cerebral museum

The Todra Gorge, Morocco

Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on February 26, 2010

After a day of driving and sightseeing, I arrived in Todra. I had just fallen asleep, jolted awake by the van door opening. I grabbed my bag, found my glasses. The sky was incredible. It was pitch black save for the one light on the front of the riad, and the sliver of sky visible through the top of the gorge, which was absolutely full of the most stars I’ve seen since I was in the high desert.

The Todra Gorge, Morocco

In between the riad and us was a rather large river, which we crossed on two 2×4 planks, one for each foot?

bedside lamp

The only electricity at the place was run by a generator which thankfully the didn’t run at night. Had a fantastic lemon potato tagine, some tea, and hit the hay. By far the coldest place I stayed in Morocco… there were 3 camel hair blankets on the bed and I still probably could’ve used another one.

The next day, I walked around a bit and when I got back to have breakfast, met a berber guy who offered to show us around a bit, a walking tour type of thing. We agreed, and he took us to see the local family farm plots, how their irrigation system works, old olive presses, and a berber women’s weaving collective. It was awesome, the guy was really knowledgeable (in both english and spanish) and just wanted some folks to talk to and introduce around.

berber farmland

The coat he’s wearing above is called a djellaba. It’s like a thick long sleeved dress with a pointy hood. Pretty much everyone in Morocco wears them, save the young folks in the cities.

abandoned Jewish neighborhood, now inhabited by berbers

handwoven Berber bags

If I were to buy a Moroccan rug, it’d definitely be from this place. This time around, I don’t have the space nor the 50€ to drop on one of these babies, though that’s a damn steal. Someday..

They’re all handmade on horizontal looms, each rug a unique design that the woman creates with no prior sketching. You can see the henna on her hands in the photo above, the berber women wear it constantly on their palms because the camel and sheep hair dry the skin over time. They had us try out the wool-pulling paddles and when I passed it to the guy next to me, all of the locals yelled at him and wouldn’t let him do it. “It’s a woman’s job,” they say. Even in the hippie-like organic arts collective, strict gender roles are still very much a part of the culture.

Headed back to the gorges after that. Snapped this one below on the road quickly.. never did get a close up of these trucks. All of the industrial trucks I passed on the road were crazily decorated with bright patterns and colors.

A few shots of the gorge itself:

hard to translate the magnitude, but that's a man standing in the bottom there, and the road I drove in on

There are tons of rock climbing routes in and around the gorge. I really want to come back someday and so some climbing here.

berber graffiti. the ‡ looking symbol means 'berber.'

The rock looks crumbly but in fact it’s super tough. The guy I met (never caught his name) is really into climbing, he pointed out tons of routes all over the place.

widened section of stream, partially fed by a natural spring.

oasis!

So so beautiful. I could have spent weeks here. Someday hopefully I will.

Ciao, man! this guy was so awesome.

After the day in Todra, I continued South to Merzouga and Erg Chebbi. Wound up spending the night in a berber tent made of rugs in the middle of the dunes 50km north of the Algerian border… that’s up next.

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