Thursday, 10 January 2013
Day 38 Erfud to Ouarzazate
Today we travelled from Erfud to Ouarzazate and our first stop was at a fossil shop where slabs of marble containing fossils from an ancient lake bed are processed. We passed the site on the way to the dunes last night. It was interesting to hear how the fossils were formed, to learn how they process the slabs and to see the vast array of items produced.
We drove through a town where the weekly market was being held and it was fascinating to see the range of products, people, transport and dress.
The countryside was very barren and rocky, with lots of small villages, and large plantations of date palms. In the Sahara region at least the houses are all adobe, and quickly fall into disrepair if not occupied.
We took a side trip to the Todra Gorge, which was awesome.
In the afternoon, we also drove through the Dades Valley, known as the valley of figs.
We stopped at a traditional kasbah for tea with an Imam and he spent some time explaining how much study is involved in becoming an Imam and what his duties are. He also spent some time answering our questions and it was so interesting.
For much of the day we travelled parallel with the High Atlas Mountains, which are so rugged and craggy, towering over the surrounding rocky desert.
Tonight we are in a very nice hotel, and have a suite of rooms. Fancy!
A couple of general observations about Morocco.
It is very rare not to have a village in view, even if its only in the distance.
You never see women sitting if cafes - it is always men. Any women we've seen seem to be going somewhere or doing something, whereas its men who are standing around or enjoying the cafe life. Hassan, our guide, tells us that the men are actually doing business, as the cafe is the office! There were groups of women sitting together in Bhalil where the cave houses were, but they were making buttons for sale as they chatted.
And Morocco seems to have very good mobile phone coverage - the nomad girl we visited yesterday had a phone, shepherds seemingly in the middle of nowhere were talking on their phones. Admittedly distances are nowhere as great as in Australia, but it is impressive.