In the morning, we woke up eager to embark on our next adventure. We collected our things and met our driver, Yousseff, in the “Big Square”. He would be driving us in a minivan throughout the Atlas Mountains for the next four days. He is Berber and speaks mostly French. He is in his mid forties, the father of two, and very pleasant.
Quickly upon entering the Atlas Mountains, we discovered the bathrooms are essentially a hole in the ground accented by piece of porcelain with places to set your feet. There is no toilet paper but some of the more luxurious facilities include a hose with a plastic bucket (though I’m not sure how they’re supposed to work).
We drove for several hours stopping occasionally for views and pictures of the baron landscape scattered with occasional areas of plush green. On our way down a mountain side, we come upon a car accident. The back end of a flat bed truck carrying a tractor managed to catch the driver side of a small RV. No one is injured but the RV is in bad shape with the driver side door ripped off. Upon our arrival, more than 100 people have gathered to stare and gawk (like Jeff gawking at a belly dancer). The old couple inside was somewhat frantic and uncertain how to proceed. Yousseff, amongst all of the spectators quickly stepped up, assessed the situation and decided on a course of action. He instructed the driver to put the car in neutral and roll forward. This successfully separates the two vehicles and allows cars to pass. Shortly thereafter, we’re back on the road.
At the end of the day, we stop at a casbah. This particular casbah has been used for scenes from a movie (though I can’t recall which one). The sun was setting and forces long shadows along the ground and the buildings. We all captured some amazing pictures and endeavored to see the inside of the casbah. As we walked through the small town surrounding the casbah, we realized that we must cross a small river in order to reach the casbah. On one side of the river, entrepreneurial teenage boys hold mules that tourist can use to navigate the river without getting wet. We all oblige their offers and ride across the river.
At the top of the casbah, we come across two teenage boys playing the drums. They are quite good and both Ted and I film them playing. Ted collected their email address and we agreed to send the video once we return home (which Ted still hasn’t done).
That night, we found a quiet hotel facing the casbah. Once it got dark, we realized the pure silence of the desert. There was very little life beyond that which humans had forced on the region. Only a dog barking somewhere in the distance could be heard (and despite best efforts, I was not able to strangle it).