The smell of mule

I wrote this poem for my fellow travellers on a trek with Exodus in the Atlas mountains in Morocco, including an ascent of Mt Toubkal.

43 degrees the forecast said
And on the map the sun was red
Now while I like the sun a lot
I’m not quite sure about blistering hot
As I contemplated what to wear
I wondered if I’d need that thermal layer
Although I felt a bit of a prat
I packed the gloves and the woolly hat
As we stepped off the plane we were hit by the sun
Would trekking in this weather really be fun?

On the first day of walking my fears were confirmed
As the merciless sun on our pale faces burned
After the first ascent my calves were screaming
And the sweat down the middle of my back was streaming
But gradually the day became a little less tiring
And soon we were sat in the campsite relaxing
Though perversely the mules became more and more skittish
As we sat down to tea and biscuits – how British!
It was rather unnerving with them poking their nose in our tent
I think they were responsible for the pole that got bent
For some weird reason there wasn’t a spare
So Kerri and I ended up having to share
But it turned out that sharing a tent was quite cool
Since there’d be two of us to fight an inquisitive mule!


The second night’s camp had a panoramic view
Although the clifftop location entailed a precarious loo
But the howling wind caused more tents to rip
And the noise prevented us getting a decent night’s kip


But let’s return for a moment to the loo situation
Since it is after all a British obsession.
The toilet tent was a hole in the ground
With an intricate structure of rocks all around
Unfortunately the hole was rather petite
Which made it hard to pee without splashing your feet!

Hassan is a man who doesn’t do chat
But leave your bag in the open and it’s a sure bet that
He’ll have spotted the misdemeanour with his eagle eyes
And unleash a torrent of angry cries.
Now as we neared the end of the week
I became sure that Hassan has a malevolent streak
He made up a story that the clocks would go back
And made us reset our watches before hitting the sack
So we got up at five instead of at six
It turned out he was up to his devilish tricks
For it wasn’t the end of the summer season
He’d made us all get up early for absolutely no reason!

Now while Hassan doesn’t tend to say much as a rule
He has a dry sense of humour, so don’t let him fool
You into thinking he can’t come up with a joke
Just ask what to say to a female goat
And I don’t want to know what was going on in his head
When he decided to frogmarch poor Alwyn to bed!

Now I can’t finish my tale without mentioning the food
For meals cooked on a mountain it was pretty damn good
We had couscous and pasta, with carrots galore
Porridge and doughnuts and plenty more
But after walking all day we were easy to please
Not least with the highlight of fish, chips and peas!

The week was soon over, it went far too fast
But we packed in some good times and memories to last
The banter was plentiful, showers were few
But who cares if they’re smelly with such a great view
Of the mountains by day and the stars out at night
The Mt Toubkal trek was an utter delight.

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