The Waterfall of Olives

There is a place in Morocco so magical that it exists only in the realm of the 10th Kingdom. It's a place that perhaps should only be visited once, so that the memories remain powerful. This past break me and some of the teachers I'm closest to went out to Shalalat d'Ouzoud, the Olive Waterfalls (in Arabic and Berber).

After a long drive in the cab with Amanda, Lauren, Melissa, and Karen, in which I made some rather stupid social gaffs mistakenly thinking again that American television presents normative cultural guidelines, we finally arrived at the Falls.
There are three hotels there. The first is very dingy and very cheap. The last is over looking the falls, and is very expensive. The middle is just right, and only about 150 dirhams a night, and right above an open air coffee house where you can relax with shisha on Berber rugs and froshes.
Nearly as soon as we arrived we went to check out the falls. It's down a windy, slippery slope, past many shops selling tourist items like specially designed walking sticks. Shalalat d'Ouzoud is touristy, but it's one of those rare places where that's okay. There is such beauty there, something in the air, that can't be destroyed.
At the bottom you have the option to bathe in the falls, or wide a raft 20 feet across the river. We took the raft.

I wanted to see the Barbary Macaques around the falls, so we hiked below. No primates- that will have to wait for another day. But did get to swim in the river- which is a bigger deal than you might think- there aren't a lot of year-round flowing rivers that are all that clean in Morocco. Especially not around Casa. Swimming fresh water is a premium.

There are difficulties in traveling with all women in Morocco. Lots of guys coming up to me asking me for permission to marry the women for instance. The women got tired of hearing about it. I got tired of having to shoo the guys away by myself. It took a lot of effort, and felt kind of lonely.
But the greatest difficulty is the surge in male ego. Doesn't matter if you're not interested in the women, if you're the only guy around, you have to impress them. Doesn't matter if what you do wouldn't in the slightest impress them. You still do it.
And so I ended up running up that same winding walk in the middle of the night. Except it was wet with dew. And so I slipped. And twisted my ankle something fierce- same one I broke that caused me to come here to Morocco. It was very impressive as I hopped up the rest of the way, having to be supported on the shoulders of one of the women. Karen, being the sports medicine type, knew how to care for the injury. But then came the age-old anthropological conflict. Do you respect the culture, or one's health? Turns out Berber medicine mandates heat for an injury, and an elderly Berber women came out, a folk practitioner, to care for my leg. She was very generous and kind in applying the heat. But I didn't think it was the medically right thing to do. But I wanted to respect the culture as well, and not to insult. I compromised with the application of both heat and cold. (And later found out I'd fractured the bone again.)
We left the falls with me on three legs, like the riddle of the Sphinx. Bought one of those special Berber tourist canes. And on the way to Tabant. I heard about this amazing place in Lonely Planet, where there are these gits, primitive hotels where you sleep on mats on the floor and enjoy excellent home-prepared meals. The views here are amazing as well, underneath the white of the mountain, in huts of mud.

We took the opportunity to ride donkeys, and I so know now that Mary didn't ride a donkey right after giving birth. Don't get me wrong- better than a camel. But still quite a jolt. I tried to ride without the bit, as they still use those in Morocco, and it's not kind to the animal. But much harder to move the donkey in the right direction without it, as they don't have the normal bridle there that functions in place of the bit. It's a shame, since the donkey is so abused in this country. In fact it's become the symbol of the national animal protection society.

The gits were a bit more rustic than everyone was expecting, so we moved on to Marraksh, to see the Menara pool and gardens. It was there that I discovered the secret to getting rid of unwanted men, when I was walking dutifully 40 feet behind the women, and a Moroccan guy came up to me.
"Maweej?" he said.
"Huh?" I didn't know this Arabic word. But I'd only begun to learn the language.
"Maweej?" he asked again. Still didn't understand him. So he switched to Arabic.
"Zowij?" pointing to the four women. Ah! Now I understood. He was again, proposing marriage. And that's when I hit on it. Really, rather inspiration from on high.
"La. Huma tazowigu l' 'iissa." They're all married to Jesus.
"Ah," he said, and left with no more trouble.

Except later I learned that Jesus is an occasional name for strict Muslim guys.


quaintance said…
All those cactuss are imported from the Americas.

I don't remember seeing this entry before, or hearing about the sprain/fracture...
@bdul muHib said…
Probably true. But still pretty. Intrigingly there's a convergent evolution to fill the same niche, with a family of plants that mimics quite closely the true cactus. Sad though how the invasive species has spread all over Morocco. Happy for the few Latinos there who can make up some good Latin cactus quisine.

As you can see from the date, I posted this post about three years ago, so you might have missed it. There were also some older posts before and after this, the earliest when started blogging back in '71.

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