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Tafraoute - Berber country

Follow-up from my penultimate post.

Tafraoute was a wonderful place - for its unique scenery at the heart of the Anti-Atlas, away-from-it-all feel, warm and incredibly relaxed atmoshpere, not to mention the stunning drives to (from Ifni the way of Kardous pass) and from (to Taroudant, through Ighrem) it.

And a peculiar one - in a nice, quirky sort of way - for its insularity.

Its surprising wealth, isolated as it was in a location not so easily accessible in the heart of the mountain-range - wealth that extended, bewilderingly, to village upon village along the long, winding road in and out through the mountain.

Nothing miserable-looking, or even old, slightly dilapidated or built of mud-brick. Nope, it's all large, new and built of concrete, with large, walled villas in the most unlikely, remote, bare, stony places, all quite surreal. In some cases, entire villages, formerly in uncomfortable places, have been abandoned and built anew not a hundred yards down the hill, in a place looking equally inhospitable and thankless to our visiting eyes.

Turns out all this wealth comes from larger cities, invested back home by incredibly hard-working locals who sought their living in the cities but never put down any roots there, remaining fiercly attached to their land.

This belies a very strong identity that makes for a distinct us-and-them feeling. Everyone there is really warm and welcoming, but anyone just passing through is fair game, and we've encountered several tradesmen actively going out of their way to earn our trust only for us to realize, back home, we'd been sold duds. All done very nicely mind you, in a way that forces you to acept it as simply being the way of the world in these parts.


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