Our next stop was the Forest of Cedars, between Ilfrane and Azrou. We left the main highway and drove about 3k into the national forest. Our campsite was not as exclusive as we had imagined and the forest glades were dotted with families enjoying their Sunday in the shady cool of the upland forest. The breeze kept the 34 degrees temperature feeling comfortable. Horsemen were offering rides into the forest, the horses’ saddles decorated in bright colours.
Once we were parked we were visited by a family of apes, some of them taking food from the children’s hands. We also shared that part of the forest with some sheep and the shepherd and five or six dogs. When the sun went down all the families packed up and left, the temperature had dropped to a more comfortable 23°. We were enjoying watching the apes in the quiet of the forest when, out of nowhere, appeared a battered Renault roaring through the trees. The driver was a trader and soon had his wares displayed on a rug on the ground. I bought a bracelet, I actually wanted two the same but unfortunately he only had one. The trader stayed in the camp and ate with Ray and Hamid. An hour or so later he offered me another bracelet, similar to the one I had bought earlier. I can’t think where he got it from, we were miles from anywhere – and it wasn’t a huge sale, 20D = £1.40.
We left the Forest of Cedar early the following morning, travelling south – but not before buying a trinket from another trader in an equally dilapidated car who appeared at our campsite at the crack of dawn. As we left, he waved us a cheerful goodbye after clearing the track of larger stones so we could drive by.