Travel Journal

Imichil - Seven Brides for . . .

(Wednesday 13 October 2010) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 50-51 – 9/23-24/10 Imichil
Well the trip didn’t get off to a good start. At the bus station, the clerk after we got a translator said there wasn’t a seven o’clock bus despite telling an interpreter the previous day there was one. Now we weren’t sure when there would be a bus to our next stop. Fortunately the national bus line had a counter there with a clerk that was fluent in English got us tickets to our first stop on a bus that left at eight although we had to catch a taxi to another bus station. It was a four hour bus ride before we reached the next stop Kasaba-Tadle. The Grand Taxi stand was across the street and we asked how much to go directly to Imichil and were quoted 420 DH which we thought was high so we got a ride to the second stop El Ksiba for 60 DH which was about 1/2 hour away.
Arriving there, we could not find the bus that Lonely Planet book suggested for the third leg. Talking to the locals we were told different stories as to where the bus station was and whether there was a bus at all so we walked around town quite a bit with full backpacks. Grand Taxis there were quoting 500 DH for the trip and a guy in a pickup truck offered to take us down for a thousand DH … each! Passing by a local store we heard some young men crying out “Imichil?” Julie did the talking and found there was 4 guys also trying to get to Imichil.
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We let them do all the bargaining and they secured a ride for 60 DH each. There were nine riders and the driver crammed into a station wagon this is also with our supplies. Julie and I got the front seat with the driver; there were 4 in the back seat and 3 in the back with the backpacks. After several stops including one for water as the water pump only worked occasionally, we started our four hour ride to the town. The journey into the Atlas mountain and then down into the valley that Imichil lied, was rough but very scenic with terrific view down into the valley.
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We bonded with the fab four and especially with Yassine as he spoke the best English and, once we arrived in town, he called his dad to help found us lodging as the town was full of visitors.
Unfortunately we were stuck with a horrible hotel as an only choice. We had to pay 300 DH a night for a moldy room with a horrible stench and small bathroom with a dribble of cold water. We could tell the room would be bad before we even saw it as the owner was promising to move us to another room the following night. Oh well, we didn’t really have a choice although in hindsight we would have been better off camping with Yassine in their spare tent in the yard next door!
Julie was really taken by a crepe they make in Morocco and we watched as a lady made one fresh by hand. That and some nearly raw chicken was our dinner that night. We gagged ourselves to sleep after getting the fab four to help us get to the festival the next day.
We left our bags with the owner who was taking a group himself to the festival and he did give us a free breakfast to try and make up for no hot water the previous night. We met up with the boys who got us a ride in a truck for 10 DH each to the festival site about 20 kilometers away. The gathering was huge; I’d guess there were easily a thousand people there. There was not a lot of western tourist there, I only saw maybe twenty, but I’m sure there were a lot of Moroccan tourists. The festival had really turned into a market rather than a meeting place for potential engagements. I suppose that it would be expected as commercialism has a life of its own and latches on to favorable conditions and actually it gives the women something to do while scoping out the potential mates. Essentially the women are in charge and make the first move talking to men. If the meeting goes on well, the man is brought to the woman’s family. If that goes okay, then the woman visits the man’s family. If there are still no objections, a contract is drawn up and an engagement is forged. The women dress up in the Berber finest while the men just wear normal clothes. It’s alright to take photos of the women but I felt a bit strange doing so I only have a couple.
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There is quite a bit of livestock trading hands. Horses, donkeys and camels are the notable examples. Trucks were frequently leaving the grounds as the animals were sold. Fortunately we got a ride back sans livestock.
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The boys were hiking to a lake to cook some food and asked us along. We decided to get something to eat first and had a delicious tanjine style stew and moved our bags to the new hotel room which really wasn’t much better. It was quite a walk to the lake and the boys proceeded to make pasta which was pasta, salt and water from the lake. I excused myself from sampling the food and Julie had a bite or two to be polite, but the boys really dug into it.
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There was a show going on in the town but we were so tired we waited until eight and when it hadn’t started went to bed. The next morning was our long journey back to Europe so we got as much sleep as we could.
I think the real enjoyment of the trip was not the actual festival itself. It was the actually the journey to Imichil and meeting the fab four. It is very satisfying know that we were able to get there with a bit of persistence and patients. Also, meeting the fab four reaffirmed our favorable opinion of Moroccans after the incident in Marrakesh.
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