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Long ago, the Kings of Sub-Saharan Africa ruled over modern-day Ghana and Benin. Men from the North would come, and they would purchase these Sub-Saharan Africans and take them back through the Sahara. These slaves, known as the Gnaoua were forced to work in Morocco and elsewhere, but they kept their musical traditions and now their only desire is to spread their music throughout the world. They play healing music, religious music. Music that puts its listeners into a trance, listeners such as 7 Slovakians and an American who have, in some way or another, ended up in the Moroccan desert in need of healing music to stave off sunburn and travelers trots.
They are overwhelmingly photogenic, but their entire village lives off of tourist revenue from their music so it is understandable. But damn, they do look good.
This is our final day in the desert, and we will soon be elsewhere and back to normal life back across the Strait of Gibraltar. We speed through the dust and park in the dirt, walking up a hill of monumental slate stones. They lead up to a single structure, a grave that has stood here for many centuries and has been filled with many souls. Nearby are some petroglyphs, showing the animals that once lived in this lush river valley. The mood is somber, as the souls that once lived here can still be felt centuries after their death. Only the sound of wind fills the air, blowing around the dust of old civilizations.
Now, the greenery has receded and a hoard of German tourists in 4x4s is speeding up the mountain directly next to the grave, rupturing the perfect silence and serenity of this sacred site. It can be hard to find peace in this country, but the peace is oh s o sweet.
Today is likely to be another long driving day, as we race North to the Gargantas del Todra. First, we pass more dust and vastness.
Here, we experience a massive gorge reminiscent of the Martian landscapes of Utah.
We park for the night in the city of Tinghir, staying at the hotel of Juanlu’s Catalunyan friend.
The night comes, and we have our final dinner together. Every night has been spent drinking together and being self-reflective, dealing with the inner linings of the soul and life itself. This has been one of those rare trips without bad feelings or hiccups in its entirety. We sit with our wine which we have carried since the beginning, reflecting on the trip. Morocco has an amazing way to turn a trip of five days and make it feel like a month long trip. Every minute feels like five in Morocco, and this is something I experienced on my first journey as well. There is another long day of driving ahead of us, and we make sure to get enough sleep to prepare.
I love road trips. I love the long highways and the long hours to stare out the window and allow the mind to wander. It was such a privilege just to sit and watch Morocco go by, and this was the best day to do it. We would be returning to Marbella, which meant driving through almost half of Morocco and taking a ferry back to Spain.
So we hit the road, driving by and waving at the wary sheep as we passed.
Juanlu, our guide, has opened all of his favorite places to us. He has been touring around this country for decades, and it has been an extremely humbling privilege to have seen what he has loved in this wonderful country.
The day was a bit of a rush, save a quick souvenir buying stop, but we made it to Tangier late in the night at around 9 pm for a heaping plate of fried calamari and fresh fish to nourish us from the long day drive. We arrive at the ferry station, and Juanlu is quite stressed. Apparently, the Tanger border is a bit different from the Ceuta border, and a bit more intense. We hop out of the van and allow for it to be searched by a gigantic x-ray attached to a truck, and for the dogs to give it a good sniff over. Once this has passed, we relax with some gin and tonics purchased from the duty-free store.
We left Spain quite early in the morning, and we arrived quite early as well. We get to Tarifa to drop of Juanlu and pick up Katka’s car at 2:30, but I was in such a haze of slumber that I did not even notice what was happening. By the time we get to Marbella and to Katka’s house, it is long past four in the morning, and I can not even hold my head up long enough to reminisce about the trip. Morocco may be in the past, but now three days of Spanish sun sit in my future before returning to Denmark. What will fill them, I am unsure.
Thank you for joining me on this amazing tour through the desert of Morocco. It was a beautiful time, and my time in Spain will be just as exotic. Thank you again for reading, and please like and subscribe if you feel the need!