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The Atlas Mountains:”The mountain of mountains”

The Mountain of Mountains

Crossing the Atlas Mountains that separate the coast of Morocco from the Sahara (it's redundant to say Sahara desert because Sahara means desert). The name Atlas Mountains refers to the Greek god Atlas, one of the Titans, who swallowed his Olympian children, including Zeus, to maintain his power in the pantheon. Zeus's mother tricked Atlas by giving him a stone to swallow. Atlas regurgitated his siblings and they overthrew the Titans to become the Greek gods from mythology we know: Zues, Poseidon, Athena, Aphrodite and all their brothers and sisters.

Boulders on the Atlas Mountains | Atlas supporting the celestial sphere

As for Atlas, he was condemned to carry the sky--not the world as is commonly believed--on his shoulders forever. The Atlas Mountains with its massive geological features and boulders refer both to the stone he swallowed in place of Zues and to the story that Atlas is actually the Atlas Mountains because he was turned into a rocky mountain by the hero Perseus, who, to punish Atlas for his inhospitality, showed him the Gorgon's head, the sight of which turned men to stone.

Julie & Stefan on top of the Tizin Tichka Pass

You may well say that sounds like it would make a fantastic movie and many movies have been made about the Olympians and stories from Greek mythology, which is appropriate because we have arrived in Ouarzazate, Morocco's movie central. This involved crossing the zig-zag road from Marrakech and reaching the summit (2260 metres) of the highest peak along the Tizin Tichka Road. The Atlas Mountains rise to a height of 4166 metres, the highest mountains in North Africa. Ouarzazate is a dream come true for a cinephile like myself. We've already spotted two movie studios and locations of Hollywood productions such as Gladiator and King of Kings.

The glorious Atlas Mountains (Panoramic view)

The Atlas Mountains' landscape was spectacular; the stone colours ranged from terracotta (iron ore), green (copper), and white. The boulders towered above us. Berber villages appeared along the mountainside continuously. Although the road is generally impassable in winter when the depth of snow closes the mountain road, supply trucks manage to get through while the Berbers grow produce locally and maintain their lifestyles in the cold winters. The men manage to keep warm in their heavy winter weight djellabas. The road is urgently undergoing significant upgrades to the bitumen and widening of the lanes.

Berber villages & the mountain of mountains

The Atlas Mountains speak silently, powerfully and timelessly by themselves. They have their own voice that speaks across the ages. The Mountain of Mountains, as the local Amazigh people name them, attest to the powers of nature and the natural world. They have existed for millenia and will exist for many more millenia. Even the gods of Greek mythology would be impressed.



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(Camera movement due to extremely windy conditions)


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