back to civilization
17.10.2014 - 17.10.2014 90 °F
This morning at about 6:15 one of the staff members assigned to us, walked around the encampment making just enough noise to awaken those of us who were interested in climbing a dune to seeing the sun rise over the Sahara. I was already awake, and had been most of the night. So I got up and dressed in yesterday's dirty clothes and trudged up several dunes with the assistance of one of the guides. It is hard work climbing sand dunes and I was exhausted and winded by the time I arrived at a high enough point. We stood there for quite a while waiting for the sun to come up over Algeria, which is only 30 miles away from camp. Now I can say I've done that. But what I cannot say is that I then enjoyed a hot shower in my luxury tent. Once again, no hot water. So I did the best I could, packed up my stuff, dined on an OK breakfast (the coffee was good) and off we went in our SUVs, back to Merzouga to board the bus. Destination: Ouarzazate.
Getting there involved another long day on the bus. The scenery was beautiful though, riding through the Todra Gorges looking out over steep canyon walls. We drove through a lot of interesting Berber towns and saw a acres of rich farmland with olive trees and date palms. Roses are a big deal around here. They export 50% of their rose crop (to France? not sure) to manufacture perfume.
Armani jokes that Ouarzazate is pronounced something like "where's it at" but we shortened it to its airport abbreviation, "OZZ". OZZ is a Berber town of approx. 150,000 and it is known for its film studios. Quite a few desert scenes are shot in Morocco. According to Armani, H2 has been very instrumental in bringing that industry to his country - or maybe he invented the film industry - I'm not clear on that point. It's a pleasant enough town and our hotel was very nice. It is more like a compound of condos, each with a large bedroom and a separate sitting room. Best of all - hot water! We got here in time to get situated, shower, and then go to dinner which was an extensive buffet.
About the food - it is mostly excellent and usually includes olives. They serve olives with every meal and incorporate them into their dishes when they can. We have noticed that we keep seeing the same four dishes listed on the restaurant menus. I think that at some point they discovered that tourists like 1) lemon chicken tagine with olives, 2) kefka (small meatballs) tagine, 3) chicken brochettes, and 4) Berber omelettes (a fluffy egg dish with lots of veggies baked in). These are the four dishes that keep reappearing. FYI, a tagine is the pottery cookware used everywhere to slow-cook food. As for me, I am particularly fond of the lemon chicken with olives. I'll probably buy a tagine on Amazon.com when I get home.
Well this is my last night in Morocco and I am anxious to get home. Although I am not looking forward to the two long flights to get there, the torture of modern air travel is a small price to pay for what I have experienced on this trip. The most important thing is the people. Moroccans are friendly, kind, peaceful, patient and are wonderful hosts. I hope to return, but I probably don't need to relive the Sahara camel experience. Instead, I think I'd go back to Fez. . . well maybe Marrakech too. There's a lot more to see in those cities.