Days 8 & 9: Kasbah Bab

AKA: Berber Baby Buggy Bumpers

Skip to the first pictures if you don’t want to read about my fever dreams.

Hoo boy, last night was rough. I must have eaten something that didn’t agree with me because my gut was an angry nest of wasps. I employed whatever Lamaze techniques I could recall back from my childbearing days to soothe my stomach and hopefully get to sleep.

Needless to say, it was a fitful night but it lead to some absolutely fascinating and vivid dreams. Not all of them involved chasing around a pooping dog.

Naturally all the narratives ran together – as dreams do – but I recall bounding around. I don’t have flying dreams per se, but I am able to jump off tall things, leap and stay airborne. I was with Heather and we were jumping off tall buildings on campus, she was scared but I encouraged her not to be, to leap off with me. It was ecstatic.

Then I was on a hill overlooking the ocean. Off shore were giant sea creatures, white and enormous, trolling about. Nope! Not getting in that water!

Some were recognizable as 30-foot sharks and even bigger whales, others were strangely elongated but they were all huge. They lined up almost like cars parked along the curb.

I was fascinated but terrified, it harkened back to a recurring nightmare I had as a child. Someone tried to catch one, he hooked it and was dragged underwater as it sped along the coastline. I didn’t feel sorry for him.

What’s that you say? You don’t give a crap about my random dreams? Welcome to my blog.

Come morning I was fine and slept until 9am. I woke to pouring rain.

I love that our group has the run of the entire riad. It allows us to sleep with our doors wide open, not bother with locks, and come to breakfast in whatever condition the night left us in. 

Julien, our host, greeted me with a smile. 

“Good morning Vivienne (pronounced perfectly “VEEV-yen”), you look lovely.”

Swoon.

We had our coffee and soft boiled eggs and I packed an overnight bag for our trip to Ourika, a village in the Atlas Mountains.

Lindsay and Jo’s nemesis

The morning was very cool due to the all-night drenching rain. I dressed as warmly as I could and set out to the vans waiting for us at the edge of the medina. The narrow cobblestone passages don’t do well with this much moisture.

I was told that it hadn’t rained much over the winter so it was welcome, but everyone felt the need to apologize for the weather nonetheless.

It was to be a 45 minute ride to Ourika but our driver stopped at a roadside café and gift shop, the Moroccan version of a strip mall in the middle of nowhere.

From there he convinced us to detour to a rug making “factory” where we would get very good deals. “Wholesale prices.” He assured us it was only a kilometer away.

Granted, the road was narrow and winding but after 30 minutes I wondered if we had been kidnapped. I sat next to Cherry and her mother, feeling empathy for Cherry’s distress, she has bad motion sickness.

The rug factory was okay, it was more of a warehouse. Once again we were sat down as rug after rug was laid on the ground before us. We kept it short and I picked out a rug I liked. Jo turned her nose up at it because she’s all about vintage but I fell in love with the color. I think I got a pretty good deal but it definitely wasn’t wholesale.

Lindsay proved to be the most savage bargainer as she talked the merchant down from his original asking price of $700 to $100. The deal was sealed literally as she was driving away. There is something to be said about leveraging the power of giving no fucks.

Each deal came with a marriage proposal of some sort

We piled back in the vans and headed to our riad in Ourika. The original road we were to take had been washed out by all the rain so we detoured through a small village. It was a harrowing drive as the vans are not equipped for those conditions. Poor Cherry almost got out and walked to save her constitution.

We were all relieved to pull up to Kasbah Bab.

Kasbah Bab is a luxury riad in the mountains, nothing like Salut Maroc or Matham in design. It had its own distinct flavor. 

Of course it had me at hello.

The first thing he did was apologize for the weather

It is low slung because the mountains are cooler and efficiently heating rooms is an architectural consideration, it felt rustic in a luxurious kind of way.

The rooms are all generous in size, some with private swimming pools in the garden, ours with a deluxe bathroom.

There were ample public spaces featuring cozy fires, couches, and decor consisting of vintage objects. 

While it was cold and wet outside, the inside was warm and cozy. Yes, sun would have been preferable, but we are hoping for sun in the morning. Meanwhile we enjoyed the novelty of rain in the dessert. 

Jo told me that last year everything was brown and dead looking.

Behold the Atlas Mountains

The rain brought everything back to life, it looked almost like Tuscany.

We had lunch as a group and then Lor and I retired to our room. Part of me wants to enjoy everything, experience everything, but the reason we are at Kasbah Bab is to relax. Lor ordered a bottle of wine for lunch and I had a couple glasses knowing that a long soak in the tub and a nap was on the agenda.

Little did I know that there was a party going on in Mimi and Shannon’s room.

To be honest, I’m glad I took it easy because the ladies – though they looked like they were having fun at dinner – drank a lot. As much as I like to get loopy, I don’t relish a hangover. 

Instead Lor and Lindsay and I hung out by the fireplace, researched tattoo designs and held court with whoever passed through until we couldn’t take the heat anymore.

They kept this fire going at all times and there was a WIFI router in the room which made for better Pinteresting.

I look forward to each night’s sleep as if maybe this will be the night where I get a solid eight and don’t spend at least part of the evening cycling through podcasts and relaxation apps.

NONETHELESS, I was in much better shape than the party crew who were – in their defense – shouldered their burdens with amazing grace.

Only one of these ladies drinks

Even though I wasn’t alcohol poisoned, I had crazy dreams.

Something about dropping Minx off at a local laundromat to give birth to and raise a litter of kittens, then picking them all up a few weeks later to sell all but one. It must be because of all the pregnant cats everywhere.

Sweetest little mama

I also dreamt I was waiting to take an aerobics class at a community center and couldn’t seem to keep my pants on. As it goes with dreams I kept putting bottoms on and then they would disappear. I have no idea where that came from except being inappropriately naked is a common theme in anxiety dreams.

And speaking of inappropriate nudity, some of the ladies felt the need to skinny dip in Mimi and Shannon’s pool. I was one of them but didn’t get any pictures on my phone. Mimi, Shannon and Lindsay are much prettier anyway.

As I hoped, the weather cleared up and then sun burned through the clouds. I had a quick breakfast of shaksouka eggs and spent the next couple hours walking around. 

I think I took the same pictures over and over as the weather continued to change and emerge from the clouds.

Resort cats have the best life as far as feral populations go although it would be nice if the resort owners would take it upon themselves to spay/neuter their cats to contain the population. 

I carried a small dish of eggs and lox to feed the various cats.

We had lunch, wandered the grounds, and lounged in the sun until our vans arrived to bring us back to Marrakech.

The hikes were cancelled due to ground conditions but I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Kasbah Bab. It felt like true retreat. Bravo Jo, it was the best little break.

Riad Mathem was ready for us with hammams for some and dinner for all.

Back to the grind ….

Kasbah Bab was our last excursion, the remaining of our days to be spent soaking up the médina. The weather has passed and it will be blue skies for the rest of the trip.

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