OPEN SESAME, AND OUT INTO THE DESERT

Carnet de voyage Marrakech, Maroc. Jacques Bravo
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Leaving Marrakech

It should even say "the" deserts. Since infinity is always plural in Morocco, abyss of "lands without men", this is the first definition of the word. While these deserts are another form of life, particularly pugnacious. The roads of Dades, Draa and Ziz are all different from each other. Which means you have to go through them all, so come back to them. None is delivered in its entirety in a few days. You have to be gourmet, not greedy. Then only the diffa, permanent, is sumptuous ...

Two passes offer you the option of erasing peaks that exceed four thousand meters: the Tizi N'Test is the Porte du Sous, we just saw it, and going downhill to the south, if you take the Aoulouz road, if you stroll in Taliouine and Taznakht, you will then join Ouarzazate and the laces that descend from Tizi N'Tichka, the other door of the desert. All roads lead to Dadès, the country of roses and so elegant houses, earth sculptures shaped by hand, in adobe or in raw brick.

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In Tameslohte, meeting with an old man in his palace, presenting us some gold coins of a treasure which would be hidden within its walls.

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Tizi N'Tichka

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Tizi N'Tichka

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Tizi N'Tichka

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Tizi N'Tichka

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Tizi N'Tichka

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Tizi N'Tichka

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Tizi N'Tichka

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Tizi N'Tichka

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Tizi N'Tichka

Tizi N'Tichka

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Tizi N'Tichka, towards Telouet

Telouet

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Towards Telouet

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Telouet

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Telouet

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Telouet

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Telouet to Tamdahgt

Tamdaght

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Tamdaght

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Tamdaght.

Ksar et kasbah,sur l’Asif Mellah, un des ensembles les plus impressionnants de la région d’Aït Ben Haddou.

We arrive at Ait Ben Haddou by a good-looking mini scenic railways track, leaping but not breaking.

The terrain is absolutely desert even in this spring, neither more nor less dry or wet than the others before it. The permanent sand wind forces an economic glance, even avaricious, narrowing to the maximum a visual field already attacked by the sharp dazzle of the sun. Until the last moment the qçar is masked by the high right bank "crowned" with modern constructions (say, recent, a small village, on the good accessible side) whose banality which does not go so far as ugliness will make the village old the surprising surprise that we are no longer waiting for.

 
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In 1930, the famous French painter Jacques Majorelle completed the drawing of the "Atlas Kasbahs" and established himself as both the Painter of Marrakech and the Painter of the South. Thanks to his works, the ksour and kasbahs of southern Morocco are beginning to make themselves known.

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Aït Ben Haddou.

The star of the ksars. How can you not keep going back there again and again? There are impressions that never fade, even if the city, on the edge of the Ounila wadi, is the most photographed. Obsessive. I had slept in a small inn on the right bank, still lit by candles, very much in keeping with the perennial charm of the streams flowing down from their Atlas water tower. You never leave the iconic city with your eyes. We always go back, having the impression of having missed I don't know what necessarily essential detail. Standing at 5 o'clock, while the little quinquets of the night, in the dark houses, and the stars, in the sky, go out one after the other. The sun is expected. Then, at 5.30 am, almost to the minute, he bursts in, all-powerful. The light settles in, raw. The change is instantaneous. Once again, the curtain is raised. And the men, still invisible but omnipresent, resume the course of work and days.

 

Ouarzazate

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Ouarzazate

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Fint, 10 km south of Ouarzazate, takes advantage of a little humidity brought into the meander of a tributary of the Draa. The very definition of the altitude oasis at 1100m. Its population is the result of a complex population.

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Tiffoultout

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When the pre-Saharan night falls like a burnous (sellam! Invented here anyway) with this speed which excludes the half-tone charm of the "oceanic" twilight, by chaining without transition to the dazzling stupor of the sun, the disturbing appeasement of at night, Tiffoultout , the first defensive site for the ouarzazate of the big caïds, loses the acid shine of its ocher and melts into a mass all the more formidable as it is less legible: black on Prussian blue. Invisible before the stars or the moon. Perfectly dark hour.

Aggressive, timeless structure, paradoxically enlivened by the disappearance of all picturesque details. At this hour, but only with violent ticking, nothing distinguishes it from a medieval western fortified castle.

A mark of a violent man. Not a haven. A wall which protects but which serves mainly as an area for looters who take control of the region.

The large masses are similar: the strong central dungeon, the long development of the curtain walls which the innumerable recesses of the towers make more complex and mysterious.

Only a weak light bulb, disappointing in its skimpy modernism, retains its cachet at the postern, gaze open to the north, whose colossal door is clad with nails and metal blades like a breastplate. The iron arms, and does not burn ..

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It is in Tifoultout that I would like to return. A village recently overseen (less than a century) by a caidal kasbah which only overcomes and completes this architectural treasure, a living symbol.

Asif Imini brings its freshness, the herds drink there.

Some rooms offer a strictly breathtaking view of the whole region and the birth of the Draa. This is where we can start to understand what we already like. We cannot recommend too much to stroll there at night, when the stars twinkle in the reflections of the river hiding between the rocks.

A small magnifying glass marks the entrance to your new domain, like a lantern, barely stronger than a star in the sky. But so close. You're there ...

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Dancers from M'Goun.

It's a secret place, somewhere in this sumptuous palm grove that scattered ocher and Siena castles in the green-bronze case of palm trees. For the Feast of Roses, they had danced the aouach all afternoon, in the heat without remission of this late spring. At break time, they had taken refuge in the tent to find themselves without looking at them; I did not count, they could say everything since I did not understand anything. Tired but so young that they found resources to "recover": confidences, crystal clear laughter. Since I was alone, how could I not believe myself in a harem, in a tale.

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Majorelle in 1930 realized "the exit of Pacha" in Taourirt

70 years later, not much has changed, a tree has grown

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