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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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The other desert Merzouga, Morocco, Saturday, 10 January 2009 3:00am

I'm in the Sahara! Yes, I was supposed to be in the Todra Gorge today, but when we arrived at the hotel before noon (!), I had a walk around and decided to ask if we could press on to the desert. It was overcast and the colors in the gorge were dull browns. Just not my color palette.

Ali, the manager, strongly encouraged me to spend the night in the Todra Gorge and go on to the desert the next day, because the timing would be better. If I arrived at the bivouac at 11am instead of 4pm, I would have time for a longer tour of the dunes. But I insisted on continuing, so we departed after lunch.

We passed though Errachidia, where they've decorated the whole province with flags and banners, repainted the fronts of the buildings, and cleaned the streets in anticipation of a visit from the king.

We stopped to pick up some water in Erfoud, and I wondered whether Ali (the driver) was back across the pass from Marrakesh (it's his hometown). We forded a river to leave town. I've seen road signs all over Morocco warning that sections of the road may be underwater, but this is the first time that the water has actually been there.

There were signs of recent rain all over. In the stony desert, there were standing puddles and damp patches. In the sandy desert, there were marks made by individual droplets of rain.

We arrived just before 4 and I dropped off my luggage and was immediately introduced to my camel, Lspar.

We rode across the golden sands and the black rock up to the giant pink dunes. There's a lake here. At first I dismissed it as a mirage, but as we got closer, my camel guide Hamaddi confirmed "lac". The area right around the lake has trees and water plants, and birds were relatively plentiful.

We watched the sun set near the lake. I had worried that it would be overcast the whole time, but it cleared up just in time for sundown. The pink of the dunes and the purple of the mesas that separate us from Algeria were gorgeous.

Ali, the driver, turns out to be here as well. He says that it took some extra time getting Mo and Julia to Marrakesh, because the pass was only allowing one car at a time, but that they got there. He picked up a couple there and brought them out here.

Most enterprising: bringing a bagful of souvenirs on the sunset came ride to offer to sell to me just before we head back to camp.

Dismissed as coincidence: 22 seeds in the first orange of dessert in the desert. It seems that I'm not allergic to the oranges here. I wonder if it's that we use a pesticide or fertilizer in the US that causes my allergy, or if I'm done being allergic to them. The allergy showed up fairly suddenly, so I'm hopeful that it might go away as suddenly.

Comments

OMG peach breeze (Anonymously) Monday, 12 January 2009 1:01am

you're in the sahara!!!!

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