Monday, October 7, 2013

Tea In the Sahara

Today was amazing. We started out going from the lovely Hotel Xaluca to south of Erfoud to see a factory where they take blocks of fossil rich stone and make marble sinks, tables, etc with fossilized shells in them. Very interesting and beautiful. After that we went back to Erfoud for lunch. The whole town was very excited because they were getting ready for a visit from the king. For lunch we had what Jamal called Moroccan pizza or medfouna. It's a ball of dough they first flatten  and then put chicken or other meats with herbs and onions between two pieces. They pinch the sides together and cook it in a wood fired oven like pizza. Very tasty! Evidently they only make it in a few places in the south here. 

After lunch we stopped at the date market briefly to see what they had because it's date season here. Then we headed north to get turbans for later and our luggage to head to Merzourga in the Sahara. Noelle got a couple of white pieces to cover her head and arms. I got a blue turban like the Berber people here in the south wear. We saw more and more people lining up by the side of the road to see the king. All the employees at Hotel Xaluca were out front when we got there to get our luggage, so we decided to wait as well. After about ten minutes a huge caravan of cars began to pass, including a giant Mercedes carrying Mohammed VI of Morocco, whom we saw ever so briefly. Now we can say we've seen a king. So that happened. 

After the cars passed, we got into our new desert car, a 4WD that took us and Jamal (who came with us as a tourist) to Merzourga in the Sahara. As it turns out, the Sahara looks a lot like you'd expect from the movies. After a short rest, Noelle and I got on our camels and took our camel ride into the desert. We had a private trip, although in practice there were a lot of other tourists here as well. I learned a couple important things: 1. It is very hard to take pictures from a moving camel. 2. The autofocus of the camera has difficulty figuring out what to do with the desert. 

Our camel ride wasn't super long, but we  got back to find we had our own tents to ourselves with no one nearby in our own private camp. They made a fire for us and we had tea in the Sahara, which made me squee a little bit. For dinner we had chicken and vegetables couscous and beef tagine which were delicious as I have come to expect. 

After dinner we had a special treat. Jamal knew that I enjoyed Gnaoua music and he arranged for some local musicians to come and perform for us in our camp! So awesome!
Every now and then rain sprinkles would fall on us, which I guess is pretty uncommon, it being a desert and all.  

We stayed up talking for a long time until it was time to go to sleep. Noelle and I decided to sleep under the stars because it was very hot inside. I woke up around 2:30 and the clouds had gone and Orion and the Milky Way were above us. It was so beautiful I had to get my tripod and camera. This is how I ended the evening, sitting in the sugar fine sand, taking long exposures and writing this post.

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