September 30, 2012
Saying Good Bye


September 15, 2012
Reflections on Our 27 Year Circumnavigation


September 01, 2012
Sea of Cortez Sailing


August 15, 2012
Back to the Sea of Cortez


August 01, 2012
After Circumnavigation: What to Take, What to Leave Behind


July 15, 2012
Mexican Booby Trap


July 01, 2012
Tackling the Tehuantepec


June 14, 2012
Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico


June 01, 2012
Sailing northern Costa Rica and Nicargua


May 15, 2012
Costa Rican Cruising


May 01, 2012
New Found Friends in Golfito, Costa Rica


April 15, 2012
It’s a Jungle Out There


April 01, 2012
Hunting and Gathering in Panama


March 15, 2012
Money.... Money.... Money


March 01, 2012
Feel Free Transits the Panama Canal


February 15, 2012
Transiting the Panama Canal


February 01, 2012
Feel Free is Back in the Pacific


January 15, 2012
Charter Skipper for a Week


January 01, 2012
Confessions of a Charter Cat Chef


December 15, 2011
Away to the Andamans Part 2


December 01, 2011
AWAY to the ANDAMANs


November 15, 2011
Sailing in a Freshwater Paradise


November 01, 2011
To Barf or not to Barf, that is the question


October 14, 2011
Remarkable Cruisers


October 03, 2011
The Sea of Cortez, Another World


September 15, 2011
Panama Canal Here We Come


September 01, 2011
Sailing for Humanity


August 15, 2011
A Hard Lesson on the Hard and Reflections on Boat Work


August 01, 2011
Here Come the Lion Fish


July 15, 2011
The Joy of Books


July 01, 2011
The Sailors of San Blas


June 15, 2011
The Good Life in Kuna Yala


June 01, 2011
The Dirt Dweller in Paradise


May 15, 2011
People of the San Blas, Then and Now


May 01, 2011
Cruising in Kuna Yala


April 15, 2011
Near Disaster in the San Blas


April 01, 2011
At Last in the San Blas


March 15, 2011
Chilling Out in Cholon


March 01, 2011
Ah, Cartagena!


February 15, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 2


February 01, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 1


January 14, 2011
Aruban Interlude


December 30, 2010
Hunkering Down for a Hurricane


December 15, 2010
A Day in the Life - Our Passage to Aruba


December 01, 2010
Stuck in Curacao


November 15, 2010
Stormy Night Sailing


November 01, 2010
Sailing In The Sticks


October 15, 2010
Safety, Security and Circumnavigating with some tips on how to stay safe


October 04, 2010
Feel Free Transits The Suez Canal


September 15, 2010
Red Sea Sailing


September 01, 2010
FEEL FREEs Voyage Into the Red Sea


August 15, 2010
And just a little further, to Curacao


August 01, 2010
Bonaire Diving


July 15, 2010
Then To Bonaire


July 01, 2010
Cruising Remote Venezuelan Isles


June 15, 2010
Cruising St. Vincent


June 01, 2010
Right Place, Right Time


May 15, 2010
The Spice Isle


May 01, 2010
To the Grenadines


April 15, 2010
We Be In Barbados Mon


April 01, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part II


March 15, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part 1


March 01, 2010
Provisioning for the Atlantic Crossing


February 15, 2010
Atlantic Crossing Preparations


February 01, 2010
Cruising the Canary Islands


January 15, 2010
Out Of Africa


January 01, 2010
Come With Me To The High Atlas Mountains.............


December 15, 2009
Two Years Of Mediterranean Sailing


December 01, 2009
Moving On To Morocco


November 18, 2009
Leaving The Med


November 13, 2009
Reaching The Rock Of Gibraltar Milestone


October 15, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del Sol


October 01, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del High-rise


September 15, 2009
Sailing The Spanish Isles


September 01, 2009
At Sea Or On The Hook, These Recipes Travel Well


August 15, 2009
An Interlude At Menorca


August 01, 2009
A Pleasant Passage To Menorca


July 15, 2009
The Agony And Ecstasy Of The Tunisian Coast


July 01, 2009
Tripping Around Tunisia


June 15, 2009
Tales From North Africa


June 01, 2009
Dont Freak If Your Fridge Fails


May 15, 2009
Into Africa


May 01, 2009
Meandering Around Malta, Then Off To Tunisia


April 15, 2009
Low-Tech DIY Ideas For The New Economy


April 01, 2009
The Med Set A Few Cruiser Profiles


March 15, 2009
That Sinking Feeling


March 01, 2009
Thailand to Oman: Three Passages, Three Ports


February 15, 2009
Doing Hard Time in Malta


February 01, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 2


January 15, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 1


January 02, 2009
So Many Islands, So Little Time


December 15, 2008
Cruising With The Bear


December 01, 2008
Versatile Vinegar, The Boaters Friend


November 15, 2008
What I Did In This Summer -- Dock Masters In paradise


November 01, 2008
Over The Top Of Oz


October 16, 2008
The Tumultuous Tasman


October 01, 2008
Sweet Memories Of The Splendid Surins


September 15, 2008
And Then We Were In Malta


September 01, 2008
Feel Frees Siracusan Story


August 15, 2008
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times


August 01, 2008
All Tied Up In The Ionians


July 15, 2008
A Greek Odyssey Our Journey to Ithaca


July 01, 2008
Anatomy of a Near Catastrophe


June 15, 2008
Good-bye Turkey, Hello Greece


June 01, 2008
More Winter Cruising in Turkey


May 15, 2008
Winter Cruising in Turkey


April 15, 2008
Talking Turkey: Marmaris Marina Living


April 15, 2008
The Joy Of The Side Trip


April 01, 2008
Return to Marmaris, And The Budget


March 15, 2008
Passing Time And Dodging The Meltemi


March 01, 2008
Home Sweet Home


February 15, 2008
A Little Working, A Little Cruising


February 01, 2008
Working Our Way Around The World


January 15, 2008
Welcome Aboard Feel Free


January 01, 2008
Liz Tosonis and Tom Morkins Feel Free


January 01, 2008
About Tom Morkin and Liz Tosoni


January 01, 2008
About Feel Free


January 01, 2008
Voyage Itinerary


January 01, 2010
Come With Me To The High Atlas Mountains.............

By Liz Tosoni

 
To Moroccan locals, the medina is the market, it’s where everything under the sun can be bought, where you can find a translator, a typist to type a document, a house painter, a camel steak, a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or a cup of mint tea; it’s just a part of quotidian existence.

To the traveler though, it’s pure exotica; the sights, sounds, smells and tastes, a savory, sensory happening. In the background, five times a day, is the sonorous sound of the muezzin call to prayer, in the souks and medinas, colorful pyramids of herbs, spices and dried fruit, conical pots of aromatic tajines, delectable pastries, hanging chickens, camel heads and sides of beef, finely woven carpets and fabrics, glittering brass and silverware, soft leather products, elegant traditional clothing and slippers, all juxtaposed one against the other, seemingly haphazardly.

 

 

 
Especially on festive occasions, Moroccan women love to have their feet and hands decorated with floral designs, in henna, and I was lured too.

Bouregreg Marina was our little sanctuary while in Sale, Rabat’s twin city. Outside was the traffic noise, pollution, the hustle and bustle of city life, the Kasbah, the medinas, the souks, all very fascinating but fatiguing too. We yearned for some clean mountain air, so six yachties, Steve and Eva of Music, GB and Sarah of Djarrka, and Tom and I, set out at 0530 on the Marrakesh Express, bound for a four day a trek in the high Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

Just outside the train station in Marrakesh, the famous Moroccan touts immediately gravitated toward us. We knew our next destination to be Imlil, the base for our trek into the mountains and we knew that we needed to find the bus station, Bab Rob, about a mile from the station. “You must take grand taxi. No problem. Only 300 dirham” said our tout. (300 dirham is about $37.) We asked how far away it was. “Very far, 15 km. You need a taxi. It’s no problem, I have a taxi for you.” We had a map from the Lonely Planet Guide book so we said thank you but no thank you and carried on, eventually finding our way to the bus station by foot. No problem. A local bus fit us all, squished in like so many sardines, and took us to Asni, a two hour drive, and our first Berber village with houses of red earth stacked in clusters around the green valley, the souk buzzing with business, the people in hooded gowns, pointed cowls. Then, a taxi, an old Mercedes, two more hours driving, and we were in Imlil where mules are the main form of transport and “gites” are the places of rest, very basic but clean with mattresses, blankets, showers and meals provided.

Once settled in our gite, “Café Aksoual”, it sunk in, we’d been transported to another world.

Around every bend and turn was a picture-perfect panoramic vista. Our muscles ached but we didn’t care; we stopped a lot and soaked in the splendid scenery. It took about 7 hours to cover about 7 miles, very slow going with our sailor legs, to arrive at our first overnight stop on the trail in Ourenskra. We stayed at “Gite Diame Treck” (7,150 ft.), a utilitarian place with a lovely view and nice host family, paying 270 dirham (about $33) for the two of us for room, showers, dinner of hearty tajine (Moroccan dish of vegetables, potatoes, and lamb or chicken all simmered together in a clay pot) and breakfast of pancakes with honey.

Day two, a half hour uphill, huffing and puffing in the early morning, and we were in Tacheddirt.

After Tacheddirt, it was a long, slow, steep trek to the pass, Tizi Tacheddirt, (10,400 feet) which took us about three hours to cover, up, up and up with more fantastic views all the way, then down, down, and down some more, another three or four hours.


At the pass, a blind man sells cokes and fantas. He trudges up to the pass pushing his old grey mare, to sell his refreshments, every day. He told us that he has to make money for medicine since he can’t work because of his eyes. Those cokes were mighty refreshing after that long climb!

In Timichi, dead tired, we stayed at “Gite d’Iteape”, the first gite you come to, the owner a friendly and welcoming gentleman, Brahim Oussalem.

 

 

 

Day three is a gentler walk (about five hours), more gradually sloping, through terraced valleys, by cascading waterfalls and ancient gnarled walnut trees, to the pretty town of Setti Fatma, on the river, where tourists (and touts) abound . It’s no wonder as you can hike to 7 waterfalls from this lovely spot.

At the gite, there’s a sorry excuse for a shower and a walk downstairs to the shared toilet, but the tajine is tasty and plentiful, or, if you choose, you can have cous cous, which also looked delicious.

After a short rest, we took a stroll through the town on the river, and found it to be abuzz with activity: walnuts being processed, fruit from the nopale cactus being collected, mules being cared for and tended to, stores being put away, walkways being repaired.

 

 

 

From Setti Fatma, we made our way by taxi back to the big city of Marrakesh with its opulent buildings and dazzling market.

 We’d had a short but sweet trip to the interior of Morocco. Muscles were sore, minds stimulated. We had our fix of cool, clean mountain air and fresh perspectives, but Feel Free was waiting for us back in Sale.