Waterfalls, monkey business and short jeans.

22.10 – Friday

Even though the plan was to get up early and make our way to the Cascades we didn’t leave the ‘hotel’ until 9 o’clock (which for me was still pretty early). I felt terrible. Burning throat from the day before, massive headache and annoying sniffles aren’t necessarily the best companions for the road trip around Morocco. I felt dehydrated and weak. Nevertheless, we weren’t giving up. After all this hassle to get here, not seeing the waterfalls wasn’t an option. We were told the night before, that we shouldn’t have any problems finding someone to share a grand taxi with. We were pretty positive about it. After all the Cascades are one of the best spots to see while in Morocco. And we already went a whole day without seeing a tourist. But we quickly realized that nothing is that easy. We got to the taxi point and sure enough we were the only ones who wanted to go to Ouzoud. And if not for some American girl, we would have also been the only tourists around. Fortunately for us the girl we met spoke fluent Arabic. She talked to ‘the boss’ of all the taxi drivers. Bald, fat and stinky man, with a couple of teeth missing, replied something to her and it was clear that haggling won’t be an option here. 17DH per person to go to the Cascades and it works only when the taxi i full, meaning: 6 people need to pay. We thought we might wait, but when the American girl told us she has been here 3 hours already waiting for her taxi to fill, we decided we don’t have time to play the waiting game. We paid 102DH for the whole ride and arrived in Ouzoud just after 10 am. At first we were surprised, because the Cascades, mountains or even any kind of water being present, were not in sight. Our taxi driver called out for someone and a short while later a young man was showing us the way. We passed a couple of buildings and it was then we realized we were practically standing on top of the giant waterfalls. ‘Not a bad disguise’ – we thought. And the view all the way down was brilliant!

How the hell do we get down there, though? From where we were standing the path was nowhere to be seen. At that point the young man did his business speech and offered us a tour for 200DH (!). Of course we had no intentions accepting this price. We could use some help, though – I thought. But 200 was definitely too much, we both knew it. Actually, I believe all 3 of us knew it. We made an attempt to find our own way, but quickly realized we were in a completely wrong place to start climbing down. The guy saw us coming back and asked if 100DH would be a good price. I was beginning to worry we didn’t have much time to go on our own. We had about 2 hours left. So, despite the fact, that Rhys wasn’t keen to pay at all, we agreed to take some local ‘guide’ and give him 50 DH for both of us.

As soon as we started ‘the tour’, we discovered we were indeed in a totally wrong spot. Rhys and I were sure it was part of a trick to persuade tourists to take a guide. Anyway, we were on our way and it was the most important thing. The guide took us around the houses, across a little bridge, past the Berber village and through an olive tree garden. We made it to the other side of the cliff and begun climbing down.’Where are the bloody animals?!’ – said Rhys. He was so desperate to see the monkeys. After good 30 minutes of walking I started wondering where they were too. Another half an hour later we were almost at the bottom of the valley and the monkeys were nowhere to be seen. I was slowly losing hope we were going to see any at all, but that was the moment our guide pointed towards some trees on a little hill. There they were! Four monkeys scratching each other chins and eating bugs of each other heads. Charming. We walked closer. One pair ran off, but the other two didn’t seem to care we were standing so close to them. And by “didn’t really care” I mean they were very, VERY comfortable with our presence. So comfortable that at one point one monkey turned around sticking its funny bum towards the other monkey. This was the moment we realized it was their breeding season. Very charming indeed.

The views of the cascades were truly spectacular. This place is very much recommended. If you ever find yourselves in Morocco plan a trip to the Cascades d’Ozoud. Anyways, from every point our guide took us to, the falls looked amazing. No wonder so many tourists walked those little paths (apparently last year the numbers hit about 200-300 people a day!). When we arrived at the foot of the cascades, we decided to cool off a little. The ground in the water was very muddy and slippery. Our feet were sinking into it. Rhys was brave enough to take a proper dive, even though the water wasn’t necessarily warm. After a short break we begun climbing up. This time we walked up the stairs located on the opposite side of the cliff, where all the restaurants and shops are situated. I considered the steps much easier to climb but still hard enough taking into consideration the fact I could hardly breathe at times. The heat wasn’t helping me with my dehydration either. I drank a whole bottle of water within less than an hour. By the way, even if you feel OK, take some water with you, while climbing up and down. It is quite a track after all.

After reaching the top, we paid our guide and headed towards the taxis. Luckily for us this time we shared it to Azilel with some local women. The bus ride back to Beni Mellal was very boring. As soon as we got there we headed towards the hotel. On our way we noticed a familiar face sitting at the CTM desk. The guy who offered his help with exchanging the tickets did a brilliant job. Not only he sold our seats but also managed to get us on a bus to Marrakesh due tomorrow! Happy and relieved we went to drop off our luggage in the room we have already paid for. Since we were a bit hungry we decided  to be adventurous and find somewhere to eat in this strange strange town. Little did we know, it was proving to be even more weird than we thought. After 10 maybe 15 minutes of walking I realized my jeans were probably a touch too short for this place. Knee length was not enough for this unhappy but strangely amazed audience. Dirty streets of Beni Mellal were filled with men, that didn’t seem to be doing much apart from drinking tee or coffee. Who wasn’t busy with the beverages was either sitting, standing or walking around with no particular reason. All the places we passed looked scary and unappetizing. Apart from that, Rhys started to feel really uncomfortable with all the stares and frankly they begun to freak me out too. Creeped out and with our appetite gone, we decided to run for our lives and hide in the hotel. Rhys, my brave man, left me safe in the room and went out again to get anything edible enough to tie us over till tomorrow. Almost like a real hunter he was determined to catch some prey, despite the danger. And so he did. His hunt consisted of 2 big, juicy pomegranates, some bananas, bread, yogurts and some sweet pastry. Enough to survive 🙂 At the end of the day we agreed that Beni Mellal is anything but a convenient place to stop and that our book about Morocco is pure bullshit sometimes. Most of the time. Peace!

PS. It has been two days now since we have seen any tourists, except for that American girl in Azilel. Well what an adventure, huh?

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