Today was a free day or a rest day. It was a day for the walkers to have a lazy day around Aroumd if they wished or perhaps a stroll down the hill to Imlil. A group of us (9) decided to go down to Imlil to see what there was to see. Even though it was a rest day, and we were all very much a group of capable adults, Brahim sent Mohamed with us to keep an eye on us and help out as needed. The ever security conscious guide does not rest even on a rest day, this foresight would pay dividends later in the morning. We traipsed off down the zig zag footpath/mule path from Aroumd to explore for the day.
The first stop was to get Toubkal shirts for those that had done the trek at one of the many outdoor shops that lined the streets, they all sold a mix of mostly second hand gear be it boots, poles or packs. Tourists to Imlil are mainly here for outdoor activities so it makes sense to have a large number of outdoor gear shops. We did also go to a fancy outdoor gear shop at the bottom of town which had some nice gear in it. It was interesting to see the European brands in shops that we rarely see here in Australia.
Always keen to try local baked goods, I was most intrigued by one of the entries in the Lonely Planet for Imlil which read as follows: “Follow your nose to this tiny pastry shop hidden behind the main street for melt-in-your-mouth, almond-flavoured biscuits and honey sweets baked daily by Amazigh (Berber) village girls. Supported by the Kasbah Toubkal, this local association helps villagers learn and perfect new skills.”
I had memories of maybe possibly seeing a sign for this pastry shop (Patisserie La Maison des Association) on our walk up through town a few days ago so we traipsed down the main street looking for this sign that I possibly recalled seeing only to find na-da. The directions of a “tiny pastry shop hidden behind the main street” were well difficult to follow. Which main street? How far was it hidden behind the main street? Still, this is all part of the adventure right???
Mohamed asked a few people and we eventually got directions to what we believed was the shop we were looking for – very much not just behind the main street but on the side of Imlil and up a laneway, (thank you Brahim for sending Mohamed with us) Maison des associations d’Imlil, the name is kind of similar to what was in the Lonely Planet and the odds of the a town of this size (circa 5000 per Lonely Planet) having 2 different community organisations running a bakery were fairly low. My theory is that they were originally in the tiny shop behind the main street but then moved into this much larger space as their production grew and they expanded into handcrafts as well as baked goods. We brought 1kg of biscuits which were thoroughly enjoyed as a little snack with a refreshing beverage at a cafe just down the road and then later that afternoon with mint tea back on the terrace at the guesthouse in Aroumd.
We then walked back the road a little to a multi story restaurant overlooking the Oued Rheraya river that cuts through Imlil and the bridge crossing this into the main street of Imlil. We were need of a refreshing beverage; coffee or hot chocolate for most, I though had lemonade as the most likely option to aid in my recovery and not hinder it! We enjoyed a very lovely view from the roof terrace where we watched civil works underway to repair some of the damage from the flash food of the river at the start of September.
Details of the flood – http://floodlist.com/africa/morocco-floods-khenifra-imlil-september-2019 and also here – https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2019/09/281738/second-wave-flooding-south-morocco/
We had a long leisurely lunch in a lovely tented room on the roof terrace of the one restaurants on the main street. One of the highlights or should I say glitterlights of this fine establishment was the glitter that was all through the “adobe” walls. I tried to get a good photo of it but none of them turned out good enough to share 🙁 We then took a slow walk back up to Aroumd, Mum decided to support the local economy a bit more than any of us and paid for a mule ride up through part of town. She had no interest on taking the mule all the way up to Aroumd, just far enough to enjoy the ride and get a few photos 😀
On the walk back up, I came across another cluster of a flower I had seen a few days earlier on a walk along the road with Margaret. This marvellous flower, reminded me of paper daisy from home but with few layers of petals and the most beautiful translucent petals. Yes, you have 5 photos of these stunning flowers so you too can marvel at their simple beauty. At the start of the trip, I had introduced into the dinner chatter, an activity that Mum had done with us on adventures for almost as long as I can remember, a highlight and a lowlight of the day. I had brought it along to this trip but it was highlights only. We were not children or teenagers who needed an opportunity to share a lowlight. This flower was my highlight to share at dinner that night.
Tomorrow we were off walking again, which I was excited about but also a bit hesitant about. I was so hesitant it seems that I never actually finished my journal entry from today and left it mid-sentence! Likely, I just got distracted by dinner and told myself I would catch up later…
Tomorrow though, would be treasure of a day.