Trip Start Sep 12, 2009
21Trip End Ongoing
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After filling the hire wreck with petrol we started bombing our way through the Dades Valley, which seems to have had a lot of money thrown at it, with lots of new schools and Mosques, the young guys looking like they are up for trouble, the young girls looking very studious carrying their books and papers in a very prim and proper fashion. Mostly it was a long urban sprawl that follows the fertile valley floor where there appears to be a constant Oasis of water just below the surface of the scrubby desert
Free trip to Timbuktoo and visit the stars, if you can correctly guess the contents of this donkey cart
We found a pleasant isolated roadside restaurant to stop for lunch. We were the only clients and there was just one guy there to serve us, Chrisy as you can probably guess was in his kitchen in seconds helping to (learning how to cook Moroccan Berber style) prepare our lunch of a Berber omelette, Moroccan Salad, Chicken Tajine and a massive bowl of fruit for desert, all of course served with delicious mint tea.
Heading off in the direction of Erfoud the road started to narrow as we moved further towards the desert proper and real camel country. We didn't have a great map, and the unofficial Moroccan guides had removed the English road signs, they sit and wait for you to become confused and offer to show the way .The main reason to come to this part of the country is Camel trekking, We were late and needed to be on some camels to trek out in the desert that night, but the guide said we would never find the place without him.
Anyway good chap that he was, we arrived at a desert Kasbah, you know those ones built of mud, and with in half an hour he had four camels and a guide ready to take us to are Nomad tent two hours out in the desert.
We jumped aboard our desert ships, you do this when they are sitting down and they stand up once you are on top, a bit worrying at first, but we soon got into the rhythm as they strode out into the massive sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, The sun was going down throwing huge shadows of the dunes across the desert. We arrived at our camp after dark, God knows how our guide got us there, I couldn’t even see the feet of my camel. They settled us in to our Nomad tents that were set out in an enclosed square with a table and eating area in the centre. Where we had, yet again another Tajine, only this one had the extra spice of the desert ,,, sand!
Unfortunately Chris had become pretty ill at this point, with bad stomach cramps, and what I can only describe as double-ended sickness. The toilets out here were 500 yards in any direction, and you dig a whole with your foot. After seeing Chis’s antics I can now understand why this is called the trots.
Meanwhile the rest of us got on intimate terms with a bottle of Brandy that someone had thoughtfully brought with them.
Up early in the morning to view the sunrise over the dunes, really special, Chrisy was still feeling pretty bad, poor thing, this was no place to be ill, with no bathrooms or comfort of any sort. She had to get on that camel for the return trip, and being a top chick that’s exactly what she did.
So we returned to the desert Kasbah, back over the dunes in the early morning sun. The camels were great, we all thought that they would be really smelly but they weren’t oddly enough. The only problem I had with the camels was their odd stride, which was pretty bumpy especially down hill, a lot worse for blokes ! Personally I can really see why horses are so popular!
We drove back towards Marrakech, This time through the Draa Valley. Here there are acres and acres and acres of date palms, pretty amazing to behold.
We stayed the night at Zagora in a great French colonial hotel, which had that added ingredient that we had all been looking for, A BAR Yippee. So of course we all went to bed early NOT.
We drove next to Telouet in the HIgh Atlas, which had a 20 km dodgy mountain road to it and found ourselves a pleasant hostel to stay in. Chrisy and I went for a stroll and came across some ruins which we walked through. Marvelling at the grandiose off the place. After a while we bumped into a Morracan whose family owns the place and he took us into a locked up part through a stairwell. He opened the doors into this beautiful deserted palace. The place had once belonged to a Moroccan chieftain "Glaouis" who controlled the pass over the atlas. We later saw pictures of him with Churchill, De Gaulle, General Patton and many other famous leaders. It would appear that he rather sided with the French in 1954 When Morocco went independent, and so lost his status, and here we are standing in his palace!!!
After the general stuff of getting back to Marrakech, then the train to Rabat, we finally arrived back home to Sharkita, who was happily safe and sound in Bou Regreg Marina.
We are still carrying out repairs and upgrades, but We are ready to go back to sea. The Island of Graciosa awaits us, 400 miles to the south west. The weather window is good, so all being well, we will be leaving here on the high tide at noon tomorrow.30/10/09 So wish us fair winds and calm seas, and email us a few comments so we know how you are.
All the best
Simon and Chrissy