Guided by the Best

We need to tell you a little bit more about our fantastic guide, Mohammad, pictured with us and another great guide, Hossein, below.

Three guides helped us throughout our trip, but Shannon and I spent the most time hiking with Mohammad (the one with the orange hat). This guy was a walking, talking, joking encyclopedia of knowledge about history, culture, religion, the Moroccan monarchy, flora, fauna, geography, you name it. He seemed to be able to speak on nearly any subject we brought up. He was born and raised in a rural Chleh village on the other side of the mountains from our hiking expedition, the eldest son in a long line of civil servants. He eventually decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. Hoping to serve society, he earned a law degree, but he hated life in an office doing paperwork. He left his law office and enrolled in guide school.

Near the end of a grueling seven months of guide school, would-be mountain tour guides have to pass a physical examination as well as multiple written exams covering the flora, fauna, language, history, and culture of the people of Morocco. For the physical exam, candidates must run approximately 33 miles up and down the mountains during the hottest time of the year. The top 30 finishers in a class of 60-90 move on to the written exams. You can imagine that it’s a real bummer to run all that way only to finish 31st. This is why Mohammad says that good guides do not come from the cities. “People from the cities are too fat. They cannot keep up with the mountain people. You will only see skinny guides.” It came in handy for him on our trip, too. A friend of ours saw a discarded Chleh teapot sitting at the bottom of the ravine. She joked with him that she’d like to have it…30 seconds later he had bounded down the ravine and back up, teapot in hand. When we told him how impressed we were with his rock-jumping abilities, he laughed and quietly replied that he wished he were as agile as the mountain goats we saw higher up above us on the face of the mountain.

Oh, and one last thing just in case you’re not already in awe of this guy: he speaks a good 5 or 6 languages in addition to multiple Chleh tribal dialects and does hilarious impressions of nearly every English accent you’ve ever heard. His British accent was especially good, but it was his Scottish brogue that had Shannon in stitches.

We’ll leave you with some memorable quotes from Mohammed:

“People in a hurry are already in the graveyard.”

“There is no need to buy food. You can just wander around and pick things to eat.” — as he handed us some fresh figs, pomegranates, and dates he had just collected from nearby trees.

“Never take food from someone using their left hand to pass it to you. Remember: in Morocco, left hand is for toilet. Right hand is for food.”

This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , , .
Bookmark the permalink.
Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

librarian, writer/editor, floundering guitarist, breakfast addict

mobile software developer, dog owner, hiker, adventure racer, enemy of bureaucracy
Follow sam2themax on Twitter Subscribe to this blog