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Time in the Rif

The Rif Mountains in the north of Morocco are gentle and full of just about anything you can think of. There are small towns, beaches, wildlife and more. The one thing I had hoped to do was photograph some wild animals, so figured to head out into the mountains and see what could be found.

It was on a Thursday morning in late February, as early as possible, that I walked over to the street near the train station where a number of buses could be boarded. I had done this before when I took a trip to Ksar es Seghir on the I3 bus. It's not expensive and there was a spot I had seen on the first journey which could fit the bill. In large towns and cities buses can only be boarded at bus stops. Out in the country and small villages is a different matter. You can stop a bus anywhere to get on or off, so that is what I did.
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This was the easy bit...

I have walked trails and wild country in: Alaska, The Pacific Northwest, a few places in Nevada, the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California, England, the Basque Mountains and the Negev Desert. The Negev was the roughest, but this trek put them all to shame. Smooth trails and off trail here is a whole 'nother ball game. Plus the wind was up with some 30 mph gusts and it took ages to find a stick to use as a third leg, it was a piece of bamboo and did the job.

There were trails here, many had prints in from sheep and goats. Off to the right as I was hiking up this 1200 foot mountain, was a shepherd with probably sixty sheep, he waved and I returned the wave slowly ascending the mountainside. I had to pay close attention for every footfall until I reached the top. Wildlife was non existent, except for one small red butterfly which I didn't bother to photograph. I did a small loop around and started walking over open ground. There were some meadows here and there, but the ground cover for a lot of it was some kind of low cactus and I was glad of my boots.
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Continuing on, I went for a spell and saw some black goats not far away. Sitting off to the left was the goatherd and we exchanged waves. Wandering over I met Loas (or Losa. not sure which). He's Berber and spoke some Spanish in a strange dialect but we managed to communicate. We sat for some time just chatting and I asked which was the best way to get back to the main road to grab the bus.
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He pointed in a direction that was the opposite of down and proceeded to lead me to a quite wide pathway, full of rocks and stones. He lives on the other side of the mountain with his family. Being used to the terrain, he strode along with ease and I tried to follow in his footsteps. Finally we reached a point where I realized our location and we parted company, me heading out and he going back to his big black goats.
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Further on I stopped for a rest, my legs were killing me and decided I would get on the road and walk into the small town in the near distance to grab some food before the bus came by.
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Took a break here before going on to the road to reach the town.

Once there,I sat down with a glass of mint tea and sort of boiled egg sandwich talking with a Jewish guy, whose friend owned the cafe. He's a journalist who had spent years in Doncaster (England) and other places, like media people do. We talked for a while and he showed me a kind of park for the town which was across the main road where I had seen a bus stop to let someone off a few hundred metres in front of me as approached the town. After a short time he went back to the cafe and I waited for the bus.

The time on the mountain, though rough walking, had been good. No phone contact, because it's out of range, or wildlife. There was silence, cool with the breeze and I met two people. A number of times I would stop, sit on a big rock and just enjoy it all. By the time I got back to Tangier, I was very tired and grabbed a couple of hours shut eye.
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A few days later my time in Maroc was over and I boarded a plane to fly back to London via Madrid


I liked it.
Mar 16, 2024

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