Denise and I departed from Fes on Wednesday, spending the last week of our trip in Rabat and Casablanca. Actually, within that last week we’ll make day trips to Kenitra from Rabat and Settat from Casa. We decided to indulge ourselves a bit since we were beginning to tire from the intense activity in Fes, and the fact we had been away from home for sixteen days. To that end, we hired the van and driver we had engaged the previous week for our two day trip to the mountains, to transport us to our friend’s home in Rabat rather than take the train.
We knew it would be more expensive than train tickets, but not having to handle luggage getting to the train station, or transferring to a local taxi upon arrival, and the ease of being delivered door-to-door made a very persuasive argument in favor of spending the additional money. The auto-route (their version of the interstate) is completed from Fes to Rabat now and shortens the trip from about four hours to two and a half.
What we had not imagined is the sheer pleasure the drive would provide. We had commented to several people during our visits that we thought the country was as green as we had ever seen it. Morocco has been blessed with regular and ample rainfall (and snow) since the latter part of November. We experienced it up close and personal in Ifrane, when a mixture of hard rain and snow, kept us indoors for almost all of two days. One never hears a complaint about the adverse conditions that might accompany the rain, because the prosperity of the country, with agriculture as its leading industry, is too much a direct result of a good “rainy season.”
Within a few miles of the trip we began to see entire fields of wildflowers, providing a colorful panorama that continued throughout the entire 200 or so kilometers. Initially, we saw some variety of ground cover, maybe weeds, which were a deep orange. But mixed in among them would be wide swaths of bright yellow blooms, and occasionally streaks of white. Especially eye-catching would be the deeper hues of orange, growing under the branches of olive trees, providing a nice contrast to the shimmering silvery leaves of their pale green foliage.
As we ascended into the hills of the mountainous area between Meknes and Khemisset, the orange seemed to give way to a different type of wildflower, one displaying tints of lavender and deeper purple. The golden fields of the wheat harvest that one sees beginning in late May are foretold by the extended green fields of the young crops, cascading up and down the mountainside. Occasionally we would see patches of red poppy blooms mixed in with the other colors, but their scarcity suggests it’s a little early for them to be at their peak.
Of course, the same landscapes can be seen from the train and cost no more if viewed from that vantage point. However, Denise did feel free to take a few hundred photographs without worrying about causing discomfort to other passengers, and we could stop when we wanted. All in all, the very comfortable trip with the beautiful view reminded us anew of the incredible natural bounty Morocco enjoys, and our good fortune in being able to see this magnificent scenery once again.