The heat of the desert at 42oC was just too much for Poppy, at night only dropping into the 30s made sleeping very difficult so we cancelled out plan to cross the pistes of the desert SAS style off road and camp under the stars, and headed instead to the mountains. Leaving at 8am gave us the best chance of getting out of the desert in the bearable heat so another early start for us.
The drive was quite long as Merzouga is about 280km from our destination the mountain town of Azrou but we split the driving and swapped control of the music so the time passed easily specially when the road started to climb and the temperature began to moderate bit by bit. As we climbed we began to encounter quite dense cedar forests and windy roads a lovely change from the straight dusty hot roads of the desert.
We toured the mountains and the small towns for two days which gave us a great opportunity to properly wild camp, make fires for the evening chill and even befriend the odd donkey and friendly dogs, the roads were perfect for Poppy, sometimes decent tar, sometimes broken surfaces with potholes and sometimes just gravel tracks, she handled all of them with developing skill and the frequency of comments from me dropped away to nearly zero
We had gone north to avoid the region most affected by the earthquake so this gave me the chance to include Casablanca on our route. I had crossed China and Pakistan with a group of motorcycles five years before organised by Marc who now lives on the beach to the south of Casablanca sowe had a chance of a good lunch (thanks Marc).
We stayed in a community garden/ yoga studio/ campsite their showers + Washing machine were able to scrub up us and our gear after several days off grid.
On a walk along the beach the previous night there were probably about six or seven games of football underway, complete with pitch markings and referees, they played until the light faded
Our plans are often fluid as more information becomes available, in this case camping south of Casablanca was looking dodgy, suggestions that the dunes were not safe and police moving people on to a car park did not excite Poppy, but she was less nervous about the earthquake now time had passed so we went of a radical adjustment and decided to make a run for Marrakesh, but staying in a camp site rather than in the hotel room we had previously booked and been unable to cancel, so off to Marrakesh tomorrow !