Sadly, we have to leave our little Moroccan paradise to actually get on our bikes and peddle on. But wait, no we don’t! Yes, we’re spared the prospect of cycling in freezing temps because we have to take the van to our next take-off spot, because there are no good non-trafficky roads that would get us there.
And as we’re driving, this is where we get into goats-in-trees territory. Or as I like to call it, GoatSpitLand. All you folks out there using argan oil on your hair? Though the marketing geniuses in the US refer to it rather obliquely as “Moroccan oil”? Yeah, that’s basically goat spit. No really.
You see, argan trees only grow in two areas of the world, the only the ones in Morocco bear this little fruit. That the goats climb into the trees to munch on, after which they spit out the little hull. That hull is then opened and the nugget inside is ground up into argan oil, used for cosmetics, soap, cooking, etc.
So yes, basically goat spit.
The tragedy of the day is that as I’m walking to get an up close shot of the goats happily climbing their trees, I drop my camera and it goes ptooeey. I am very sad – until I remember my brilliance in recently upgrading from my big bulky phone that was large enough to also make toast – to a smartphone! With picture-taking capabilities! Saved!
We finally get on our bikes to go up more damn mountains, and at some point……we lose Stacey. Our resident mountain goats Khaleed and Sayeed set out to look for her, and it turns out she’s gone off-roading. Literally. Because she and Sharon and Ely made a wrong turn, and Stacey in her competitive fervor had to pass Sharon and Ely, so that when Sharon realized they were going in the wrong direction (the gravel road was a giveaway), Stacey was too far ahead to call out to.
Note to self: there is great wisdom in being slow.
We get to our next town, where whee, it’s time to do some shopping! This is replete with hilarity, of course. The triumvirate of fun:
- Stacey attempts to speak French with a guy at the market selling spices and Morrocan treats like sesame balls. Him to her: “Your French is really terrible you know.” Oops.
- Stacey and I at the argan oil co-op, where we’re both buying some face cream. There are 2 types, and we have no idea what’s what. The lady explains to us:
Argan oil lady: This one is for people before they have wrinkles, to prevent them, this other one is after you already have wrinkles.
Me: Oh, okay, so which one should I use?
AOL, after inspecting my face: Before wrinkles.
Stacey: Which one should I use then?
AOL, also peering at Stacey’s face: Oh, after wrinkles, definitely.
I guess around here they really don’t believe in soft-pedaling the customer, eh?
- Then there’s the spice purveyor from whom I want to buy saffron and some raisins. He measures it all out, and then uses a little calculator to get the total price. As soon as I see it I know something’s wrong, because the price is lower than what just the saffron will cost. I shake my head at him, he calculates again. Again wrong. I shrug and figure hey, I might as well save some money on this wizened old spice seller, right? Nah. I keep insisting that the price is wrong – and then I finally realize, as he’s punching the numbers in, that he’s only inputting 4 grams of saffron instead of 5. Aha! Apparently this is the first time ever in the history of Morocco that anyone has ever wanted to pay MORE for something, so his astonishment and gratitude is something to behold. I think I got a family of pygmy goats, a son in marriage, and eternal good wishes bestowed on me, but I’m not too clear on that.
The next day is a rest day, or perhaps I should say “rest” day. Because off we go on a cheeky little jaunt to see some famous blue rocks, and said jaunt turns out to be more of a 6 mile trek. Said blue rocks turn out to NOT be the gently hued rocks I was expecting, magically looking a shade of dusky blue by some particularly odd angle of the sun. No, they’re actual blue rocks, painted at some point in the 70s by some wacky Dutchman, that have now become a weird tourist attraction. We arrive at the starting point to see what was a New Years rock concert, still in action. Morockapalooza? Apparently so, as there are trailers and camping equipment and a lot of hippie-looking dancing people. Odd.
On our way back I become the cliché of the person buying rugs in Morocco, as I stop off at the rug emporium with David and Mark. Since I suck at negotiating (sorry Wharton), I’m sure I vastly overpay, but I do wind up with some lovely rugs for me and my mom at a reasonable price, so how can I complain?
That evening we’re told that the next day’s climbs and descents will be epic – or “cheeky” as Sayeed likes to put it. Wait, what? I thought we already did that. Well, shit.