It was a relief to escape back into the countryside on our taxi journey along the spectacular Atlantic coastline towards Agadir, and then we would turn inland to the ancient market town of Taroudannt. The police had dismissed the Aussie girl’s death as an unfortunate accident, but neither of us thought this was likely because we’d heard her talking about how she missed the beaches of Australia and all the swimming opportunities - if you could avoid sharks and other hazards.
The landscape we drove through to Taroudannt was inevitably very dry, though there was plenty of vegetation, notably the unique argan trees, that provide a very good home for many wild goats, along with their more traditional use – allowing many hard-working individuals to extract fragrant oil, used in cooking and health products.
Our driver was a bit more capable in the use of English than the one who’d taken us from Marrakech to Essaouira, though he did seem pre-occupied with the rising price of oil, and kept asking me for my solution to global energy problems. I said that perhaps more use could be made of all the sunshine in Morocco, surely a boundless energy source, but he was more interested in ways of obtaining cheap petrol.
Though much of our journey to Agadir was through deserted countryside with spectacular views to the ocean, we kept encountering the sinister police road blocks, which fortunately showed no interest in tourists – despite recent events. In a relatively poor country like Morocco death is much more apparent in everyday life; the ‘drowning’ of a traveller does generate quite a bit of interest, but naturally the local population are more concerned with how to put food in their mouths.
We stopped to photograph some goats nibbling leaves in the argan trees at the roadside, which provided a welcome distraction from all the stress of recent days. They were amazing climbers, getting quite high above the ground in search of the tastiest greenery. Some grubby kids demanded that we gave them some money for taking the pictures, and despite the fact Jess knew they had nothing to do with the animals, she gave them a few small notes.
‘It’s wonderful out here’ said Jess.
‘A great place to have a house, so long as you could get a reliable water supply.’
‘I haven’t seen a trickle of water in all the stream beds we’ve crossed.’
‘No rain in last few years’ our driver volunteered.
The millions of trees appeared to be thriving for the time being, and must have adapted to the harsh conditions over many thousands of years. Humans had also learnt to harvest these unique plants, like the many olives that are also gathered and used in a wide variety of ways.
‘I love you’ Jess said.
‘Where did that come from ?’
‘Do you love me ?’
‘You know the answer to that.’
‘Say it ! Please.’