Scorpions, bed bugs and big cops, oh my!
Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
149Trip End Jun 15, 2012
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We were headed for the gorges to the north of Ouarzazate, Berber wailing on the car stereo and heat blasting us like a hundred giant hair dryers from the open windows
Dades Gorge is less spectacular than the first, but the drive was better because of the drama of the Kasbahs built on the cliff tops and into the sheer walls of the canyon. Nomadic tribes occupied the roads as they went from one canyon branch to another with their donkeys, goats, veiled women and wild-eyed kids. Herders took over entire stretches of highway with hundreds of goats that would swallow caravans of cars as they moved past at a goat-trot pace. We drove up to the panorama of the gorge as seen from a café clinging to the side of the rock, which threatened to fall off with the smallest shake of the land
Later, after checking into our hotel just below the panorama, we cleaned up and waited for dinner. At 7:30 it was served, and we found a crowd of people from all different parts of the world, but we distinctly heard American English spoken by an older couple across the room. I made a mental note to have a chat with them, as we haven’t met an American for some time. The rest of the guests did not look like they were interested in conversation. I don’t know how I know this, but I can always tell. The dinner was pretty good, but the soup was an interesting concoction that I could not place. It was like having watery oatmeal without any sugar, but since it was soup we added a bit of salt, which made it taste pretty good. An Englishman at the next table told the waiter that the soup was absolutely horrible. I wonder what extra ingredient he would get in his main course. Note to self: never, ever insult a chef on his food until you have eaten his last
I do believe we encountered bed bugs for the first time of our trip. The girls woke to several ‘mosquito’ bites, but the place had no mosquitoes. Mason and I had none. For the first time in the four months of travel, we have encountered what everybody back home warned us about, the terror of bedbugs. We slept in nine countries: in hotels, motels, apartments, riads, flats, peoples’ floors and couches, on pads on the desert floor, and we had not, until now, encountered a single bedbug. What a little thing to worry about. That very morning Estela woke up and found a smashed scorpion on her pillow. Now that’s something to worry about. But bedbugs?
The next morning we talked for a while to the American couple we saw the night before. They were a retired couple from Seattle, but were traveling in our style, perhaps a little more rugged. They were taking taxis, buses and rides in vans from people they met, and were cruising all over the country with just two small bags. The man, Larry, and his small Asian wife, Suzie, were living the way more people should travel, in my opinion. They were full of stories of chance encounters with people they had met in other places, had been to more places than we had in our two weeks in Morocco and were making a real adventure out of it
The rest of our trip was uneventful. We visited the old Kasbah in Ouarzazate, which reminded us all of the Blair Witch house: the plain brand of creepy. I freaked the girls out by putting my face in a corner when they walked into a room (if you’ve seen the movie it would freak you out too). From room to room we wandered, but saw nothing to interest any of us. We were soon on our way once again.
Aziz was a great driver, as I’ve said before, but the Moroccan police had him on edge. The cops here are all tall, handsome and fit. They almost certainly have a thick, black mustache, but always have a neatly pressed uniform, with a sidearm stowed in a white holster on their belts. They have a quiet stoicism; they usually stand on the sides of the roads with their hands clasped behind their backs and quietly observe their surroundings. When you enter a town from the desert they will either wave you through or point to the edge of the road to ask you a question
We had a very late lunch in the High Atlas Mountains, and hours later pulled into Marrakech. The girls started their online schooling and didn’t finish until early morning.