I forgot to mention how wonderful the toilets were in the desert. Okay, so they weren’t exactly wonderful but they also weren’t just a hole in the ground either. They’d rigged up proper toilet seats with a pump mechanism and a biological liquid that you squeezed in and then kind of flushed. This is surrounded by a small metal frame and plastic sheets to keep the wind out. Imagine how much fun that is to do in the middle of the night, pitch black with a torch making the plastic frame see through!
Now isn’t that a great way to start today?! Haha. So it wasn’t really sooo bad, just smelly but if you’ve ever been to a music festival, or spent your Summer holidays on a farm in Hungary with no plumbing and lots of flies, then this experience wasn’t really any worse.
Anyhow, we packed up our stuff. Unfortunately, everything smelt of camel and sand was bloody everywhere. I had great fun putting my contact lenses back in with what felt like a sand dune worth of desert in each!
I spent so long, in fact, sorting out my eyes and having a wrestling match trying to get my sleeping bag back into its bag that I missed the moment of sunrise, though I still managed to get some great shots with really long shadows across the sand as the sun was still so low over the horizon.
So it was back onto the camels for the journey back out of the desert to Zagora. I opted to walk instead on the pretence that it would allow me to take more pictures and I needed the exercise. Paul switched camels onto the one that I rode the day before and boy did he regret that decision afterwards! So there was me feeling a lot better but the fun was only just beginning for him.
“Whoa! Your camel was a lot taller than the one I was on and that bloody boney hump!” He complained. “Don’t I just know it(!)” I empathised afterwards.
Well anyway we made it back out of the desert and had a welcome rest stop at a local hotel where I quenched my thirst with a nice ice cold cola. Yum!
Onto our next stop which was a Berber carpet shop. (Berbers are an ethnic group indigenous to this part of Africa.) One feature of a trip where you are being taken around by a local guide is that they will almost always arrange for to the group to stop off at a friendly shop. (Friendly to their pockets, that is.) This particular shop was arranged into large rooms where different groups of unsuspecting victims / tourists are told all about the types of carpets, who makes them, what to look out for etc whilst being proffered a glass of the local mint tea.
After having laid out what seems like a hundred rugs and carpets onto the floor surrounding us, the Berber seller giving the talk then finishes with “We are just as happy to tell you all this whether or not you buy anything from us…..though we would of course prefer if you did buy something!” After which he smiles and the browsing/haggling can begin. Most of us just did the browsing thing. Three of our group hung around for another thirty minutes buying things whilst the rest of us waited patiently outside being entertained by the local drunk/mad person whipping out his crown jewels and showing us his polishing technique! Well that’s certainly something that I’ve never seen on holiday before and, if I’m lucky, never will again! It was funny though!
Then it was back onto the road with a stop for lunch and back to the same place where we bought our booze on the way out. I treat myself to a packet of nice choccie biccies that end up lasting me a few days when I most need them.
We end our journey at Ait Benhaddou where films such as Gladiator and the Sheltering Sky were filmed. We don’t really have time to do a guided tour of any of the studios that we pass (which to be honest disappointed me as I love the movies!) but hurry on to the hotel where we are all dying to wash the sand out of all those places where sand shouldn't really stay for too long!
Our hotel is by a large hill on the sides of which are a village of small fortresses (Kasbahs.) We plan to climb to the top of the hill the next morning to get some great pictures.