Change of plans...We're back in Marrakech...A story to tell...More photos from the Atlas Mountains...

The renowned Kasbah, Kasbah Aït Ben Haddo, located in Dades Valley in the Atlas Mountains.
We're back in Marrakech one day early.  That's what we chose when we decided to travel the world, the ability to changes our plans without apologies, without rationalizations and without devising flimsy excuses.

We're only accountable to ourselves as a unit of two loving, committed individuals whose utmost concern is the happiness of one another. Our own pleasure is derived unselfishly from the joy we observe in the other, making each and every experience worthwhile, even if it isn't 100% to our own liking.

In order to get to the above Kasbah, we had to navigate across two creeks stepping on these muslin covered rocks.  I must say, the distance between each step was about as far as my legs could reach.  Luckily, we made it both ways without getting our shoes wet.

 The second creek we had to navigate to get to the kasbah.
For this reason we ended our road trip halfway through.  No camel ride in the Sahara Desert. No second night in a hotel.  We stayed true to ourselves and to each other.

Our readers may ask, "Which of the two of you wanted to end the trip early?"
Once we arrived at the Kasbah after a steep downhill climb over uneven rocks and making our way across the two creeks, we were told a movie was in production and we wouldn't be allowed to take photos.  No photos?  We left amid the trucks and confusing making the return walk across the two creeks and a lengthy uphill climb back to Mohamed's vehicle.

We were disappointed to be unable to see the interior of this fortress like structure.
In our minds, that doesn't matter.  If one of us is not having a good time, the other wants nothing more than the return of the other's usual sense of well being and contentment.  In this case, it meant returning to Dar Aicha, our riad in Marrakech.
Our last look at the Kasbah Ait Ben Hado before we continued on our way.
Some may say this is condescending and patronizing.  For us, it's about being happy, letting nothing short of one of life's unforeseen tragedies, to impose upon that blissful state of being.

What didn't we like about this prearranged all inclusive trip to the Atlas Mountains, ending with a trip to the Sahara Desert, that we decided to cut short?
The drive through the mountains was treacherous with endless hairpin turns on the two lane road with the necessity of passing slow moving vehicles.  On the seven hour return drive today, I actually got carsick for the first time in many years.
Oh, we could place blame on the rock hard bed and pillows on which neither of us slept a wink.  We could blame it on the beef dinner with meat too hard to chew requiring that every six bites we had to spit out a tangled glob of a sinewy mess into our paper napkins.

We could blame it on the tiny room, a supposed "upgrade" where the towels and sheets were mismatched and threadbare, the toilet paper unperforated (never saw this before), the toilet leaking and the minuscule bar of soap that refused to lather.  Or, we could blame it on the banging drums that started at 10:45 to entertain the busloads of overnight guests, while us old timers thrashed about trying to fall asleep. 
The rock formations varied throughout the area from a dull grey such as this to some of the most vibrant colors we've seen since our Blyde River Canyon trip in South Africa three months ago.
In reality, if blame were required and it is not, we can only blame ourselves for these reasons:
1.  Our expectations and frame of reference.
2.  Our unwillingness to spend what would prove to be almost US $1000, MAD $8133, (including tips and beverages) for two nights in hotels and three days on the road and feel forced to continue on, only compounding the angst of this expenditure.
Check out the shepherding dog in the center of this photo. We saw sheep grazing on many different elevations as we traveled.
Why not "stick it out?" Because we don't have to.  That's the magic of being a grown up in charge of one's own destiny.

In our old lives, we may have considered "What will "people" say?"
We were headed to the popular tourist site of the modern village of Ouarzazate (pronounced, wer-ziz-zate). 
In this life, with thousands of people worldwide with whom we're sharing our story, depicting our daily comings and goings, we decided long ago that many will accept our decisions and many will not.  It goes with the territory. 

But, above all,  we chose to "tell it like it is" to the best of our ability without hurting anyone or their business by our own occasional displeasure.
 Ouarzazate would be an excellent place to stay for many tourists for a vacation/holiday with its many modern shopping centers, restaurants and arts and cultural centres.
What did we like about the last day and a half?  Our excellent and thoughtful driver, Mohamed...perfection.  The river view from the hotel and our room...lovely.  The hotel concierge, Rashid...helpful and kind.  The Atlas Mountains and surrounding villages...interesting and scenic but, not eliciting the awe and wonder of many of our adventures in the past almost 16 months since we left the US.

Yeah, we're "Hooked on a Feeling" (click link for the song from 1968). Our past amazing past experiences surely have spoiled us, a hard act to follow for future experiences. After Petra, the exciting cruise through the Middle East, the Masai Mara and Marloth Park, we knew we ran this risk. 
These swirling rock formations most likely formed million of years ago, made one think these striations were a result of water.
Today, when we returned to the Medina, Adil was waiting for us to help with our bags.  When we entered the riad, Madame Zahra and Oumaima were awaiting us with hugs proudly showing off the usual spotless environment.  We were "home" and it felt darned good after only a short time away.

What do we do from here?  We continue on...with the same hope and perhaps misaligned expectations that we struggled to leave behind during these past 32 hours.  We know that that ultimate high will be ours once again, but not necessarily in the mountains of Morocco.

Tomorrow, earlier in the day than today, we'll be back with the continuation of our many photos of the Atlas Mountains.  Have a lovely Friday evening!  We plan on it!

Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2013:
We opted out of this excursion to Mahogany Bay in Roatan, Honduras to lay on this manmade beach owned by the cruise line which charged for lawn chairs, beach towels and beverages.  Instead, we stayed behind with the pools almost to ourselves without incurring any additional expenses.  For details in Part 2 of the harrowing experience of having our vitamins confiscated, please click here.


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