Today our drive took us from Ait Ben Haddou to Marrakesh crossing through the Atlas Mountains. The Atlas Mountain range stretches 2 500 km through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. According to Waze (Morrocan equivalent to Google maps) the drive should have been 3 1/2 hours, however it seems the road is receiving a much needed major upgrade and added an hour or so to the trip.
The drive through the mountain range is spectacular, each twist and turn brings more beautiful mountains-capes into view with varying colours from cream, green, beige, oranges and reds.
Ava had been hoping for snow for our entire 8 week trip and was very excited today when we reached the mountain peak to see a very small amount of icy snow on the ground. Unfortunately she was so young when we lived in Colorado that she doesn’t remember the snow. She did manage to scrap enough snow to throw at the car.
During the drive we passed many shepherds with either goats, sheep or both on the mountains. What we hadn’t seen before were people selling Geodes. Geodes are basically rocks of differing colours that have a hollow space inside that is not completely filled with minerals. The minerals filled or partially filled the cavity with inward growth in various colours. Geodes are collected from the land surface, dug from the soil and found in stream beds.
We saw various roadside stalls selling these geodes split in two and it looked interesting but we didn’t stop. Then as we passed a sheep herder he held up a rock and split it enough showing a brilliant reddish colour inside and I was then curious. As we came down the otherside of the mountain we passed one guy with 8 – 10 rocks and we pulled over. Max, Ava and I had a look and I eventually bought a amethyst geode, it looks amazing. We no sooner turned another corner and there was another guy with larger ones, so we had a look and I bought a bright red/pink geode and Max a silver one. We passed a few more but didn’t stop. I did that I kept opening mine for another look, I’m very happy with my purchase, now I just have to get it home in one piece.
We finally arrived in Marrakesh where Andrew dropped us near the riad, while he returned the car. I think Andrew was very relieved to return the car, having driven 1 900 km in the past 12 days. I’m certainly glad it was him driving through the streets of Marrakesh and Fez with people, bikes, motorbikes, tuk tuks and cars coming from every direction or over the mountain ranges overtaking trucks and cars with little visibility. As always he did a great job.