I’m writing this from a rooftop terrace in the pitch dark with the stars above me. Apologies for typos!
We’re here: N31.85714 W4.28347. It’s a campsite in an oasis in a veritable desert, surrounded by palms. I kid you not.
Weather: we were in plain between the middle and high atlas mountains this
morning and it was COLD. Frozen puddles and a bit of ice on the road. We’re over
the mountains now, and it’s still cold! Full on sunshine all day though.
It’s hard to describe a day like today, and we’re off up the hill to a tiny one
room restaurant in a few minutes (where we’re hoping to get enough signal to
upload this) so I’ll keep it quick:
1. Walked through Midelt for a couple of km to see a carpet and upholstery
workshop set up and run by Franciscan nuns. We got the full tour from an honest
to god nun, passing between a few small rooms packed full of local women
learning the art (4 year apprenticeship) or making goods to sell. The final room
was the ‘display room’, in other words the shop. We were after a wool blanket,
but the price tag of 1800Dh left us a bit cold. We gave them 100Dh and a load of
colour pencils for the school they ran as a donation and legged it.#
2. We drove over the High Atlas. Most incredible scenery. A bit hard for me as
the driver to appreciate it as whenever we found somewhere to pull over, from
nowhere someone appeared and try to flog us stuff. We are now the proud owners
of a plaited palm leaf camel hanging from the rear view mirror, 10Dh and two
beers lighter. We were robbed, but the bloke showed us his hands which were in a
right old mess and I knew we were by far the better off.
3. We arrived in a small town called Meski, which is basically an oasis in the
desert, with a natural sprint water swimming pool (full of sacred fish, so no
chance of either of us going in it). Some local workers were digging a trench
across the road when we arrived, but a car and two donkeys made it over so I
went for it. Made it over easily. We’ve since had the full treatment: a tour of
the ruined Kasbah by Abdul, one of many local nippers, Berber Whiskey (tea) and
a carpet/rug/jewellery sales session, culminating in a done deal and a session on
the bongo drums.
The deal (negotiated by Julie, who has Scottish blood): two wool blankets for
700Dh, in exchange for a wind up radio, a solar phone charger, two USB memory
sticks, some trousers and some other items which we’d bought at Lidl (’nuff