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Monday, December 10, 2012

Cadillac Commercial Through Morocco's Atlas Mountains At The Dadès Gorges

I started visiting Morocco in 1969 and I've been there over a dozen times since. At some point it can't just be about laying around Marrakesh, Essaouira, Tangier and Fes. So some years ago I set out across the Atlas Mountains south of Marrakesh and discovered Taroudant, which is kind of what Marrakesh was like in the 1960s before it became so cosmopolitan. I loved it and kept going back. From there we'd set out for Tiznit and even Sidi Ifni further south and east and then, eventually for Ouarzazate, Zagora south and west and even Mhamid right at the edge of the Sahara, the last stop before the 2 month camel ride to Timbuktu.

I just saw the Cadillac ad above with the driver going through the Atlas Mountains at the Dadès Gorges. We did hire a camel driver and his son to take us out into the Sahara Desert... but not as far as Timbuktu, which we did eventually get to-- in a jeep. As for the curving passes of the High Atlas... oh yes; we did that, several times in fact. But once was a time I'll never forget. We weren't going nearly as fast as the Cadillac in the ad-- nor did we have nearly as good a vehicle-- but we were descending pretty briskly when... no more pavement. The asphalt suddenly gave way to gravel.

You know what happens when the asphalt suddenly gives way to gravel? It had never crossed my mind 'til then either. But we spun right out of control and headed for one of those drops you can see in the Cadillac ad. In fact, the bottom of that gorge is filled with cars and trucks that did go over during the years. I'd like to say it was my reflexes and skillful driving that saved us-- and it may have been; who remembers anything but the sheer terror? But I think it was just luck. The car came to a stop an inch from the deadly drop. Within seconds a dozen old Berber men appeared out of nowhere and were swarming all over us, as though they came out of the sides of the rocky crevices. Each one wanted to touch my heart. For luck I guess.

Nothing much in M'Hamid but flies, sand and camels

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