sun on quiet cafe patios, watching other people also do not very much around me.

I saw a bike rental place and got excited. I got up early(ish) the next morning, packed some snacks, got my bike, and headed out to explore:

I was home in time for the evening call to prayer (the prettiest I heard in Morocco, and during which, interestingly, the town bustled with more non-prayer activity than at any other time of day):

Back in town I stopped by a little shop that had some old postcards from c. 1980 (?) Tafraoute  – one of which got me wondering how they managed to remove that huge pile of boulders without Photoshop:

When I realized that I’d taken a picture of the same house but not at the exact same angle as in the postcard, I considered hopping back on the bike, peddling furiously back down the road, and stumbling around in the bushes in the fading sunlight until I found the perfect position from which to take a more comparable then/now shot. But then I told myself that sometimes I really need to get a life.

So instead I skyped with my friend and then treated myself to dinner out (instead of tuna and yogurt. again). And I had the best damn tagine (chicken stew) in all of Morocco, in the cutest single-serving tagine (serving dish), and watched a game of fut with the nicest guys who shared with me so much of their mint tea that I couldn’t sleep that night.


During my sleeplessness, I got curious about how photos were edited waaay back in the last century, and earlier. If you’re wondering, too, here’s a quick little interview about it, from PBS News Hour.

Stay tuned for more lazy adventures. There will be chilly mountains and an apple harvest.

(And thanks, Ms. Rekaya. You were right).

©, 2013-2016.


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