I was relieved when the 4×4 finally pulled up in front of Kasbah du Toubkal’s office in Imlil, one of the many small villages in the Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. All throughout the whole 80 minutes drivc from Marrakech to Imlil, I was holding my breath and praying for dear life not to end that day as we navigate the narrow dirt roads leading up to the mountains. It reminded me so much of the Philippines’ rural areas; where a bus full of people and produce (usually crammed at the top of the vehicle) would pull over the side to the side road to let another vehicle pass by. One wrong turn and either can stumble down the deep ravines prominently scaring travellers like me who dare to explore the High Atlas Mountains.
We were met by Igdem, a cheerful, young Berber who works at the Kasbah already for several years. He looks as innocent and inhibited as his (Imlil) village but this young man is an expert skier and tour guide (as I have learned later). I shrieked in delight when I saw his donkey, which I planned to ride to the 15-minute ascend to the Kasbah.
“How cute is your donkey! But can it really carry me to the top?” I asked him while he strapped our bags and myself at the back of the small animal.
“It’s not a donkey, it’s a mule!” he answered with a look that says “has this little Asian not seen a mule before?” I was too ashamed of my stupidity that I just laughed it off, in a proper Asian way.
The mule went it’s merry way up to Kasbah du Toubkal, a luxe mountain retreat that costs me two days of hard work every night. This was my second time in Morocco in one year. On my first visit, I wasn’t able to acquire an accommodation because the Kasbah has at least three months waiting list. At the end of our stay, I was very glad to have booked this hotel because my husband was able to get over his culture shock of Marrakech. The mild climate of the mountain and the hospitality of the Berber people are two things you won’t often experience in Marrakech.