Walking tasusiyt: the long road to the Barrage du souss

I’m lost. The only thing I see are thorn bushes for kilometers on end. In the distance the long shape of a mosque, an indication that i’m not too far away from society. But nothing more. I look at the sun but can’t make anything of that. How can I lose track of the river?

Sometimes an adventurous journey is a real adventure. Sometimes nothing happens. We tend to forget this; the long kilometers of black asphalt, cars passing by, the dredge only broken by a honking horn or a passing donkey packed with weeds. A day where actually nothing happens, until something happens. Because on an adventure the little things are the most important.

The long asphalt stretches it’s black tongue in front of me, mostly I don’t even see the end. I know it’s just 20 kilometers more. A walk of four hours, but I calculate six. At these moments my mind wanders, it wanders from left to right, from the tip of the iceberg all the way to the bottom of the ocean. Good ideas come up, stupid jokes that make me grin and past experiences with friends or family. As the ticking of my walking sticks indicates the ticking of the clock and the passing of kilometers the sun flies more towards the west. I hit the end of the road and put up my tent at an orange orchard. The voice from the mosque tells me it’s time for an evening prayer. Time for dinner.

During the night my phone bleeps and indicates it’s empty. For the next day I apparently don’t have a GPS, but I’ve made a drawing from the map; this way I should be able to find my way to the base of the Souss river, the Barrange du Souss. I have found my way before with my own maps, but it seems my “map drawing skills” were a little out of date. The map is simple; I just have to follow the river, pass a bigger road, follow a little more river and then hit the road towards the Barrage. 20 maybe 30 kilometers, I could make it! After walking in the base of the river for an hour or two I decide to go for the edge. The boulders and the sand in the river make the going too slow. After an hour I have no more clue where the edge ends and the Moroccon wasteland begins. Thorn bushes everywhere and no shade to hide from the scorching sun. I can see for kilometers on end. There is nothing. Only bushes, sand, boulders and the occasional crossing turtle, who asked what i’m doing there. I know when we are lost we have the tendency to walk in circles, so I look for a higher point in front of me and just walk that way. When I stop i feel my head getting dizzy. I have to keep going. Finally I find a cactus with a little shade. It might not be such a good idea to lay under it, but it’s the only shade I find.

Finally I find my old friend the river again, I’m happy to see him. I recharge my phone at a little store in a village and go on my way towards the last kilometers. When I see the first streams water in little rivers next to the path I know I’m getting close. I follow the flow and see how the sides of the river get more and more green. Lush vegitation instead of dried up clay. I walk through nameless villages until I reach the town of Oulouz. Here I treat myself for a tea with a big omelette. The locals in the store are fascinated by my story, and I’m fascinated by theirs. We exchange experiences, smiles and end up talking about soccer. Barcelona or Real Madrid? I get the omelette and tea for free. Just a little sign of Moroccan hospitality.

Im going uphill towards the Barrage, and when I finally reach it I’m happy but tired. I sit down and enjoy the view and strong winds blowing shapes into the water. I’ve made it; I nearly walked the entire length of the Souss river. Except for the 14 kilometers I hitchhiked towards Taroudant my feet took me all the way from Agadir to Aoulouz and the Barrage. I think of all the people I met; the lonely young sheepherder who stalked me for most of the trip with weird whatsapp messages, the girl who wanted to be an English teacher and her father who owned a little store giving her an opportunity to go to school. The countless women who were hidden inside the houses but made me tea. They have not seen my smile their tea gave me. The farmer who gave me two kilo’s of oranges or the little kid who wanted to throw a rock towards me because I didn’t give him money. The shared laughs, countless hands and all the types of beautiful handshakes I’ve came across. And the countless sardines I’ve eaten. Maybe next month will be a sardine-less month.

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