We caught a ride with Melissa, an American woman we met in Fes who was picking up a rental car and heading in our direction. It was a great day and much more fun than a 5 hour bus ride.
After stopping in Azrou for a quick lunch we drove up into the Cedar forests in search of the Barbary monkeys. Melissa had some information on where they could be spotted so we parked the car and strolled among the huge Cedars with our eyes peeled. Here we thought we were on a wilderness quest and just 200m up the road was a parking lot surrounded by tourist stands and lots of well fed monkeys. As touristy as it was the macaques were beautiful. They were tame enough that we could get up really close to watch their communal grooming sessions.
We are now well into the Middle Atlas and are beginning to see mud houses and Kasbahs. The light at sunset and sunrise is just fantastic.
We have many friends here. Two men both named Rashid attached themselves to us for a while. Rashid number 1 joined us on our walk and led us through the old Jewish Kasbah in town. It is still inhabited but the last Jew died five years ago. The mud and straw construction can become a deadly situation when heavy rain storms periodically collapse the buildings. Apparently last year 20 people died when several homes collapsed. The king donated money to rebuild the Kasbah, but I think I would be looking for a concrete or brick alternative .
You can’t imagine our surprise to discover that both Rachids had carpet shops and were very eager to offer us a Berber welcome and mint tea there. I am afraid we were a disappointment on that front.