On Friday, August 21, 2020, Scottish explorer Alice Morrison embarked on the third and final leg of her journey through Morocco, a 78-day expedition that will take her team of local guides and beloved camels to 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) through the Atlas Mountains from Nador to Ouarzazate.
Originally from Edinburgh, Morrison spent much of his childhood in Africa, studied Arabic and Turkish at university, and competed in fierce land feats like the Marathon des Sables running, the Marathon de Bike Tour of Africa from Cairo to Cape Town and the Everest Trail. Ultra marathon race. Among other adventures, she recently became the first woman to walk along the Dra River from Ouarzazate to Oued Chbika before crossing the Sahara Desert to the Mauritanian border.
His books, “Dodge the elephants“and”Adventures in Morocco“Worth a visit, just like her BBC2 documentary series, “From Morocco to Timbuktu: an Arab adventure.” Follow his latest adventures by listening to him Alice in Wanderland Podcast or by checking his website, Youtube, Instagram or Twitter Updates pages as she completes her journey.
Below, Morrison shares some ideas on her adventures, tips for fellow travelers – learn some of the local language and dress modestly, to start – and other things she’s learned along the way. . (The following interview below has been edited for length, style and clarity).
What brought you to Morocco and led you to develop such a strong link with the country?
I came to Morocco to lead the Marathon des Sables, six marathons in six days through the Sahara Desert, carrying all your food and gear for a week on your back. For the middle leg, you need to run a double marathon, about 52 miles at a time. It’s a crucial race, in part because of the temperatures. It hit 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) when we made it.
I moved to Marrakech in January to train in the conditions – the race was in April – and in four months I managed to fall in love, not with a man, but with a whole country. The people here are friendly, warm, generous and hospitable. Because I speak Arabic and am quite an extrovert I always talk to people which can be very irritating I’m sure but it does mean that I meet a lot of people. Everyone I met was so nice, so friendly, and like, “Oh, come have a cup of tea.” And then you would have a cup of tea and they would tell you a little bit about how they lived or what they did.
When you move to a different country, you experience something new and different every day. I have lived in Africa from the age of six weeks until the age of eight and I think it gets in your blood. i have been here [in Morocco] six years now and the love I feel for this country has really deepened.
Are there any special precautions to be taken due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
Right now this side of the country is open, we will be in very remote areas and take a lot of precautions. My team of three guides and I will all be tested and take a large amount of masks with us. We will observe social distancing with everyone we meet, and we are not passing through any city, so it is highly unlikely that we will meet it. We all live far away from any Covid-19 incident, so we should agree.
The concern for us is that there is no way to go under the radar in Morocco, especially when we are going to have five camels and four people, we get attention and I broadcast and I write as we go. , so what we’re doing is no secret. It is best to have the authorities on your side, so my expedition organizer Jean-Pierre has visited many government offices, presented our trip dossier and explained what we will do in advance.
Do you have any advice for women considering a trip to Morocco?
I find traveling and living in Morocco very easy, very safe and very enjoyable, but I am 57 years old. I think for younger women you’ll face some degree of verbal harassment on the street – it’s usually things like, “Oh, you’re a beautiful gazelle” or “Oh, I love you, I do. want to marry you. He’s wearing, there’s no doubt about it. It’s tiring and something that will almost certainly happen, so you have to be at peace with it when you come.
I think the best way to approach this – and all of Morocco – is to make sure that every time you go out you are always relaxed, in a good frame of mind and that you have time. Don’t try to force yourself to do too much so that you can stop and relax if you start to get tired. Because if you are tired and tense up and react irritably to any situation – whether it is someone asking you to buy something, someone asking you to get on a taxi or someone who says “Oh, you are beautiful” – if you react in a negative and irritated way, you will have a bad experience. If you go out with an open heart, an open mind, smile at people and say “Salam al Aleichem” which means “peace be upon you,” honestly, you will have a great experience.
What was it like to cycle from Cairo to Cape Town?
Africa tour was the most amazing experience. We cycled a continent, through every kind of landscape you can imagine – the mountains of Ethiopia, the deserts of Namibia – and met people from all different African countries, all with different stories to tell. and different perspectives on life. We faced many real dangers – some in our group were held back by gunmen in northern Kenya, where there was a famine, and I managed to escape the accusation of an elephant savage, which was absolutely terrifying. But above all, it was the glory to be in nature for so long, to wake up every morning with an African sunrise and to eat your dinner with an African sunset. This kind of thing is indelibly imprinted on your soul and that beauty will always be a part of me.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your expeditions?
As a woman, the one thing I can do that men just can’t do in the areas I travel through is meet the women. We have spent a lot of time in places where it is impossible for a male adventurer, foreign or from the country, to be allowed to sit with the women and talk to them because culturally nomadic men and women do not mix. not with non-family members of the opposite sex. It just doesn’t happen here.
One of the things I’m really excited to do is tell the stories of the women I meet, stories about what it’s like to give birth when you live in the middle of the desert, how you educate your children, what you do. kitchen, what is it like to live your life raising animals or if you like being confined to your enclosures and the immediate surroundings. Are you bored, missing the company of friends, neighbors and other women, and what do you do? These are the kinds of things that I am really interested in discovering, the everyday lives of the people I meet. As an adventurous woman, I am given a sort of honorary status so I have the right to mingle with men and ask them questions. But what I can do that no male adventurer of any race would be able to do is hang out with women. And it’s a real privilege for me, an opportunity for me to give a voice to their stories outside their communities.