Far away and long ago Berber traditions were built on these rocky mountainsides in Morocco.
The feeling of isolation is still strong, although connections are growing.
The sounds that remind me of life in the High Atlas Mountains are mule hooves scraping on exposed rock, long harvesting sticks striking branches in walnut trees, the overlapping calls-to-prayer from adjacent villages echoing through the canyons, a distant, ancient truck straining up a long grade (on one of the few roads), Berber greetings that I did not understand, and laughter.
Life here requires hard work and toughness. And good mules. The trails that connect villages to markets are well-established, but steep and narrow. Mules carry most of the supplies to the villages and they carry the local products back to the markets.
Agriculture on these steep mountains seems impractical, but their terraces are productive. Irrigation water is delivered in ditches from streams in the high peaks. Apples and walnuts provide income while other crops provide food and tea for the villagers.
Homes are constructed out of the materials at hand. Electricity has reached some villages and satellite dishes bring news, entertainment, and European football.
The villages are separated by long quiet walks. The vegetation is very sparse so the scenery is stark. The mind has plenty of time to wander.
Centuries and generations have strengthened village traditions, but there is also interest in new connections, by some residents. Visitors are ignored or treated with respect. A local guide is very helpful for explaining the culture and for communications.
The High Atlas Mountains are a quiet and powerful place. They are a place well worth exploring. Accommodations range from luxurious to rustic, but the experiences are all very rich.