08 November 2012

Coffee with Ishmael / Camp offers
Bus to M’Hamid
Madani’s Camp
Small Dune walk with Ruins

The morning turned out well.

The Dunes past M’Hamid

We are off to see the dunes.  Carrying our bags, we set off with high expectations of the adventure ahead of us.
The first stop was to the carpet shop we had spent so much time in yesterday, to say thank you for the hospitality.  Then to Hassan’s shop to thank him.  Hassan was sitting in the dark, and not looking too happy.  We think he had partied too much the night before.
From there we started walking to the minibus station.  We ran into Ishmael on the way, and were invited for tea.  He is working at a cafe at the moment, and it was no problem to sit there drinking free tea!  There was also another person there.  He has a camp at M’Hamid.  Ishmael set us up with him, but unfortunately, the language barrier was there.  We worked out that we were being invited to an exclusive camp at a very reduced price.  75euro a night for the two of us.  All inclusive and a free lift out there from Zagora.  This is probably a great deal, but just out of our price range, and he could not go lower.  However (as always) he knew someone else that has another camp.  Almost as good, but closer to town, and not right out in the sand dunes.  This sounded good, and we said we would think about it.
As we were walking on, we thought we saw Malaga as well, and said hello.  Turns out not to be him.  Then there was another person trying to get us to stay at his hotel in M’Hamid.  After extracting ourselves from him, we made it to the bus.  Some people here are like Hawks, once they get their talons into you, it is very hard to politely extract yourself.
Our bags were thrown onto the roof of the bus, and then it was hurry up and wait.  Makanoushki.  No problem.  Eventually we did get going, and headed off to the Sahara.  The views are spectacular as you go over ridges and the Draa valley spreads out in front of you.  Other than that, like most transport, it is cramped and not much fun.  Especially in older buses that have the fumes rising up in the back.  In this case we though we would asphyxiate before arriving.  At one stop, someone got onto the bus, and started talking to us.  It tuns out that he was trying to sell us on another hotel.  Cheap, Cheap.  Only 30Dh a night each.  We said we would think about it (a polite way of saying no), and he got back off the bus?!  It turns out that the Not Malaga person we had met earlier was on the bus.  He turned to us, and warned us that it is not what it seems.  We let him know that we had fallen for this scam before, and had no intention of staying there.  Then he started selling his camp to us.  There was a French woman that was going there for the second time, and recommended it.  The price was about right, and the promises sounded good.  Although after the price coming down, he jokingly banned us from having showers!  The only problem was that it was right out of town, and the bus would stop on the road 18km from M’Hamid, leaving us with about 5km to walk.  In sand with our bags.  If there was a way to leave the bags, we would have taken it, but as it is, it is just not feasible for us.  He understood, and wished us luck as he left.  Reiterating his warnings.
The bus reached the old Kasbah and let people off, as it had been doing all the way, and the driver asked if we wanted to get off as well.  This is the address from the Hawk.  He had given it to the driver to make sure we got off there.  We said we just wanted to go to the town.  The driver was not surprised.
On arriving in town, there is the standard flock of Hawks (Touts is their proper name I think), that flocked around the two new tourists.  Anna and I just wanted to get a few gulps of fresh air after the bus.  One of the people was the guy from earlier, but another person came up and said a few abrupt words, and everyone disappeared.
This person turned out to be Madani.  The one that Ishmael and his friend had set up for us.
We got loaded into a vehicle and driven out to the camp.  We were not too sure about this, as if we were not happy with the camp we would have to walk ourselves back into town to start again, however the camp was fine, and we decided to stay.
Dumping our bags in a room, we set out for a small walk around the area to stretch our legs.
Madani’s camp is about 2km from town, and on the edge of a long wide section of palm trees.  I still associate palms with tropical climates, and it is a blast seeing all these trees here with small dunes building up around their base.  It looks like the area used to be heavily inhabited and cultivated.  There are the palm trees everywhere, and signs of irrigation in the past, as well as a lot of ruined houses.  These are now just sand stops.  The sand blows up against them and stops.  Or in the case of the ones without roofs, the sand blows inside and stops.

Looks like we can’t get a drink here after all

Sand for Sale

The dunes around here are not that large, and spread out, yet it is still a sight to see.  Compared to the garbage around most towns, these were very pristine.  It looks like an area out of a resort,and we made the joke that around the corner of one tree, it would not be surprising to see an umbrella set up with Belgians sitting there sipping ice cold drinks from the nearby cocktail bar.
We made our way back for a brilliant Tangine for dinner.  After the Omelette that Madani had made us for lunch, you could have rolled us into bed.



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