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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Latest trip log (Sorry politicos)

Off to the Sahara desert today. It was quite a bus ride we drove through many small towns and villages that dot the High Atlas mountains. After a while they all started to looked similar, mostly pueblo style construction made of what appeared to be mud and straw with bamboo roofing frames. Donkeys pulling carts, kids playing soccer on a rocky field. What I found most interesting though was the vast plains of really pretty much nothing then in the middle of nowhere there would be a house with a big earthen wall built around it called a casbah (see “the clash” For more details) .



From a distance you could see inside the walls was a large garden. I guess it is a status symbol as when a tour guide asked if I had a house with a garden and I said yes I had a house, but no garden. You could tell he was let down as if saying “Don’t worry kid, one day you can get a garden” .



Although something like 98% of the population is Muslim I thought the people were quite progressive. Most houses had a satellite dish out beside the house. and even listened to modern American music. I had to chuckle as I heard one song that is actually censored on the local Knoxville radio station being played unedited here.



The road system was pretty good (On lane each way) and seemed to hum along nicely. You shared the road with cars, heavily loaded buses, trucks, a lot of scooters and bicycles.



Often you would also people just walking along the side of the road or goat and sheep herders out in the middle of nothing. And when I say nothing I mean nothing. No houses, no civilization for miles and miles, just rocky fields but there they would be, just out there trucking along. as if it was nothing. It also looked like they were setting up for irrigation as there was what appeared to be pumping stations all along side of the highways.



Police were few and far between. In fact, the only ones I saw were either at the palace or at checkpoints in the middle of nowhere. I never could understand what they were doing out there as the traffic wasn't that heavy and all they would have us do is stop the vehicle and then go on. It was like some mid highway break check.


It seems like the Berber people (or tribe) are a large and proud part of the population. Most of the people we spoke with seemed to find a way of working it into the conversation. They loved to tell about their hand made carpets and their sweet mint tea they call “Berber Whiskey”. They say you can tell order Berber woman as they often have tattoos down the middle of their face. My guide told me this was a tradition started years ago when children were very young, if they were kidnapped, their families could still recognize them years or decade later. It was a tradition that just stuck around. Some woman wear vials, some do not. If the face is not covered it means they are single and depending on the color of clothing they wore you could see if they had children or not. Interesting.






. The camel trek to our nomad tent encampment was a nice change from the bus trip to the edge of the desert. The desert was expansive, just like out of “Laurence of Arabia” Big, spectacular dunes, scenic vistas and sunsets.








Possibly its just me but the sky seemed an extra dark blue in the desert. The night was so clear you could see the various satellites as they drifted across the night sky, I almost slept out under the stars as I lay in the sand and looked up to the heavens for hours after sunset. It was very settling. There was no moon out at night and a finger nail moon could only be seen just previous to sunrise.

               My first time night skiing on a sand dune was shall we say sloooooooow.




My guide was a nomad who had lived there his entire life and had begun doing tours about 20 years ago. He said he never much liked school so he just became a guide. He claimed to know tons of languages and rattled off about 10 different ones off the top of his head.We talked about life, family and such. He kept saying "Clear mind" in a foreign language. I took it as a compliment.  An interesting fellow to say the least.

1 comment:

  1. Stacie! I've never heard you sounding so poetic..almost as if the land and the people were romancing you! Sounds like a beautiful trip. And of course I love the pic of your night skiing on the dunes. Now I truly am jealous! Enjoy the rest of your trip.
    Suz

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