“Are you sure about this?” He asked. “Well maybe,” Me replied. Miles from Marrakech, we stood at the entrances to Imi N Ifri a natural wonder created by water and wind some 200 million years ago. Having met Boujemah, our driver and guide from Sun Trails for the first time that morning, we left the comfort of our air conditioned vehicle on our first venture outside of Marrakech. To the left, Boujeamah explained was an easy descent using sturdy cement stairs leading to the ground basin on one side of Imi N Ifri. To the right was an alternative approach. A steep, winding, longer, far less certain path of dirt, rock, scrub, gravel, shale, he described as “more interesting”. The better experience, but more difficult, not one that everyone might choose. “Which do you recommend,” Me asked. Boujemah shrugged, smiled and nodded to the right. As was the case with all of our adventures in Morocco, Boujemah was always right. He presented us to a local man, wiry, grandfatherly, with no English. “You aren’t coming with us? Me asked Boujemah. Oh no. “I will wait for you here. Your guide, he is very good”
“I can do this,” Me said. “Okay,” He replied. “Here’s the deal.” No stranger to my long list of physical limitations, weaknesses and history of injuries, “The minute you change your mind, we turn around and come back up.” The first five minutes on the narrow dirt path went reasonably well before things became more interesting. More challenging. Our guide was nimble and fleet of foot. Sandwiched between him and He, behind me, who was also moving easily undeterred by the narrow path, the incline or uneven footing, I did my best to appear nonchalant while I wondered if I might die here (always ready to embrace the dire and dramatic.) Then things became yet more challenging and my limitations apparent to both of them. Halfway down to the bottom I was not about to turn around.
Our guide, now a local hero in my eyes, watched patiently as I sat in the dirt again and again to reach the next boulder down or as extended a hand so I could balance on one foot to lamely hop to the next round stone. They allowed me my dignity when I rejected any help from either of them and scooched along with crab like hands on my rear end, making a dust cloud to reach the next foothold. Every moment held a split screen focus of challenge and wonderment as we looked around us at the beauty and mystery of this extraordinary place.
It had taken us far longer than would have been expected to reach the left side of Imi N ifri. Boujameh waved from the top of the cement steps happy to see us emerge from the cave into view. We waved back happy and tired. (He was happy. I was happy and tired.) In fact He had enjoyed himself immensely and looked ready to do it all over again. See me perspiring, covered in dust, splashed with mud, Boujameh asked “It was okay? You liked it?’ “Liked it?” Me said. ‘it was wonderful.” And yes, we would do it again. Another day.