From Er Rachidia to Erfoud
Walk around Erfoud
Don’t feel like typing, so this will be a short one.
Good thing the day was not that interesting anyway.
We woke up late and after a coffee made our way to the bus station.
The next bus to Erfoud would not be leaving till 14.00, so we headed back out for breakfast. Again we settled on pastries. We could have taken a grand taxi, but the taxi stand is on the other side of town, and we are too lazy today. We spend an hour online at a nice cafe instead. Sipping our coffees in the sunshine and checking world events.
It is a new year, but as we were expecting the world to end about a week ago, we are still feeling lost..
The bus ride was ok, the landscape was ok, the company was ok, expect for the screaming kids..
We hit proper desert and even saw some dunes along the way. Maadid, a small town before Erfoud (but already in between the big hotel complexes), looks like a nice old town stuck in yesteryears. A big kasbah in good condition with the men riding donkeys and the women covered in black from head to toe.
(Later we see a lot of women dresses like this in Erfoud. We were a bit surprised as in a touristy place, we expected people to maybe dress more liberal. But we guess it is practical in the dusty weather.)
Even before the bus makes it to Erfoud, the touts make it onto the bus and the questions begin.. We are so over this! Standard answers : Australia, English, first time in Morocco, No we don’t want a hotel, No desert, No thank you, No we don’t give away bonbons/steelos/cigarettes/Dirhams..
At arrival, more touts come on to the bus, preventing us from leaving. We eventually push through and ignore them while getting our bags. It feels bad to ignore everybody, as most are probably really nice and this is how they make their money, but it always ends up costing us.. and you can do better finding your own place to stay.
We walk back the way we came as we saw a hotel from the bus window. On checking the price it turns out to be 210Dh. Too pricey for us, so we keep going. On our way a guy coming up on a bicycle, jumps of and comes over. He wants to take us to a cheap hotel around the corner. Oh, well, we let him. If we don’t like it we can move on.
Hotel Merzouga turns out to be good, with hot showers and Wifi. With our bags dumped, we set out to familiarise ourselves with the town. Walking around, we come via a back street to the massive Ziz River. It is a wide river with lots of white washed rocks. However the water in it is only about a metre wide, and chocked with reeds. Still, it made a good view, and you could see the isolated peaks on the far side, covered with their radio, phone and television towers.
Working our way back to the centre of town, we found a very dusty section. Everything was white or grey. There were rough tents set up between the trees, and sharp bits of rock everywhere. Stopping off at one of the tents, we found out this is where they polish the marble fossils. The rock strewn everywhere were the off cuts. Going through the piles, we found many rocks that we would consider good. They may go through them later to extract each fossil, but with the amount there… Unfortunately they were too big to take with us.
A bit further on was a footy pitch, with a lot of kids playing. Expecting the stillo and dirhum thing, we went around it trying to ignore them. You just cant ignore rocks flying through the air at your head though. I am actually scared of the kids in Morocco. They are like packs of wild dogs, and I would not like to meet them after dark, or in a slightly remote area. Going back towards other people to escape them, one of the fossil workers came up with what he had been polishing. They were ammonites in a marble egg. Very pretty. He saw our reaction to his work, and invited us up to have a look at more that he had done. Most of this was done in sign language, as he spoke as much French as Andrew.
Here he pulled out many boxes of different sizes. There were tiny little fossils that you could hang on a necklace, through to massive bowls. Erford is famous for this, and a lot of the places around have massive slabs of the stuff. Either as steps, decoration, or even coffee tables. The whole family came in, and were happy watching us go through it oooing and ahhing. We finally succumbed, and bough a small bowl. It was such a good price, we didn’t even feel like haggling. It is nice to buy it direct.
Back at the main square, we were surprised by the fact they were making a big plaza area, complete with fountain. You would think they could fix up the roads and side walks before starting such an ambitious plan. Especially considering how valuable a commodity water is in the desert. Looking for dinner, we found out that Erford is quite an expensive town. Considering there are lots of restaurants, and now most tourists go straight to Merzouga, we thought it would be cheaper. Having said that, we still managed to find a cheap soup around the corner. I do like the Moroccan soup.