Well……what can I say. Morocco is throwing us many curve balls. The descriptions in the itinerary just do not do justice to the array of different sights, sounds and smells along the way.
Our drive from Midelt saw changes in the geological time scale which my basic photography was unable to capture well. However here are my attempts to capture the strata, the High Atlas mountains, the passes and the valleys and oasis. Way beyond the simplistic descriptions of primary school geography lessons….though they have stood me in good stead.
Date palms laden with the yet to be tasted fresh dates and the glimpses of eucalypts are everywhere. The Ziz Valley Oasis is HUGE!
Roadside coffee and cigarette stops for Brahim are always interesting, and there are plenty of pulloffs to take photos or admire the fossil sellers near Efoud – B’s home town.
Arriving at Riad du Sud late in the afternoon gave us a bit of exploring time around the complex, watching the moon rising etc before the poolside dinner with accompanying local music.
Not a bad day’s adventure before an early morning sunrise shoot including animal tracks from the depths of the night. And today there was more in store as I sat waiting under an olive tree in the courtyard to get a bit of wifi connection.
Local driver Mahammoud collected us and we bounced our way behind the sand dunes and through the gibber plains and changing landscapes of mining country. We saw flamingoes in the distance on the lake, and watched the large numbers of camels slowly lumber towards their family areas.
Fascinated by the date palms in the nearby oasis, we learnt about the irrigation roster for the small market garden plots which lie in and around the vast tracts of palms. There were plentiful supplies of okra, corn, capsicum, stone fruit and almond trees. The rather exotic Garden Cafe was a hit….and we saw a novel way of displaying your business card.
The now defunct lead mine; military installations near the Algerian border; local fossil finds; and a fascinating visit to the local bedouin family for mint tea and a chance to learn about their cemetery practices – and fleetingly see the desert fox in their tent before it tucked its ears in; African dancers, then the Nora Cafe for Bedouin pizza for the non gfs among us and a delicious vegetable tagine for me.
With a few hours to kill in the afternoon before our scheduled camel ride up the sand dunes to watch the sunset, we made good use of the pool and poolside entertainment of the young group of Spanish partygoers.
The dromedary (NOT known as camels here) ride produced mixed reactions from our little troupe. Going up was all fun and photos – including the stereotypical shadows on the dunes. Sadly one lady on a smaller camel at the back screamed in fear and had to be removed and taken back on a quad bike…..!
The walking up the steep incline from the camel resting spot was a challenge, especially for LSM, but the 45 minute quiet time at the top watching the sun gently melt in to the horizon under the clouds was well worth the sand blasting from the wind and the slipping and sliding to get there.
Aaah, but the going down was a different ball game! The strain of holding on for dear life while the camels lurched forward and downward took its toll on one of the group. One vowed in loud and frequent tones …never again! And one got stuck getting off at the end because his hips seized up. And one loved it! My face covering and the easy gait of my one-humped friend and comfy saddle might have helped! It was me….I loved it!
We walked, hobbled, or limped in to the desert camp after the ride and were sooooooo impressed to find the luxury glamping description in the brochure was really true. The tents were outfitted with a roomy ensuite, and separate toilet, and the bed and living space was terrific. So many cushions with bling it looked like a film set. A hot shower and shampooing the sand out, and we were ready to tackle the amazing buffet Moroccan style.
After such a long and active day, the chance to choose our own meal from such a wide choice was bliss. We waddled back to our tents and settled in for a well-earned sleep on the comfy beds when the drumming entertainment started. Many encores later it stopped at midnight. LSM managed to drift off well before then.
What an adventure!