Monday 20 November


Todra

A tasty omelette for breakfast. Most of us are up for the ridge-walk today and we are soon away. We walk a short distance up the gorge to the point where the river turns abruptly right. To our left is a wide rocky scree-covered gully up which we begin to make our way. The going is a little less tough than Andy had led us to believe in his pre-walk build-up, but we certainly move at a cracking pace. The path is quite stony and steep in places as it follows the side of the hill up to the top. Not far from the top we emerge into full sunlight. At the col, a shepherd girl runs over to us and starts asking for ‘un dirham’. She will not be put off and makes such a pain of herself that we quickly decide to move on a little higher to the end of a broad ridge, where we stay for a while to admire the view over the Todra Valley.

As we leave to return to the bottom, Dennis decides to continue a little further around the top to meet up with us for lunch at the other end of the gorge. I am torn between going with him and staying with the rest of the group. Finally my stomach decides and I return the easy way with the rest of the group to the small village at the bottom of the gorge where Andy has arranged lunch.

As it happens, Dennis arrives at the restaurant shortly after us and it is Hillary from the valley walk whom we fear we may have lost. Most of us have finished our salad and chips, brochettes, and freshly squeezed orange juice when she finally rolls up. It suddenly gets cold at a quarter past two as the sun disappears behind the hills.

Later that afternoon, we take a tour of the village allotments to see the irrigation system. Each family has their allotted hour when they may divert the water from the irrigation channels into their plots. If you miss your slot at 2 am, you must wait until the next time! Many of the plots are becoming unsustainably small as they are repeatedly subdivided each time the family grows. The sun, low in the sky, casts a deep orange light onto the craggy mountains behind, contrasting with the rich greens of the gardens in this narrow fertile strip in the desert.

Back at the hotel, we sit around on the patio drinking coffee under the deep blue dusk strip of sky between the mighty black shadows of the cliff faces. Our buffet dinner is couscous, tagine, etc, etc. And guess what? Tangerines for dessert!