Following Tasusiyt: At the pace of a sloth

I’m walking the full lenght of the Souss river in Morocco in search of real Moroccan life outside the cities. So far I’ve encountered friendly sheepherders in long jalabas, vans packed with people and many, many orangetrees.

The sun is blasting on my dry skin. My lips are dry, the air is dry and the river is dry.  Although many signs I come across in the river tell a quite different story. After an hour walking over the boulders that is the Souss river I stop at a little shop where they sell all the moroccan nessecities; sardines, sweets, soda and bread. In this little place I learn the cold hard truth, seeing the evidence on a phone. A week ago water was flowing through this dry and dusty river with the power of 1000 horses.


The blisters under my feet are getting a little better and since I’m not too good in sitting around it’s time to get on with it. This river doesn’t walk itself. I decide to have an easy day to let my feet get used to walking; 8 kilometers. After an uneasy start I find myself on the brink of the city and on a pathway leading to the Souss. The plan was to walk the river, but past days I mostly was finding roads close to it and I saw the river once a day. Now I’m walking through it. The river is made up of boulders, sand and clay. The first day after Taroudant, where I took a hotel room, is just 8 kilometers but it takes some hours. I decide to camp on the edge of an island, where apparently is a graveyard for cattle. There are a couple of “islands” in the river, they are used for orchards or grazing for cattle. These “islands” are quite long (five to seven kilometer)  and about one and a half meter higher then the riverbed. While I set up my tent a drizzle comes in. The only rain I would see for many days.


Next morning I leave to an early morning sun to make some decent kilometers. After the rain from last evening a fresh blanket hangs over the riverbed. The little pollen of grass I find still wears drops of dew before they evaporate in the hot sun. The wind is strong and I’m struggling to find good spots to walk on. The best is the dried up clay. This is hard and solid. The worst are boulders or loose sand. And I have to admit most of the river are boulders and loose sand. After four hours I check how many kilometers I’ve done. Little over eight… This means two kilometers an hour! This is just a little faster as an sloth. I keep on zig-zagging through the river, searching for good ground to walk on when the wind picks up.


The wind gets stronger and stronger while more and more sand leaves the bottom of the river to take to the sky. I’m finding myself walking through a sandstorm, while in the middle of a river. I never expected to end up in a sandstorm. The winds are now so strong I sometimes lose sight of the sides of the river as well as the front. During the day I see many little improvised shacks in the river. As well as a waterway, this river is a source of rocks used elsewhere. People work in this river and these little buildings give them a safe place away from the winds and the scorching sun. After a day of wind and sand between my teeth I find an orange orchard where I secretly put my tent. A fox comes out and welcomes me before I fall into a deep sleep.

I have to make up for the missed kilometers during the sandstorm. Walking in the base of the river is exciting but hard. Next to the river is a stretch of pure black asphalt. About 25 kilometers. I decide to get to the road but all things are not so easy. Kilometers through the sand and boulders of the river. I try the banks, but there is a lot of agriculture going on and I find myself trying to navigate trough dry farmers fields. There are no paths, just straight on through the brown, dried up fields. Slowly but surly my surrounding gets more green. A palm tree pops up, thorn bushes make way for lemon green grass and flowering weeds. Finally after a hot morning I get to the little oasis of the town of Arazene. I’m hungry and could use some good food. Just a minute after walking into the village, I ask the first person I come across where one can get some food. He guides me to his friends, and within a hour a beautiful tagine is produced and we eat while trying to communicate in French, Arabic and English.


With my stomach full I forget to buy food for the evening and next morning, until I decide to set up camp in a field full of pumpkins. I don’t think they’ll miss one or two. When I hit the black asphalt next morning I know its going to be 25 kilometers straight on. Just a couple of curves, no lefts, no rights. Just straight on.

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Following Tasusiyt: Heat and sardines

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“Shut up, be quiet!” Mustafa, our taxi driver is sweating. And very angry at us. He turns the car in the middle of traffic while he screams: “I bring you back to busstation, no cheap hotel for you!” He, what happend? Let’s go back 10 minutes.

Leaving the bus in Agadir, where the Sous river flows into the Atlantic, Eveline and me get out. I met her in Marrakech and in search of her own adventure she decided to join me to Agadir. Like lost children we are an easy prey for taxi drivers who want to earn a quick buck from tourists. All of a sudden there is Mustafa with his battered taxi. Small mustache under big eyebrows and a sweaty forhead. A friend of him has a cheap hotel and he wants to bring us there. “Only tourist, good hotel!” This slogan comes out of the Lonely Planet of tourist scams but oke, lets go for it. We decide we pay him 50 Dirham for the trip. Like a stock car racer he is driving through the streets. Then he decides we have to pay 100 Dirham in stead of 50. When I object we get into a fight. He starts screaming and threathens to bring us back to the busstion. The car is already on it’s way back as a matter of fact. After some screaming we let him win the game. 100 Dirham. Sweaty taxi driver 1 – tourists 0. Is this Morocco?

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After a day in Agadir it’s time to start my journey. The end of the river is not easy found but around noon I finally got to the beach. I can’t get through the water and mud so I decide that 100 meters from the ocean must do. While I start walking a flock of pink flamingos fly over my head.

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I try to follow the river as close as possible, but soon this seems impossible. I have to walk through villages and towns on asfalt and gravel. I find myself in outskirts where children ask for money. A youngster tries to take one of my walking sticks because he can use it. Children throw rocks. I walk fast and try to get out of this “civilised” area. But I understand it, my wealth is in no comperisement to their poorness. I don’t think I’m rich by western standarts but here the inside of my bag is way more then a month of earnings. My name is no longer Ali Baba like in Marrakech, but mister Dihram.

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Next day I walk into the countryside. People laugh more. They greet me and stick their thumbs up. We exchange smiles and everything becomes more positive. When entering a village most of the kids are quickly gathered around me and we shake hands, give hi fives and I let them listen to my electro music from my mp3-player. The countryside is filled with curious sheepherders, working people on orange fields and chilling people. These people seem happier then in the big cities where hussling is a way of life and making money. The way of life on the countryside is probably not too easy, but I could see it’s more rewarding.

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Trying to follow rhe river is a quest. Mostly I get close by and find myself going through meadows of chillis, melons or eggplants. The river is a little canyon in the landscape but after 30 kilometers nearly dry. Sometimes there is a puddle of water where birds gather. In the night I pitch my tent while bullfrogs sing as the mosques sing their prayers. Sometimes a lonely dog howls along. I almost feel the urge to howl as well. As an alternative to the riverbank I walk the little roads through the fields as close to the river as possible. Sometimes I find my own paths and the going is slow. Sometimes I choose asfalt and I can make up for the time wandering the fields.

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Most of the houses I come across are made of clay with hay or concrete bricks. No windows. There is no need for this, since it’s nearly always hot here. Early march is not too warm. I’ve seen people with woolen hats and thick jackets. 25 degrees is not warm. Summer is warm. I’m glad I’m not here in summer. The “heat” makes it harder to walk, especially in the fields there is hardly any shade and after a hour of walking I need to rest and air my feet. Blisters start to grow after day one and are a continious source of worries. Especially on my left foot where they have a foursome on an area of one centimeter. All I can do is air my feet regulair and in the process eat what I gathered in the villages.

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The stores in the villages sell bread and sardines. Fruit and veggies are bought on local souks. Which I don’t pass. Bread and sardines it is. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. One morning I walked into a village to turn up to the litte shop of Mustapha to gather some supplies (read: sardines and bread). I told him what I was doing and he invited me for tea in this house. Soon a table was set and bread, oil, honey and oranges where brought by his wife and daughter. In the traditional Moroccon manner tea was poured from nearly a meter high with fine precision. The feast could begin; this is real Morocco.

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After a day of rest and blister healing I continue to follow the Sous. 100 kilometers are left before I head North and head into the ice capped mountains of the High Atlas. The next stretch are mainly banana fields or a long asfalt road. Let’s see what happens!

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Walking Tasusiyt

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“Ali baba, ali baba! How are you my friend?” The young guy in the blue jalabah sticks his hand out to me. I take it and knows what he wants. He owns a shop for herbs and tea. The previous day I had a little chat with him about my next journey. About the real berber tea he sells. “Real good for nose and stomach!”

After I told a friend I wanted to hike for a month in Tenerife, her answer was: “Why don’t you go to Morocco? It’s way more interesting.” My eyes lit up and my mind was already there. Morocco, or, the place the sun sets. I don’t know anything about Morocco so I started doing research on the net. Not much was found about hiking or cycling in this country and for me this is always a good sign. A country unknown to long distance travelers.

When looking on the map I soon found a long river, leading from the Atlas mountains to Agadir. This seemed a good hike and from the mountains I could walk back to Marrakech. The whole strech is around 300 kilometers and perfect for a 20 day hike. Walking a river is a good way to get to know a country.

The valley of the sous river is among the most furtile areas in Morocco. Dates, palmtrees and fruittrees are in abundance in the lush area. Located between the Atlas and the Antiatlas this region is a Berber region where most people speak their own berber language. A very interesting place to explore and to see the real Morocco.

During my journey I’ll make one analoge picture every day. To describe the day I use as many words as kilometers walked that day. This way I have to make every word count and make every picture count as well to tell the story.

Starting from Agadir means I will follow the river upwards; to the point where the river starts. This is high in the Atlas mountains, where temperatures are below freezing and ask for good preperation. After crossing the Atlas mountains I will walk back to Marrakech and mister herbtea in the long blue jalabah.

I leave his shop with a bag of the real berber tea. Actually I wasn’t planning to buy any tea but the power of Moroccan haggling is as strong as the burning sun in the Sahara desert. “Good luck my friend, and be carefull!”

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