I'm not one to turn back.
The initial plan was to leave Marrakesch and swing around the southern edge of the Atlas mountains. Some time in the Sahara, a few days in Fez and then back to Casablanca. An anti clockwise loop of Morocco, either side of the range.
We headed out past Ouarzazate in the cheapest blue rental.
Side of the road salesmen roused and waved, promoting their offering of rose oil products, continuing in the rear view mirror, albeit more forcefully.
I'd heard that a little further along, near Kalaat M'Gouna, was the Valley of Roses.
I was determined to push on to the source, not risking watered down fake perfume and hand cremes.
On reaching the turn, we headed left and down onto the narrow gravel road, rattling and blinking through the dust, more inside than out.
The area is known for its profusion of blooms, festivals that celebrate the petal harvest and master perfumers who travel to acquire the finest fragrances.
Possibly it would be a little further on?
It is barren, save for bursts of green terraces at settlements near a spring, with mini sluices coursing water to where it would be best used. The square mud and rock homes, with an incidental small window, match the fawn color of the barren, heat hazed hills rising behind.
Struggling, thin white trunks with random leaves grow in roadside clumps, alongside plowed soil patches of irregular shape.
We'd travel for a while, passing through similar scenery and settlements, indistinguishable from the last. It was hard to believe this was the Valley of the Roses - perhaps a little further on, although we had been on the road for an hour now.
I assumed that my leisurely car and fuel preserving speed was the reason we hadn't seen anything yet. It would have to be over the next identical rise.
A junction and a whim to give ourselves another ten minutes gave us the inspiration to turn left, with the view that, should we find nothing, we might be able to push on through to our next destination, the Dades Valley, along the same track.
At the first rise of our new route stood a family of three who greeted us as we slowly passed, checked us smilingly, then asked us to stop. With no rose red liquid in plastic bottles or jewelry for sale, it seemed like a fair place to breath and regather.
They coaxed their bewildered son, who was probably about 12 years old, towards the car with a bag of oranges. He was in fresh clothes, neat and clean for travel to the next village and we were the ideal transport on this empty road where few cars passed. He climbed in the back seat, they seemed lovely, he seemed scared and we were happy to help out.
In my loudest, stilted Berber they managed to understand that I planned to make it to the Dades Valley using this route, but would be happy to drop him off along the way.
Which seemed to be an issue, as it seems no one had ever made it to the Dades Valley following that route, even by camel.
Not that it was a problem as they could show me how to get there. But we would have to turn around, back towards where we had been.
In fact, they were happy to come along if I could drop them off at Boulmaine Dades.
As their son was meant to be going the other way, they removed him from the car and climbed into his place behind us.
We did a u-turn, waved goodbye to him and headed back in the opposite direction.
I could still see him standing there when we drove up the next hill and the dust settled.
Traveling back, things looked different in the dying light.
I shared our story of being unsuccessful in searching for the roses.
They smiled knowingly, offering us a segment of one of their sons oranges.