Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Morocco: Ouarzazate to M'Hamid

Our first full day east of the High Atlas, this is perhaps the most exciting day. We are in the Draa river valley now, near its origin at the confluence of the Dades and the Tadili rising in the Atlas.

Above is from our hotel room near Ouarzazate.

To say that allocation of water in Morocco is complicated would be an understatement. Irrigation canals, timed use, wells, the fact that the desert is still growing and these lands are becoming dryer, the population is growing, balancing rural tradition with the prospect of all boggles the mind.

The new reservoir near Ouarzazate has caused changes in the water flow in the Draa, which was already seasonal. Melt waters from the High Atlas filled the river, dictating planting and success in the palmaries. Now that flow is regulated. There are also deep wells that dip into the water table. The farther down the river, the more precarious in an already-precarious existence. We will see more about that tomorrow.

If this water discussion piques your interest, have a look here.

In the meantime, there are many bird migrants to be seen, and the complexities of many cultures to be fathomed. The area has a cultural history that is thousands of years old. The geology is fascinating and beautiful.

 Somebody's VW van, no more.

 A mid-morning stop for tea or coffee.

 Palmary at Agdz.

Inside the palmary it's another world.

 Date palms.

 Oued Draa near Agdz.

 Lunch with Ed and Peter Jones, our leader with an encyclopaedic mind for birds. Liz and Jeff from Malaga are coming to the table shortly.

 Berber welcome on the doorstep of Cafe Jacob.

The kasbah that contains Cafe Jacob.

A concrete irrigation channel under construction.

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