We survive The Night of The Howling Wind in one piece.
The following morning, there’s an option to go on a guide-led hike through the area, towards a huge, white painted rock, which locals are said to visit to make wishes (especially those for fertility/virility). It’s got nothing to do with Islam; rather, it’s a local thing.
In any case, I’m still feeling rotten because of my cold, so I opt out of it. So do pretty much all of us “youngsters”, except for Nonnie. I hang out in bed until about 8:30 a.m., when I eventually get up.
After breakfast, I go and chill out on the sunny part of the terrace, while the sunshine lasts … and I catch sight of one of the best mountain views I’ve ever seen. It takes me a few seconds to realize that the white wispy bit of mist I’m seeing is actually a CLOUD making its way past the peak. It really is a sight to behold.
Eventually, us stragglers get our collective acts together and leave the gite to take a walk into the nearby village.
We wind our way around, up and down makeshift steps, passing locals, stopping here and there.
We come to a river, which we crossing by hopping along huge rocks, with the help of some cute local school-aged village girls. (I almost fall into the water, if not for one of the girls, who holds my hand as I struggle to regain my balance.)
Once on the other side, tour-mate Grace takes over from Will to play tour guide; her version of things are way more entertaining.
We return from our walk just as the others – tour-mates Sally, Cathy and Colin – come back from theirs.
We have one last meal – a lovely lunch – out on the sunny terrace, say goodbye to our host family and make the 45-minute trek back down into the village to collect our things.
We leave Imlil and the mountains behind …
… And arrive in the seaside town of Essaouira around late-afternoon. It takes a few minutes to re-adjust to the warmer temperature. The seagulls cry in the distance.
I have been waiting to get here for days.
Sadly, we part ways with our awesome driver Abdul. We all chip in to give him a generous tip before leaving the minibus one last time.
Local men line the sidewalk, standing by big empty carts, waiting to lug our bags (for a small fee) from the drop-off point to the riad where we’re staying.
It’s not far at all – it’s literally a five-minute walk into the walls of the older part of town. And the place has got character – nice rooms, lots of mosaic tile – cute all round. And from the looks of things, it’s a family-run business.
We also have company, as it turns out. Trip leader Will’s work-mate and friend – nicknamed Simo – happens to be in town, in our riad, for a few days before his next job.
From the moment he calls me “rasta”, I can’t decide whether he’s irritating or entertaining. Either way, he’s already been drinking, which could make for an interesting evening.
Later when we’ve all freshened up, we head out to a place nearby for dinner – this French-influenced restaurant. Expecting a little European flare with my Moroccan food, I’m a bit disappointed when I sink my knife and fork into a much-craved pastilla. What a letdown! It’s SO BLAND. The one I first had in Meknes was LOADS better. (Must be the chicken.)
We have our after-dinner drinks at another place close by – the rooftop patio of Taros , this huge, multi-level restaurant/café/bar. A live band is playing Gnaoua music (also spelled Gnawa), which is unlike anything I’ve heard so far on our travels. It’s not heavy on the base, but rather kind of light, with a fast rhythm – even a bit hypnotic.
Between the white wine I share with Nonnie and Cathy, and the rosé I help Alex finish, I’m unsure of how well the night will end.
But luckily for me, I have absolutely no trouble sleeping.