Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Errachadia to Merzouga - commentary

This post will be delayed as we are apparently out of range for the little mini modem we borrowed and there appear to be no other wireless networks nearby.
We set off from Errachidia yesterday morning and watched the countryside grow increasingly desert like as we went along. Except that our route took us alongside a river course resulting in a narrow swath of greenery and habitation running the length of the valley.

We stopped a couple of times but were immediately accosted by would be guides. Their opening gambit is usually to ask where you are from and if you answer that they always know enough about your country to keep the conversation going and it also allows them to establish whether you speak French or English. I have managed to get rid of several characters by saying we are from Russia. As we got further south there were fewer other tourists to share the attention.

Our instructions were to turn left immediately after crossing a bridge 5 km out of town. This was in fact a barely discernible track marked by short painted posts placed at 100 yard intervals. I wasa just a tiny bit nervous given the low clearance of our car but it wasn’t that bad and we could see our destination in the distance looking very much like you might expect an oasis to look, a low brown walled compound encircling a small forest rising out of a featureless rocky plain, a low ridge of red sand dunes in the far distance(the effect somewhat undermined by the presence of a nearby pair of communications towers). We were in time for a late lunch and then sat around the pool, which is being maintained for use by Germans only; even El wasn’t desperate enough to get in.

It is truly peaceful here, the only sound that of birds (OK I lie, I can hear a generator or maybe the pool pump humming off in the distance, but you can tune that out).

Dinner was delicious lamb tagine that came with quince raisins and sesame seeds. At lunch we had our first wine in 85 hours and more again at dinner. Meknes appears to be their wine growing region but you can never tell from the label what grapes they are using. Last night’s wine was a little sweet and we only got through half a bottle. We chatted with another couple who turned out to be a Belgian opera loving accountant and a younger Russian lady. We didn’t ask how they met. We did learn that the incredible cathederal that Gaudi designed and began creating in Barcelona before he died has undergone considerable work since we saw it in 2005. So we will have to include that in our day in Barcelona.

This afternoon we will trek into the desert on camel and sleep under the stars and be rudely awakened the next morning to admire the sunrise. We were going to tack on another day here to chill but have decided that two days of chilling is plenty. We would rather be back on the road dodging donkey carts and engaging in tests of wills with purveyors of low grade silver.


Jenny C said...

I really like your writing style Seamus! Food so far sounds amazing...

Country Girl said...

That last paragraph is priceless, Seamus. I can imagine you both dodging donkey carts and engaging in tests of wills with purveyors of low grade silver!