The Atlas Mountains and false advertising 

Marrakesh is a pretty happening place and after several cities we felt it was time to experience fresh air. We booked a tour into the mountains for a four hour hike up to some waterfalls. We carefully read the outline, confirmed the duration of the hike and felt this was a good way to take a break from the city, its noise and constant pressures to buy this and that.

Our vehicle picked us up a bit late. The organizer freaked out that he had to make a bit of change when we paid. Cost was 150.00 mad. We each gave him 200.00 mad. So not a stretch to think he’d be able to make change as this currency has 50.00 mad notes. No one here likes to make change.

Off we went with five other tour goers – a nice number. Our first stop – to take pictures of some camels, for which one was expected to pay. Sitting on the camel also required payment. (We did not – sit or pay). Next stop a garden with medicinal herbs and plants growing. An interesting talk about the benefits of the plants – and then of course a visit to the shop to buy all the overpriced products. (We didn’t even enter the shop.) Then down the road to a women’s co-op weaving and embroidery shop. Information given as a strong overture to us making purchases. (We did not.) By the way there’re many so called women’s co-operatives in this country and we doubt many are legitimate. Next stop a traditional Berber house. And believe it or not – this travesty of “tradition” had a jewelry shop. By this time we were all pretty fed up and let the driver know it was time to move on to the trail head.

Once there we were met by our young and pleasant guide who explained he’d take us on our one and a half hour hike. Four of us had signed up for rather more than that so we let our dismay be known. Poor kid looked a bit startled. The first part of our walk was up a steep trail bordered on both sides by so many shops it was like being in a city Medina. There were also throngs of people. Finally we reached a little cafe perched on the rock slope where we had a break. Water, tea etc. As Pat had brought some peanuts she shared them around with our group as everyone was hungry. It was now lunch time…. our walk continued and became a scramble up a steep and rocky path into lovely rugged mountains. Ah! Quiet, fresh air, the sound of a rushing mountain stream and numerous waterfalls. It was a fabulous interlude! The hike culminated in a climb – which everyone except two of our group declined. I tried, but realized with no appropriate safety, to proceed was rather stupid. Our walk ended up being about two and a half hours. We think our young guide put his best effort into appeasing those of us who had expected a proper hike.

We were then taken to a rip-off restaurant which charged exorbitant prices for meals. Pat and I were hungry enough we both ordered small dishes. The food tasted fine but it was pretty annoying to be held hostage as it were.

All in all the day was a success despite once again be the victims of  willful misrepresentation of the facts. I have decided nothing anyone tells me in this country should be taken as the truth. Avoiding the truth appears to be a national past time with anyone involved in selling anything.

So a parting thought on that. How many of us really believe our western advertising? Creams to make us young forever, and even ones which will make us more slender? Foods that will help us loose unwanted weight? Viagra anyone? “I’d like to give the world a coke and live in perfect harmony.” Oh ya! Morocco is no different really. Just here we are struggling to understand the rules and the lies are a bit more personal as they are face to face.

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