At the Cascades d’Ouzoud, about a hundred miles East of Marrakesh, we arrived at a guest house we knew allowed travellers to sleep on the roof – the budget option. We negotiated a price with the friendly owner but an overbearing man appeared and tried to schmooze us with Bargain Hunt similes, football banter and poor Cockney imitations. He smacked of tout and argued with the proprietor before turning to us all smiles and sidelong glances claiming to own the place himself. He tried to charge us five pounds each to sleep on a concrete roof (no bedding!) and so we walked off to shouts of “you won’t find cheaper!”
We ordered mint tea at an open air restaurant on an outcrop that looked directly over the magnificent cascades. We were so close that occasionally spray from the deluge would be brought up to us on the soft breeze, although we were high up in the orange cliffs. On an impulse I asked how much they’d charge us to let us sleep on the sofas that night.
As darkness thickened over the falls a steaming vegetable tagine was brought over to us with fresh fluffy loaves to mop up the stock heavy remnants. The gap tooth owner joined us, bringing over illicit liquor to share. We bedded down on the straw stuffed sofas, exhausted after a seven hour drive, whilst our host and the waiters relaxed with a strawberry shisha, which clouded the air with a soft sweet scent. The constant thunder of the falls was both comforting and perturbing; my dreams were tinged with the rational worry that there might be a sudden surge.
Sleep was abruptly shattered by a cockerel that had wandered into the restaurant and was announcing dawn. Animal lover though I am I picked up a leftover loaf and threw it at the bird. Perhaps an hour or so later, as the sun started to peek over the cliffs and into the valley, another small commotion penetrated my consciousness; I peered out of my blanket nest to find 3 Berber monkeys swinging from the rafters and squabbling over the bread missile. I watched them lazily whilst the rising sun created rainbows out of the wet mist. I have slept in deserts, jungle and mountains but I have never woken up to such an awe inspiring sight as this colourful forested gorge coming to noisy life.