Southern Morocco, October 12, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Friday, October 12, 2007

Between Essaouira and Agadir we passed through hilly countryside of shrubby Argan trees, thorn trees that look like olive trees from whose nuts a flavorful medicinal oil is extracted.  But the nuts are only collected from the dung of the goats that climb the trees and eat the trees' tough fruits.  Yes, tree climbing goats - almost like something out of Doctor Seuss.  We spotted some of these mutants a short distance out of Agadir; now this is the stuff psychedelic Lariam dreams are made out of!  This being Morocco, the goatherd naturally came over demanding payment for our photos of his interestingly acrobatic flock. 
We stopped in Agadir, a large modern city that's also Morocco's biggest beach resort, to shop at a well-stocked Marjane hypermarket that was filled with French tourists.  We had lunch afterwards in the parking lot.  Being my turn on cook group I planned an alternative to the standard lunch diet of sliced cheese and fatty lunch meat on whatever starch available closely most resembled Wonder Bread.  At Marjane I bought the ingredients for a mixed salad and four spreads for baguette slices - green olive tapenade, bruschetta, sardine salad, and creamy blue cheese, actually all quite easy to throw together for lunch.  Perhaps I didn't provide detailed enough instructions on the appropriate way to eat this lunch because, to my horror, most in the group spread the baguette slices thickly with margarine, tossed all my spreads on top of their portions of green salad, and mixed them all into a homogenous mess. 
South of Agadir we passed through Tiznit and then over the relatively low Tizi-Migghert Pass in the Anti-Atlas Mountains into the Sahara Desert.  The landscape quickly changed from scrubby dry to absolutely barren, as it would continue to be for about a thousand miles south to Mauritania.  We picked a campsite off the road just south of Goulmime, our first true facility less "bush camp" of the trip.  We set up our tents, and Blair and I got to work on dinner. 
While standing under the glow of Daphne's exterior lights as I was cooking, I noticed in my peripheral vision an enormous insect moving around on the ground behind me and thought, "Wow, that's the most massive dung beetle I've ever seen."  When I turned around for a better look I noticed two pincers and a massive tail stinger on it.  Eek, a giant black scorpion!  Ian, our tour naturalist and a mature version of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, was quite fascinated, "Awww, she's a beauty, mate!" as he pushed it into a pot and moved it far from the truck.  
My truckmates' appalling assault on the tastebuds I described earlier was repeated at dinner.  My cooking motto had become "No more veggie slop" in response to the unimaginative one-dish meals of which we had been seeing so many.  So I made two Moroccan style salads, a cheesy risotto, and pot-roasted turkey breast with Sauce a L'Orange.  Most again took a few slices of meat, covered it with risotto, and smothered it with gravy.  Ian even topped it off with the two salads.  "That was really good, mate!" 
"Well, as long as you enjoyed it, I suppose," I thought. 
It was a long restless night during which I came to realize the cold I thought was keeping me awake was probably a sinus infection for which I should start taking an antibiotic.  I was also faced twice with the dilemma of whether or not to get up and brave the scorpions to put the fly on my tent during a couple brief rain episodes.
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