0191. Ruins of a French Garrison (Mor 040—new)

Mahirija Travel Blog

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The day starts out normally enough.  After spending the last two days visiting three towns along the Fes-Oujda highway, I am eager to get out into the Moroccan hinterlands.   I head out early--I've learned that the "village vans" don't run too frequently.  "Mhirija" is the closest town to Guercif on my map--and soon enough I've found a van heading that direction.

 After about an hour the van has finally filled up and we’re on our way.  We head straight south--through a pretty desolate wilderness with only distant mountains on the horizon.  Every now and again someone will get off and wander off in scorching heat... I strain my eyes but I there is no sign of any houses anywhere.


 The van is almost empty by the time we reach Mhirija--I know what that means:  Mhirija is not a very popular destination.  Sure enough, it’s a completely characterless dusty little village that takes me about ten minutes to walk around.  I can't really walk around any more without looking more ridiculous than I already do, and I’m definitely in no mood to just hike off into the barren wasteland.  So I sit down at the only cafe with three dirty tables.  The owner isn't even there--so one of the other customers goes in and got me a soda.  Yep, it's definitely a small town.   I just sit there a bit, soaking in the vibe.  A truck full of rowdy musicians and wedding guests rumbled past, adding a little bit of excitement to the scene, but that’s about it.


 Not sure if I want to head on looking for some other dusty little village or head back to the main highway, I amble down to the main road to take my clip under the shade of a couple of trees. 

 That's when my day starts to get a LOT more interesting.

 Two fellows who were waiting for a bus came over and insist I play a song for them.  As I strum away, their bus speeds past... so I hope the song was worth missing their bus for! 

 I ask them about a crumbling old fort like structure over to the side that has caught my attention.  They say it was an old French garrison and offer to show me around.   It’s was quite impressive to explore--with its underground rooms for storing provisions and ammunition, its orderly rows of stone barracks.

.. but even more impressive was the feeling of utter destruction.  Clearly this fort went through some rough times.  This fort visit is going to acquire even a greater significance over the next few days.

 The two fellows suggest that I head up to the mountain villages "the weather's a lot nicer up there... and you can catch a van right here by the road heading up there..."  Sounds like a good idea, so I thank them I go to wait under a tree.  A fellow waiting there says the van to Rchida has already left, but another van would be coming that can take me an hours’ hike from the town...


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photo by: nathanphil