A very long day in the minivan, 12 hours in total. Back through the Draa Valley, Ouarzazate and up through the mountains, this time taking the valley from Ait Ben Haddou up to Talhouet at 1800 metres. Dry and dusty would be a good description, more of a mud track near the top, along with remnants of snow and ice. Still lovely sitting outside in the sunshine at lunchtime.

The highlight was the castle at Talhouet, only abandoned in 1956 at the time of independence. Sadly it receives no outside funding despite its one time importance, so the villagers do their best from tourist income to keep the place maintained, but as its builds mostly from mud, it’s deteriorating rapidly.

After leaving Bernard in Marrakech, our driver took us on to Essaouira on the coast (a little to his surprise, as he hadn’t been informed). A stop in he way for several cups of coffee was enough to keep him going, and he never lost his smile. Stirling work.

Getting to Essaouira was a relief, and the hotel had kept the kitchen open for us, and the meal and wine was particularly well received. After desert and mountain, we move into phase two, and a week at the seaside.

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