Thursday, 17 September 2009

The Sahara

Getting out of Todra was tough, particularly after the floods. Or maybe that was just an excuse. Either way, we couldn't leave the evening of the floods, as I would have liked, so we stayed another
night. No taxi would go for any reasonable sum of money and we had missed the only bus of the day. We even missed the bus the next morning due to delays getting out of the gorge and to the bus terminal
in Tinerhir, but managed to find an alternate, indirect bus that involved changing buses halfway. The main thing is that we were on our way!
The bus journey was visually spectacular. All sorts of changing terrain, from high mountain passes to lonely desert landscapes. Shame about the smells - these local buses stank! - and the touting. More about the touting in another post, as I promised before. But yes, horrible smells, crowded and sweaty, a bus driver that drove part of the way with the door open to ventilate the bus, and a kid that threw up on Ted. And the kid's mom who stole Ted's water to wash the kid.

The bus got us to the desert village of Rissani, where we had to haggle our way through a small gang of taxi drivers to get a ride to Merzouga, where we had booked accomodation. This much fabled Chez Isabelle was what we had to look forward to - our oasis of normalcy in this desert of crazy heat, aggressive touting and bad odours. Perhaps it didn't live up to it's reputation, but in relation to all else, it was just what we needed.

We spent a night in Merzouga, a little village alongside bright orange sand dunes. We decided to head to the dunes soon after we put our bags down and got some lunch in us. Amazing stuff! Sand so fine that you
can clearly see the tracks of even the smallest insects. And then the storm hit. Probably a continuation of the same storm that brought on the flash floods the day before; this storm whipped up sand and blasted us with hot, heavy rain and high winds. Great fun!

We walked back an hour or so later, soaked to the bone. As darkness fell the storm worsened and lightning lit up the sky above the dunes.  After getting dry, we whiled the evening away over good dates, a tagine and a drumming session with our hosts. A combination of a djembe, a tom tom and a small Moroccan goatskin drum, called something I can not remember.

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