John, my boss, drove down from Rabat yesterday in his quest for snow. It was a chilly, rainy overcast day in Meknes, so we assumed there would be plenty of new snow in the Middle Atlas Mountains south of here. John wanted to drive up to Lake Afenourir, a protected bird habitat, about 26 km south of Azrou.
It was an interesting drive in the fog and mist, and, after arriving, we walked near the shore for about 45 minutes, looking for exotic birds, but all we saw were the usual assortment of ducks and geese (though I could have been looking right at the rarest bird in the world and not known). It was rainy, windy and somewhat cold, so we scurried back to the car and drove back to the pavement. John’s been itching to give his 4-wheel drive Subaru, the only Subaru in Morocco as far as he knows, a good off-road test, so we picked a dirt road at random and headed into the Middle Atlas, winding ever higher into the mountains.
We got back in a ways, perhaps 10 miles or so, and ended up in a very small, Berber family compound, with the muddy and, in spots, almost impassable track continuing steeply to the ridge beyond. John was getting low on gas, so we decided to go back to the main road. In better weather these roads would be fun to explore to see where they go. Drive far enough, about 150 miles or so, and you’d end up in the Sahara. Again, though, we didn’t see any new snow; the temperature was still just a few degrees too warm.
We stopped in Ifrane on the drive back and ate supper at a very nice cafe. I ordered a pizza and what I thought would be a small salad. The salad turned out to be rather huge. John looked at it and asked, “What the heck did you order!” I told him I thought it would be smaller. He ordered a Vietnamese shrimp salad (yes, Vietnamese) and a Vietnamese omelet. It turned out his order was also more than he bargained for. We managed to polish off the lot, though. Yes, the restaurant serves Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, but I don’t know how authentic they are. It was quite an eclectic experience–stopping in a town built by the French to resemble an alpine resort, eating East Asian food and, very briefly, having a group of Chinese tourists (presumably) sit next to us. John recognized the language as Chinese, but the group must have decided not to stay, as they sat for only a few minutes and got up and left.
Anyway, that’s how I spent most of Christmas Eve Day. It’s raining again, lightly, today, so I won’t have a white Christmas. But, I’ll have a good one, I suppose. I bought a small turkey breast that I’ll roast, whip up some mashed potatoes and gravy, some frozen green peas and get a loaf of fresh bread from the patisserie. The students are out on practicum this coming week, so I’m in no hurry to make up lesson plans. If it clears up later, maybe I’ll take the bicycle out for a spin. So, wherever you’re at– Korea, the U.S., Canada, Thailand, Laos or Morocco–have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year! More later.