My favorite day of our trip to Morocco was the one which we spent hiking up Jebel el Kest, the second-highest mountain of the anti-atlas mountains. This mountain range is in Berber country, deep in the south.
We drove the car a third of the way up on a winding one-lane to a scenic village called Tagdicht. We met our guide there and set off on foot.
Our guide was a wizened, surefooted old man that kept up a constant stream of chatter in Berber. Our friend Chédid translated occasionally when it was pertinent.
‘This plant is used for tea.’
The rest of the six hour hike the guide went on about his life, told tourist stories, and gossiped about so-and-so in such-and-such village. Chédid was a good sport, showing interest in the right places with the Berber equivalents of hmm-mm’s and yeahs. I would not have been capable of following a conversation; I spent my time admiring the plants and landscape, taking pictures, and trying not to sprain my ankles on the loose rocks.
Chédid translated one tourist story about a woman that went hiking without a guide and got her leg crushed by a rock. They had to take her all the way to Agadir, three hours away, for proper medical care. ‘So what is the moral of the story?’ Cyril joked, ‘That we shouldn’t go out without a guide or that we should tip extra well so that the same thing doesn’t happen to us?’
In any case we wouldn’t have found our way without him. The path was not always clear, its only marking an occasional cairn.
After a solid three and a half hours, we reached the summit!