How a Scottish explorer has been stuck in lockdown in the Atlas Mountains

A Scottish explorer stuck in lockdown in a remote village in the Atlas mountains in Morocco is so bored she has taken to renaming the local camels with Scottish names.
Alice Morrison who is in lockdown in the Atlas Mountains,Alice Morrison who is in lockdown in the Atlas Mountains,
Alice Morrison who is in lockdown in the Atlas Mountains,

Quarantine in the tiny Berber village, Imlil, in the heart of the Atlas Mountains 569 miles away from Casablanca, has been difficult for Edinburgh native and adventurer Alice Morrison.

For more than 13 weeks, Ms Morrison could not leave the family compound, where she lives with 24 others, except when shopping for essentials.

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She said: “Not being able to go out for exercise was awful and I felt so trapped.”

However, Ms Morrison has managed to keep her and the locals’ spirits up by bringing a bit of Scottish culture to the remote village.

As well as giving the camels that helped her cross 1,000 miles of the Sahara Scottish names – Hamish, Alasdair, Hector, Hunter and Callum – Ms Morrison has spent her time in Imlil writing and teaching the local children the Gay Gordons.

She said: “I’ve always taken the time to do sports with them, but I thought I’d ramp it up a bit so I decided that, during Ramadan, I will teach them The Gay Gordons.

“First, we just did the steps and they were counting down in Arabic and chanting away and we were able to follow the dance with the music off my phone.

“It went so well and they loved it.”

Since teaching the local kids the go-to Ceilidh dance, Ms Morrison has noticed the little girls have been practicing the moves by themselves in their compound’s yard.

“When I came out of my friend’s house after dinner, I saw the little girls practising in the yard,” she said.

“It was so sweet and it’s those human connections that really make a difference.”

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Ms Morrison had also been embracing Scottish culture in rural Morocco by flying the saltire outside her door alongside the Moroccan flag.

She said: “It’s quite difficult as I stand out here and I felt like I needed a boost, so all through lockdown I’ve had a Moroccan flag and a Scottish flag outside my door.”

Ms Morrison has also been observing the cultural differences between Imlil and Scotland.

She has found that living on a family compound, with people spanning in age from one to 93, has been a great help in ensuring she does not suffer from lockdown blues.

“I’m not really isolated and it’s really brought in that idea that we are all in this together and everyone has got their own things which they find difficult,” she said.

The adventurer is also incredibly grateful for acts of kindness she has seen in Edinburgh whilst her and her brother, who is in the Caribbean, are both far away from their parents who live in Currie.

She said: “This woman, Katie Robertson, who works for the NHS in Edinburgh and who I’ve spoken to for literally two minutes, messaged me on Facebook after I mentioned in a talk I was worried about being away from my parents and said she wasn’t far from my parents, gave me her mobile phone number and said if I needed anything to let her know.

“It was such a nice gesture. I think that feeling of community is what I also have here in Morocco and it’s nice to see that being there for my parents in Edinburgh as well.”

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