After Ouarzazate we drove south, over a desolate small mountain range whose name escapes me, to the Draa Valley. If we'd kept going south we would have come very soon to the Erg Chigaga dunes of the Sahara. The Sahara! To be so near! I have to admit that there were little swings of insanity in my trip-planning where I imagined us camel trekking with Clementine hanging out all mellow in the Ergo on one or the other of our backs. Ha ha. As if! In my defense, I always knew these visions were absurd and so we didn't attempt it, but the desert is where most tourists head coming down this way. There are "nomad camp" overnights -- a few hours in by camel, see the sunset, sleep, sunrise, then a few hours back out. Sounds wonderful. Maybe when the bean is bigger.
The region is austere in the extreme, and strangely beautiful and affecting. I've never been a desert lover particularly, and I distinctly recall that when I watched Babel, the scenes shot in this region, I thought, "Why would anyone want to go there?" But ... actually being there, it's an experience. The space, I don't know, some quality of the sky. I can't explain it. It asserts itself. It is.
Clementine enjoyed some roadside jewelry shopping, and while I picked out some hands of Fatima, she adopted a little leather camel that was later discovered to be entirely treacherous with straight pins. Oops. Danger-camel! We'll just have that back now, sweetie. Thanks.
We only went as far south as the kasbah of Tamnougalt, a few miles beyond the town of Agdz.
|(not my photo; swiped from the net)|
Vast sections of Tamnougalt are in terrible disrepair, but there is a restored part with a guesthouse, where we spent a night. It was a bit rudimentary, but very atmospheric.
Walking within the walls:
If you squint at the above, you can see Clementine between Jim and our guide Mohammed. What you can't really tell is that she is playing with the dirt. Our little dirt-loving girl.
She did not want to move along.
But was coaxed, and found more places to play.
(I tried packing that door in my suitcase, but it didn't *quite* fit.)
The kasbah has a really cool roof terrace where meals are served overlooking a palm grove,
mountains off in the distance.
In the evening we went out for a drive and walk in the nearby village.
The sun set. The sky got all "Oooh, look what I can do."
With Mohammed and Tariq:
Back to the kasbah; C fell asleep, so Jim and I had a floor picnic in our room;
it was simple -- a Berber omelet cooked in a tagine,
and some fruit. All lovely and candle-lit.
Kasbah dogs woke us repeatedly in the night.
And kasbah kids saw us off with sticks. Surly tots.
We headed back north, stopping briefly in Agdz to have a look around.
It has a bit of an Old West meets Africa feel to it, don't you think? Just needs some saloon doors :-)
Ah, these can be the saloon doors:
Next stop: Ait Benhaddou, the most famous of kasbahs, and Telouet, which was our favorite, plus a lovely overnight at a guesthouse called I Rocha. And oh yeah: camels!