Tuesday, April 20, 2010

MOROCCO TRIP - Day Eight - Erg Chigaga to Ouarzazate

OK, OK I know, by the time I actually get round to finishing my posts about our Morocco trip you could have gone there and back yourself! Sorry, life does tend to get in the way of blogging! So anyway, back to the desert.

We both slept like rocks in our Berber camp in the dunes, clearly this environment works for both of us. Dominick, being a goal driven kind of a guy got up at dawn specifically to climb to the top of the highest dune (300 meters) to get some photos of the sunrise.

Me, being a lazy creature, stayed in bed for an extra half an hour! I then got up and walked around the perimeters of the camp, reading the stories left in the sand by visitors during the night, seems there was quite a lot of traffic passing through from tiny beetles to lizards and various mammals that remain a mystery.
Dominick got his sunrise shots.

This has to be one of the most spell-binding places to wake up.

It was a real wrench to even think about leaving.

We ate breakfast in the midst of a sea of sand

And then it was time to climb aboard our trusty camels and set sail again. I think that Dominick would have been quite happy if he never had to sit on a camel again in his life but credit to him he did, in spite of some vicious saddle sores acquired the day before!

He was actually far more comfortable this time because we didn't have the baskets attached to the saddle.

I, of course, was just sitting there grinning like an idiot and wishing that this moment never had to end!

We even began to almost look as if we knew what we were doing, don't worry it is all an illusion and Muhammed was standing close by to grab hold of the lead rope after the photo was taken.

What makes you think I might be enjoying myself? (Told you I was grinning like an idiot!)

If you look carefully at this photo you will see that the camel beside Dominick's left knee does not have a lead rope on. That is Mkhanter, living up to his name again and strolling into the middle of the photo, well he didn't want to get left out and of course he then proceeded to get wonderfully tangled in the rope between Dominick's and my camel! You have got to love this guy, he is such a clown :)

All too soon our wonderful morning ride was over. Brahim and Said had driven out to meet us so we said our goodbyes to Muhammed and his wonderful team. With, inevitably a few more photos.

We got back into the Land Cruiser and set off. One area we drove across was a 40 kilometer stretch of dried lake bed which is part of the Paris Dakar route and is a highlight for all drivers. Those little dots you can see are several vehicles all racing each other.

Well those of you who know me will know that I have a bit of a 'thing' about driving and racing (blame my Dad!) so I was positively salivating at this point.
The distant dot is Brahim (our driver), in the foreground, to the left, is me, working out if I can run faster than him and steal the Cruiser!

However I actually didn't need to steal it. Can you believe this amazing guy actually handed it over graciously! So Brahim if you ever want to sell a couple of camels for a new wife - sign me up! Never let it be said that I'm a push-over, unless you are prepared to hand over your three month old Land Cruiser to me so that I can race it on the Paris Dakar route in the Sahara! In which case, I'm all yours! Who needs diamonds anyway??!!

So after I had stopped squealing like a school girl, we got on our way again.

Sadly we did have to leave the desert behind us but I have sworn, I will be back. This place has definitely captured my imagination and I must spend some more time here one day.

Of course the scenery everywhere in this amazing country never fails to impress.

We were heading for a town called Taznachkt but of course we kept having to stop for photo op's because the land was just so beautiful.

We were going to Taznachkt to have lunch at Said's sisters house. It was a very odd experience for a mouthy, 'in-your-face' western woman to visit someones house, eat delicious food that they have clearly spent a lot of time and effort preparing especially for you and yet never actually get to meet the person. I do try very hard not to pass judgment on other peoples cultures and traditions but being the only other woman in the situation this was a tough one for me. I did manage not to comment though! Dominick did ask after we had left how come we didn't get to meet his sister and thank her for the wonderful lunch and the explanation given was that she was too shy! R-I-G-H-T!!!
After lunch we visited a carpet making co-operative as Dominick had decided he wanted to get a couple of small carpets to give to friends. He was now extremely comfortable in the Moroccan mode of haggling over prices for everything you buy so I left him to drive a hard bargain and waited outside until he was done!

Our destination for the night was Ouarzazate, also known as the Hollywood of Morocco! Just before we reached the outskirts of the city Said explained that we were going to stop to get some gas at a gas station we were approaching. This in itself was quite unusual because throughout our entire trip all refueling and car maintenance had been done at times when we were not around. But as we pulled up to the gas station the mystery was solved, and this time it was Dominick who was squealing like a school girl!

Now this will only have relevance to those of you who are into really nasty horror movies, which I most definitely am not but the gas station was a total fake and had been built specifically to shoot a film called The Hills Have Eyes. Dominick loves horror movies so he was delighted to see this and rushed round taking pictures! Score for Brahim and Said - you've managed to delight both of us with two totally random things, in one day!

We eventually arrived at our riad in Ouarzazate after dark, with the slim new moon riding low in the night sky. Brahim was intrigued to know why I like looking at the moon so much so I explained to him that we see the moon sitting at a totally different angle in America and Europe compared to how you see it in Africa. He was very understanding with the crazy English lady and her moon fixation!
Our riad was a delightful maze of passages and stairways that were guaranteed to confuse but our room was beautiful and felt very opulent after the desert.

Photo Credits - CJT & Dominick V


Kathie Brown said...

Celeste, what wonder! You are a desert rat for sure. How did you get born in England? Were you, like me, dropped off by the stork in the wrong place? That's how I felt when we first moved to Idaho. I cracked up when I read about you racing the truck across the desert. Tell Dominick I love his sunrise shots. The sun seems to sit like a gemstone on the neck of the world! OH, and tell him he looks handsome in his turban or whatever you call it! ;)

Great post. Glad you held your tongue about the whole woman thing. I wouldn't want you to become a subject of one of those horror movies!

victorian inn bed and breakfast said...

The Morocco is famous for its sandy deserts which are the longest deserts in morocco.
There are so many amazing species are found in morocco.