We had a large breakfast buffet at the hotel in Marrakesh this morning. There were pastries and cereal and bread and pancakes. Also, they served a lot of hot foods and cold salads. Fresh juice, hot coffee and hot chocolate and mint tea were also offered. I could drink Moroccan mint tea each morning.
We met our guide, Mustapha, at nine then went to the store for water and hit the road. Ahmed is our driver. As we drove it was clear we were traveling a well-worn tourist/tour group route. At each stop, there were already two or three TOURISME vans like ours parked in the lot. Our first stop was for mint tea and scenic views. There were many souvenirs for sale, and it was full restaurant. Next, Ahmed pulled over at a rocks and minerals and fossils roadside stand. I could tell the men there were disappointed that we did not buy anything. The stop for lunch included a tour of the Huile D’Argan process, and this time, we bought lip balm and tipped the young women who demonstrated the shelling and grinding process. There was one other road side stop with again rocks and minerals and no explanation from our guide.
At lunch, we spent some time talking with Mustapha. We learned about his family and his upbringing. He is Berber, and he speaks Berber, Arabic, French and English. During the morning drive and at lunch, we talked about Moroccan government structures and elections, public and private schools, and Berber history. It was all very interesting.
The route today took us through the High Atlas Mountains. We took the highest road in Morocco - the Tichka pass. The roads were not as twisty and narrow as I feared, but I did feel afraid of the heights at times and slightly car sick at others. Tori thought the entire trip was amazing, although she did fall asleep for awhile. The views were incredible and hopefully we got some good pics.
When we arrived in Ouarzazate, we had the choice of going straight to the hotel or visiting the film studios for a tour. The studio tour was going to happen either today or in a few days on our way back to Marrakesh, so I chose today. It was interesting and cheap, about $25 for all five of us. We saw the sets they used to film the latest King Tut movie, some pieces from The Jewel of the Nile, and more pieces from Kundun, a film about the 14th Dalai Lama. The guide was funny but not too into his job. Theo struck up a conversation with another family on our studio tour. They were from Germany. Later, Theo would tell the girls all about them and hint that he was modeling how to meet new people as we travel.
After the film studio tour, we checked in to our hotel. It was full of other tourists, including a high school group from England. While I took some time to write in the quiet of my room, Theo and Zoe went to the lobby lounge for some WiFi. They chatted with the school group and learned a bit about what was next for us - the camel trek through the sand dunes.