Moroccan Imperial Cities – 2010 – Fez to Marrakech

Day 6 – Wednesday May 5th – Today we leave for Marrakech. It is a drive of 387 kilometers over the Atlas Mountains. There are just the five of us in a van including the driver. He seems like a pleasant enough fellow and a fearless driver. He has been with us the entire journey and will remain with us.

It can be a hot drive if the air conditioning isn’t working properly. Thankfully the van is in perfect working order, thanks to our driver.

All seems fine as we set off on the journey. The sky is clear and the road seems good as far as we can see ahead of us. There are, however, no guard rails along the side of the road. It is early and still pleasant. The weather may get warmer before we reach Marrakech.

We pass through Immouzer to Kandar a Berber Village, to and through Ifrane, a ski resort in the winter and then to Azrou, a Berber village know for it’s handicrafts of woodcarving and carpet weaving.

We will arrive in Marrakech late in the afternoon, if all goes well. Who knows what awaits us down the winding gravel and dirt road. The mountains are rugged and high.

If all goes well, it can be a little boring to travel sometimes, looking at the mountains and the fields which could be anywhere. I look forward to the unknown.

Perhaps, like when the motor of our new Mercedes bus blew up in Cuba out in the country side, far from Havana, and we all worked together to fill the radiator from water in the canals of a nearby orchard, using plastic bags.

We were all a mess when we were finished. The work did little to repair the bus, but we had worked together and learned a little about ourselves and the people that we were traveling with. When things go south, you can get a picture of who people really are.

We were rescued by an ancient school bus passing by, eventually. It started out as a small, yellow smudge on the distant horizon and unexpectedly turned into our salvation.

Our guide had called for a new bus, but we were far out in the countryside and heaven only knew if there was a spare bus just waiting for ours to break down.

The floor in the school bus had holes in it, almost large enough for the children to fall through. We watched the asphalt pass by quickly under our feet as we were taken to a small store to await our new bus.

In Cuba, passing vehicles are obliged to help stranded passengers and pedestrians when possible. The bus system is over crowded, uncomfortable and dangerous. That sounds like something I might be interested in.

The bus ride to school on this thing every morning must never be boring at least. Survival of the fittest does make the human race more resilient, but come on now.

As we waited at the little store, we all had a chance to visit with each other and find out what had drawn all of us to Cuba at this particular moment in time. That, at least, was something we all had in common.