Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Rissani to Ouarzazate from the South

Many beautiful views were enjoyed on the return to Ouarzazate which in part passed through the Valley of the Draa River. We lunched at an outdoor restaurant nestled in the hillside and enjoyed a tajine of lamb, and wonderful melon for dessert.

Along the way, there was a bit of excitement doing desert donuts in the 4 x 4 and being caught with the windows down in a small sandstorm. After a long, long drive, we arrive at our hotel where the kids (and adults) can finally relax and swim.

Trekking out on camelback

The journey back was a bit calmer because we were more familiar with the beasts on which we were riding. That is, except for Q, who was quite queasy and uneasy on his camel's back. Maggie bravely requested her own camel, and to be last in line for the return trip. That way there would be no camel behind her breathing on her neck.

A night in the desert

After hopping off our camels, who were very calm and steadfast, we entered our Berber camp. It was quite the international community in our "square". We met people from Holland, Italy, and New Zealand. We stretched out on mats in the center of our square while we waited for our hosts to cook dinner. Q and M climbed up the nearby dune.

After dinner, we gazed at the stars for a little bit and then climbed into our "tent" for the night. With the big wool blanket in front of the door, it was a bit hot and stuffy inside, but we kept it down because there was a fair amount of sand blowing in the wind. The howling of the wind was a little unsettling for me, and I had a hard time sleeping, but it was cool lying in the desert listening to the wind and feel the sand. I was hoping it wouldn't turn into a big storm (it didn't). (However, a few nights later, another guide we met took a group into the desert during a sandstorm. She said it was practically impossible to see. I'm glad we didn't have to deal with that. We (M and I)actually did pack and wear ski goggles on our way into the desert because even on our trek a fair bit of sand was blowing across the dunes into our faces.)

In the morning Q and I began climbing the very high dune next to our camp. I got maybe 1/3 to 1/2 up, it was very tiring as you would slide as you step and it was very steep. It was like doing a stairmaster. Q made it to the top, and you can see below the pictures he took from the peak. Afterwards, he ran down the mountain of sand, which is also a bit scary because of its steepness. Soon after, he vomited three times as he exerted himself so much with no water or food. The poor little dude was queasy the whole time riding back on his camel.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Into the desert

After packing our backpacks with essentials and leaving our luggage at the nearby hotel, we became acquainted of our camels and began our journey into the desert. I was hoping that camels couldn't sense fear, or if they did, they didn't react to it.

Our guide leads us into the desert.

Leaving the comforts of the hotel behind (can be seen in distance).

Matt's camel comes undone.

Tying the camels back together.

Lining back up.

String on my camel breaks.

Where is Maggie? She's not on her camel.

Here she is with dad, the camel behind her was getting too "friendly" with her.

Route to Rissani

Along the way to Rissani we saw women doing laundry in the creek, and a fossil shop where fossils are polished and big slabs of fossils are turned into tables and sinks. We had lunch with Hassan's family before entering the gates to the desert.

It turns out Quinn and Said have a similar taste in music, Akon fans.

The gate to the desert.

This is the flat desert, known as the Reg. If you click on the picture, you can just make out the desert of dunes in the distance, known as the Erg.

These are the dunes, with a couple of cafe tables set up (if you click on the picture you see them).

Gorges of the Todra

The gorges that were cut by the Todra River were beautiful orange red cliffs. We had an opportunity to follow the Todra on foot for a while. It was nice to get out and move.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Castes made of sand

Remembering that Jimi Hendrix had spent some time in Morocco, mainly in Essaouira, I couldn't help thinking of his song Castles Made of Sand as we passed by the kasbahs and village houses that were in various stages of eroding back into the sand and dirt.