Saturday, 20 August 2016

Exodus - Mount Toubkal climb trip - Day 6 - the village where Hassan lives

After the effort and the emotional high of Toubkal, day 6 was a much needed calm down. Staying in Hassan's village and experiencing a hammam and drinking mint tea.


Relaxed start today. Packed our stuff. Ate our breakfast. Goodbye Toubkal Lodge. Off we set down the valley towards Hassan’s village. Only a 4 hour walk today but it was hotter as we headed further down. We passed pictorial signs telling us not to mine or fish or pick flowers.

Two of the women had been up all night sick with a bad stomach. 
My smallest toes had turned into blisters instead of toes, but weren’t painful. My swollen hands were bothering me though. My rings were digging in and it felt really weird.

We passed a few little shops along the mountain path. We saw a sad trussed up goat lying in the hot sun :( 

We had a long rest at a little café in the shade and I paid to use the loo. Yay, a private wee.
More walking down the valley, passing a mountain mosque. The path became less scree and more road like. What a treat!

We walked over big dry rocky fields as we headed into the village and past a big orchard of young apples trees.

When we arrived at the gite, I think we were all pleasantly surprised by how lovely it was. We had all expected something much more basic. It was basic but it was beautiful and felt so luxurious after 4 nights of camping. 

There was a big outdoor terrace, half filled with long tables and chairs, half open and strung with washing lines. And pots of plants dotted around.

We had lunch straight away and it was glorious. And ended with the amazing melon. I ate all the melon I could get.

Then we tipped the mule guy team and lots of handshaking happened. They were so awesome, putting up and taking down our tents, cooking and cleaning and carrying our stuff.

We sorted ourselves into our rooms – 3 guys in the first room, 3 guys in the next room, and the 4 women in the best and prettiest room. Our room was beautifully tiled with patterned tiles on the lower half and painted pink at the top. And frosted patterned windows. Yay.

We relaxed and chatted in our rooms for a bit before heading to the village. Except the two ill women who felt too ill and stayed behind to sleep. 

The rest of us went to try a hammam. The guys got to go first because a man was already in there, so Emma-Jayne and I were left sitting outside the hammam in the street talking while millions of flies buzzed at us and an adorable child pestered us.

Eventually, it was our turn and we went in. We hung our bags and stripped to our bikini bottoms and sat on the tiled floor. A lady threw water on us, then rubbed us with black soap, then scrubbed us with a scrubby mitten, then washed our hair. We sat in a steamy room for a bit. Then had more water chucked on us. Then it was over. It was quite odd, mostly because no one spoke English and I wasn’t sure what to do. It was quite nice though and I felt very clean despite lying almost naked on a dirty looking floor. 

Getting dressed, I realised I’d screwed up my underwear situation. I brought Stu’s massive boxers to wear under my leggings. And I never intended to put a bra back on. So I was totally underwear free, which made me nervous at first, then felt awesomely comfortable (though I didn’t stop feeling slightly conscious of it so it’s not for every day). I've since realised that the top I was wearing is slightly sheer and I wonder if everyone was too polite to mention that they could see through my top. Maybe they couldn't, maybe it depends on the light. I often forget some item of clean underwear to wear after showering at the gym and have to go without but that's just a quick journey from A to B!

We came out and Hassan’s daughter led us to his house for tea. Hassan’s house is beautiful, patterned tiles, lovely furniture. We had mint tea and some sort of Moroccan doughnut in a very sociable room lined in seating with lots of little tables. Hassan didn’t sit with us but I guess he was eager to see his family privately for a bit or just not be around us for a bit!

We heard it pour with rain and when it was done we headed back to the gite. I was walking very carefully down the steep, wet, stony village streets as I was wearing flip flops (did not want to wear hiking boots for a minute more that day) but I didn’t fall, just got muddy feet.
An enormous toad hopped across our path! Yay!

Back at the gite, we hung our wet hammam things on the washing line to dry. And dinner was the best! The meat eaters had a meatball tagine thing. Me and Emma-Jayne had the same but with big tomato halves instead of meatballs. SO GOOD. Mmmm flavours.

After dinner, I went to sit on the wall to look at the moon and the sky and the silhouette of the mountains. So beautiful and peaceful. Hobs joined me, and showed me constellations (one like an ice cream) and told me he wanted to photograph the stars but the moon was too bright. We took some fun photos with his fancy camera though. 

I was the last of the girls to go to bed so I had to sneak into the room around 11:30. Luckily I didn’t need to change because, no underwear, and my clothes felt like pyjamas.

Do you ever skip underwear by choice/necessity. Are you comfortable with being naked?

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