0578 Wetlands in Morocco (Mor 209â€”new)
Mechra Benabbou Travel Blog› entry 2 of 92 › view all entries
Itâ€™s still raining and common sense tells me that I should just call it a day and head back to
But I canâ€™t quite just quite yet. So since there are no bush taxis heading south from Rahal, I hop on a bus, determined to get to Mechra ben Abbou, or perish in the undertakingâ€¦
After about 20 minutes or so, the bus stops in the absolute middle of no where.
â€śThis is Mechra ben Abbouâ€ť the ticket guy tells me.
I get off the bus, feeling more than a bit foolish.
But at least the rain has stopped for nowâ€¦. Thereâ€™s a tiny hamlet visible on a hillside way off to the west and a paved road heading eastâ€¦ I decide to head east.
I feel like Iâ€™m approaching a ghost town. There are sidewalks, and even palm trees planted along the roadâ€¦ but no housesâ€¦ Finally I reach a school, a corner store-- and a handful of housesâ€¦ and a Gendarme stationâ€¦ and thatâ€™s itâ€¦
Mechra ben Abbou feels like a village that aspired to becoming a town, but somehow that never happenedâ€¦
Then comes a very pleasant surpriseâ€¦ On the other side of town is what looks like a sizeable river (although itâ€™s almost certainly just a long lake), an old metal truss bridge, andâ€¦ what looks likeâ€¦ could it be? Wetlands? In
In between two barren hills is a lush strip of trees and grassy marshes-- something Iâ€™ve never seen before in
It feels like a very, very cool discoveryâ€¦ OK, maybe it just feels that way because my expectations for Mechra Ben Abbou were very, very low-- so to find ANYTHING unique or special here feels like Iâ€™ve discovered the
I take a clip with the bridge and river in the background, then cross to the other side to sit on a log and soak in the atmosphere. Then I continue on and hike to the top of one of the hills to get a panoramic view of the whole area. It is a beautiful view from the topâ€¦ the barren hilltops a stark contrast with the winding, lush valley.
In the shade of a thick grove of trees are a couple of abandoned concrete park benches. It seems like once upon of time this might have been a popular little picnic spotâ€¦ although it seems like itâ€™s an awful long ways to the nearest cityâ€¦
Anyways, Iâ€™m very happy with my discovery of Mechra Ben Abbou-- especially after the rough start this day hadâ€¦
I head on back to the highway and to catch a bus back up to Settat.
The friendly Gendarme police offer to help me out-- basically to tell someone to give me a ride to Settatâ€¦ Reluctantly I accept. I feel a bit uncomfortable with the realization that Iâ€™m being helped only because Iâ€™m a foreignerâ€¦. I strongly doubt theyâ€™d do a favour like this for one of the localsâ€¦
But my options are kind of limited, and time is running outâ€¦
They wave the next car that comes by. The guy doesnâ€™t seem all that happy with the arrangement, but he accepts. I figure Iâ€™ll offer to pay him something...
We get to talking. It turns out that he wasnâ€™t happy because heâ€™d recently had a fight with that very same Gendarme policeâ€¦ Heâ€™s actually a very successful young businessman who gets government contracts for installing water and sewage pipelines for entire townsâ€¦
Back in Settat
Back in Settat, Iâ€™m in no hurry to rush back to
Finally I figure Iâ€™ve been rained on enough and I duck into a nice cafĂ© in the center of town, just to chill out for a while and soak in the significance of this dayâ€¦ this First Step in what Iâ€™m hoping will be a Very, Very Long Journey.
I take a moment to take in the surroundings. Thereâ€™s the typical â€śhabibi popâ€ť music playingâ€¦ there are colourful designs on the ceiling and a rock fountain behind meâ€¦ Here on first floor is the typical middle aged men crowd, postponing going home to their wives as long as they possibly can. Upstairs is packed with high school girls, hanging out after classâ€¦
This is a fairly recent phenomenon here in
I sip my coffee and scribble a few notesâ€¦ Usually I wait a few weeks before writing about my travel experiences, to give them time to sink in, but today, I just canâ€™t waitâ€¦ This is, after all, a very significant dayâ€¦