Day 2: A River Runs Through It  

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"Where's the Beef !?!"   

Now Mike and Bone stayed in what they thought was a Bed and Breakfast. They experienced the spartan bed, no problems, but the breakfast fell far short of expectations. Now it wasn't some exotic inedible Arab/Berber cuisine, it was a fu-fu breakfast of french crepes, biscuits, and coffee.  Not impressed the Boys bolted the food down and boogied out of their Riad, they couldn't wait for Khalid to take them into Cloud Atlas ! 

2nd World Morning in Marrakesh   

Since the SUV Khalid was going to use to drive the Boys through the narrow (and mostly unpaved) roads in the Atlas Mountains was unable to navigate in the even narrower Marrakesh Medina, Mike and Bone had to hoof if a few blocks to the car. En route they noticed the trash that seemed to be prevalent throughout the Medina that was sometimes, and sometimes not picked up.

Moroccan Urban Renewal!

It is about a 1 hour drive from the Medina to the base of the Atlas Mountains, along the way Mike and Bone saw a lot of abandoned buildings and garbage strewn villages. This is where they learned about the difference (and benefits!) of a constitutional vs. absolute monarchy! Morocco is ruled as a absolute monarchy, where all government city, state, federal is managed and directed by the King, so if he has your attention, life is good, if not there will be a lot of trash lying around!

While Mike and Bone got their Morrocan civics lesson the miles winded and before they knew it, they were in the Atlas Mountains! 

Cloud Atlas !!

The Atlas Mountains bi-sects the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic in Northern Africa. Its name is derived from the ancient Greeks that were convinced that the Atlas Mountains were the end of the Earth and that is where they believed that Atlas held the Earth on his shoulders.

Kool Klay Kolours !!

The colors of the Mountains can only be partially captured in the pictures. Mike and Bone figured out quickly why everything down in Marakesh was a that color of red!

In the Clouds,on the Atlas Mountains

Mike and Bone = Cloud Atlas! 

After driving through a few small towns, Khalid pulled the car over so that Mike and Bone could stretch their legs. The Boys immediately noticed that the tempurature had dropped from a hot and dry 90 degrees (what it was in Marrakesh) to a very comfortable 70 degrees with a nice breeze, as the day went along and the Boys went higher up in the Mountains, the winds increased and the tempurature dropped, which wasn't not good for the shorts-wearing lads!

The Atlas Mountains certainly make you see Red! 

"Go Blow, err Blue"  

Khalid certainly stopped for the Boys (or more likely the street side vendors who payed him off!) at each tourist stop so they could buy (which they didn't) the various trinkets they were pedaling. Mike and Bone notices that pretty much every shop had the ceramic cones that the Hotel Tazi served the Tagine to the Boys the night before, which was good since it was getting close to lunch and so some more of that Tangine stuff sounded pretty dang good! 

At 12,000 Feet!  

The Tizi n'Tichka Pass: Mike and Bone at the Highest Elevation  !!

Tizi n'Tichka is a mountain pass in Morocco, linking the south-east of Marrakesh to the city of Ouarzazate through the High Atlas mountains. It lies between the great Marrakech Plains and the gateway of the Sahara Desert. From November - March, snow can often fall on the pass, but it can be warm all year round in the strong sun due to its closeness to the Equator. On that day, Mike and Bone would tell you that they believed that it was about to snow up there!

Tizi n'Tichka  reaches an altitude of 2260 meter above sea level and is the highest major mountain pass in all of North Africa. The twisty-turny road was constructed by the French military in 1936, and is now part of National Route 9 that was the basic route the Khalid used for the Day's tour with thre Boys.

And while it is an awesome view, Khalid was very nervous driving the those hairpin switchbacks through the Pass, there have been a lot of poor souls that have gone for the permanent swan-dive. Apparently just the week before, a bus with over 50 tourists went on that swan dive to the sweet bye-and-bye.  

Mike and Bone in the Clouds

Passing through Tiny Berber Villages in the High Atlas

Once over the Pass, the terrain changed considerably and little Berber Towns began to pop up everywhere, each with a series of casbah's and mosques as can be found below.

A Berber Hybrid!

Nomadic Bone

"Ehhhh?"

Bone,, Finding the Rocks in his Head !!

Bauxite is very cool looking green igneous rock that provides an amazing color contrast through out the Atlas Mountain Range. Of course being a Rocker, Bone needed a couple, so rather than just picking up a couple next to the Road, Khalid and Mike and to stop so Bone could rummaged through half the mountainside, desperately looking for the perfect rocks. After finally finding them, Bone could barely climb back up the loose gravel and rock hill to the Road ! All to the amusement of Mike and Khalid!

A Classic Casbah!  

Tajegujite: A very cool village built into the Mountains

Tajegujite's simply Awesome Valley

 

An honest to Gosh, Berber Nomads House!

No Shiite, that is a lot of Sh*t!

Next Khalid showed the Boys an abandoned Nomadic Berber's Dwelling, so Mike and Bone hadda stop to check it out. Now this was cool! This wasn't no Hollywood set, this was the real deal!

The "House"  or the dwelling they lived in was built only with rocks, it had:

Based on the their "front yard", the Nomads could be seriously accused of living like animals since they kept their animals in the house with them. And course animals drop it where they stand, so the fenced in area around the house had an amazing amount of feces from their animal species! Quite different from  the midwestern suburban life style that Mike and Bone were use to!

 

Despite the poop, Mike and Bone were really hankering for Lunch since it was now pushing 1:00 PM and it had been a loong time since they had that foo-foo Breakfast of Crepes (which were now crap)!

Mike and Bone were so hungry they were going eat that Camel!

 

Khalid, Hiding from Mike and Bone !

Finally around 2:00 PM Khalid got the Boys to a tourist trap for a pre-paid lunch, which took forever but was still a another round of really good Beef Tangine.

After the tasty lunch Khalid drove Mike and Bone to a site that has been used for movie backdrops and tons of tourist trap stores which finally trapped the Bone!

Bone-Salam !

There is an old saying of "When in Rome go as the Romans", so since the Boys were in Morroco, it seemed like an good idea to dress like a Morrocan! Bone got hisself all decked out with classic desert garb, much to the amusement of Mike, Khalid, and every Morrocan that crossed Bone's path for the next 5 hours !  

Mike and Bone-Salam !

Mike, "Yeah, it really is that Funny !

Bone-Salam and Khalid

"Boo !!"

The Boys Camel Rides Awaiting !

Who! or which! is Bone-Salam!?!  

As mentioned earlier, the local Berbers thought Bone's get up was simply a hoot and insisted in getting their picture taken with Bone. This dude above was an absolute stranger with no English (or French!) but wanted in on the action !

Mike and Bone-Salam on top of Ksar At Ben Haddoub !!

After all the posing with whomever wanted their picture with Bone, the Boy went with Khalid up a hill and into the very cool Ksar At Ben Haddou

Ksar At Ben Haddou is a fortified city, or ksar, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. The site was also one of the many trading posts on the commercial route linking ancient Sudan to Marrakesh by the Dra Valley and the Tizi-n'Telouet Pass.

In contrast to a kasbah, a ksar is mainly a collective grouping and is a traditional pre-Saharan habitat.. Inside the defensive walls, which are reinforced by angle towers each with a zigzag-shaped gate, houses crowd together. Some are modest, others resemble small urban castles with their high angle towers whose upper portion presents decorative motifs in clay brick. But there are also buildings and community areas: collective sheep pens and stables, lofts and silos, market place, meeting room for the assembly of family chiefs, mosque, madrasas, etc.

Even though most of the town's inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river, eight families still live within the ksar.  

Ksar At Ben Haddou is another Moroccan UNESCO World Heritage Site and several films have been shot there, including:

So unlike the Berber Nomad's home, this WAS a Hollywood set!  Being a tourist trap, the locals displayed types of commercial begging behavior that bedevilled the Boys in Marakesh.

"Don't take my freakin' picture buddy !"

You gotta pay for my picture ! The dour dude above chased and cursed out Bone for the indignity of taking his picture and not paying him for the honor ! Figuring that the curses meant nothing, the Boys moved on.

However, there were storm clouds on the Horizon!!! 

17th Century Roofing in the Ksar!

Storms on the Horizon (Who'd thunk it in the Desert!)

The Valley of Ksar At Ben Haddoub

30 Years of Mike and Bone Foolishness !!

Mike and Bone were having a splendid time walking around in the very awsome Ksar, however as the winds picked up the Old Man's curse of ill will turned into a ill wind and rain! Why does it always rain on Mike and Bone in the Desert ! (e.g. Tornadoes in Arizona!)

I walk a mile for a Camel?

"You Guys really want to do this Camel Thing?"

With the weather about to turn, Khalid got the Boys back down the Hill and in front of the Ksar, where they had three camels for rent. Quickly paying the guy, Mike and Bone got to caravaning with their One Camel (no horse power) drive rides !

Joe Camel

"Howdy Pardner ?!?"

Mike and Bone would walk a mile for a Camel!

"Dang! A Camel does not taste like a Cigarette!

Riding a camel is similar to riding a horse, but not a bike! They tended to go where they wanted and at best took direction from the Boys. While it was a ton of fun, the rain started to come down in absolute buckets, and all decided it was time to head back to the SUV to start back to Marakesh, or so they thought!

Mike and Bone, in the Pouring Rain!

Post Camel, Post Deluge Mike and Bone  

By the time Mike, Bone, and Khalid walked the 1/4 mile back to the car, they were all soaked to the Bone (Mike and Khalid too! ) Heading back on Route 9 the Boys came to an abrupt stop with 1/4 mile of traffic in front of them.

Little did they know that this would be the beginning of a 7 hour odessey !!! Apparently the Old Man's curse was worse than they figured!

Muddy Waters Blues!

The funny thing about rain in the desert is that the ground just ain't used to it, so that when does rain, much it simply runs off in the lowest place possible, which unfortunately for Mike and Bone was across their road!

The first stop was about an hour and a half, where Mike and Bone simply wandered around until the water started going down to the point, that Bone went into the water to remove a few big rock so that Khalid would not be afraid of ripping up the bottom of the SUV. 

Finally on the road about 7:00 PM Khalid was concerned and rightly so about another spot on the road, that had an even worse back up and the water wasn't a stream it was a freakin river going over the road!!! 

Muddy Waters Blues, Part Deux!

This second washout was at least 100 yards across and was at least 5 feet deep. With the local Police and lots of tourist trapped everyone started to hang out and chat with their fellow trappees! Bone struck up a conversation with a little 31 year old Swiss Miss that was a Bookseller in Zurich. For the next two hours Mike, Bone, Khalid, and their new friend Erika stood on a hill watching the following water and the ocassional idiot who tried to cross only to be swept into the mud much to the amusement of all watching. Some of the local kids took pity on the those stuck in the mud and organized pushing teams, that resulting in only everyone getting soaked and muddy.

Finally as the water receded sufficiently the Police brough in a Bulldozer to clear the mud (and the stuck cars) however by now it was pushing 9:00 PM, which would have been the time the Boys would have been back in Marrakesh if they left at 5:00, and they had yet to have any dinner!

"Mud ado over Nothing !?!"

Chicken Tangine was the Thing!

By now Mike, Bone, and Khalid were tired, muddy, and still soaked from being in the rain earlier, after an hour on the hour, it started to pour again. Starved and thirsty as heck, Mike and Bone convinced Khalid to stop for Dinner. Khalid stopped in a place that certainly was NOT a tourist trap. It was a dingy, muddy restaurant with a few naked lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling. The choice was Chicken Tangine, or Chicken Tangine. If you didn't like Chicken Tangine you could get the Chicken Tangine, so obviously the Boys got Chicken Tangine, was wasn't really cooked too well (ain't nottin' like raw chicken!) and the locals kept giving Mike and Bone the stink eye, because, well, they weren't locals!

After a hasty and crappy Dinner, the Boys probably should not have eaten because the next challenge almost made them lose their lunch!

Now, Playing Chicken in the Tricky and Treacherous Tizi n'Tichka Pass !!!!

Unfortunately the rain didn't let up during Dinner, in fact it only got worse. When the Boys got in the car Khalid only two pieces of bad news:

1. The Heater didn't work. Especially bad for Mike since he was freezing!

2. The Defroster didn't work either! Especially bad for driving in flat conditions let along treacherous mountain passes that just claimed the lives of 50+ tourists!

So for the next 3 terrifying and draining hours the Boys wound their way down through the Atlas Mountains and especially the Tizi n'Ticha Pass while the Mike was trying to wipe the interior of the Windshield for Khalid with the windows open (to slow the fogging) in the 40 degree driving rain.

Finally and fortunately they made down with out an incident. As they got out of the Mountains the rain cleared up and it warmed up into the 80's which warmed the frozen cockles of Mike and Bone' heart!

So with all the flooding and driving pretty much through the Mountains mostly blind Mike and Bone were back at their Riad in Marrakesh by Midnight, totally wiped out!