Taxi from Erfoud to Rissani
Walk around Rissani
Heading out to do the route of the Kasbahs today. Not the actual route, but at least the town where it starts. Rissani. Taking our bags, with the people from the hotel wishing us fair well, we rounded the corner to the grand taxi stand. Here we managed to find a taxi easily, but the price was 25Dh. Apparently there is a 10Dh bag tax. We have had that occasionally, and were not worried enough to argue about it. However we did wonder how much it had cost the person arriving in the taxi that took a large, live sheep out of the boot. They did clean the boot before we put our bags in, as the sheep had not enjoyed the trip that much. Apparently the driver had not heard him baaing that he needed a rest stop.
The taxi left quickly (about 5 minutes later) and we did the short drive to the next town. Rissani is less than 20km from Erfoud, so it didn’t take that long. The road trip was pretty much the same, passing some large Kasbahs that are 4 star hotels. Other than this, it is dry, dusty and palm trees everywhere. The dust is so fine it gets into everything, and covers every inch of the place. People are waging constant war with it. Washing down their front doorsteps, and even the streets to stop it invading their houses.
Arriving at the Grand Taxi station just off from the main centre of town, we saw how much Rissani has grown in the last 5 years. In our book (from 5 years ago) it says that the town is basically a big Kasbah with 1/4 of the people in town living there. Other than this, there was only one main street to the town. Now you cannot even find the Kasbah easily and there are streets and houses everywhere.
Looking at the Hotel directly across the road from the taxi stop, we decided to see how much it was. 220 for a room with TV and air conditioning. Otherwise a basic room was 160Dh. This was too much for us, so we went to find a cheaper place. The guy started haggling with us, and dropped the price to 140, but we didn’t want to go above 120. Taking our bags we started towards the main section of town. About 20m away, a guy came up on a bike saying the hotel would take the 120. Done. It is clean and simple. Plenty of room, and hopefully hot showers. We scored a bargain, as there are a couple of Canadians staying here. Just for the day, and not sleeping that are paying the full price.
Accommodation sorted, we struck out to discover town. Feeling a bit peckish, we had a look at the prices for food. It is expensive here, so close to Tourist Ground Central (Merzouga). However we saw a place that had a sign up for what looked to be meat pies. Going up, we were invited in to see people making “Moroccan Pizza” Known as Pide in Australian Kebab shops. The stuffing is put into dough, covered and baked. Asking the price, we were told it was 100Dh for a two person one. No thanks. Then we were offered to eat at his hotel restaurant, or just see his shop. He was working for Hotel Panoramic. This was the hotel we had originally planned to stay in. With touts like this fellow we were glad we had found a different hotel. Especially after ditching him and going back to the pizza shop and finding out it was 55Dh! Not a bad commission for him, if we had accepted! Thinking we will save that for tomorrow night, we left and went into the markets.
Rissani has a souk twice a week, and luckily for us, today is one of them. There is mainly fruit an vegetables, with some sheep and goats being traded just outside the main area (apparently there is a donkey and animal souk, but we didn’t see it). Inside the main area there are different sections as usual. Spaced throughout there are numerous tourist shops, and we were dragged into one with the promise that everything was 5Dh as he was closing up. This turned out to be a rather novel (to us) way of getting customers in, as nothing was 5Dh! We were not too surprised, and added this to the list of things said to get tourists into shops. Now waiting for “If you don’t come in, I am going to follow you all day!” That done, we could wander around in peace.
Picking up veggies for lunch tomorrow, we came to one stall. There is nothing to differentiate it from any other. The boxes of produce are all out. Built up and around a small hole that the vendor stands in, with his scales and buckets in front of him. The prices were reasonable, and we picked up plenty of good food for a picnic tomorrow. Other sections of the market included shoe repairs and manufacture, metal workers, that were doing all their grinding and welding not 10 metres away from the fresh produce. This was interesting, as there were all kinds of spiky bits, and half constructed things from railings to doors. Woven baskets took up an entire street, and Anna had to go investigate these to compare them to the ones from Elcho where she was taught to weave. They were basically the same construction, but different patterns. Using Raffia to set out the designs. There was the woodworking section, where people were gluing, sanding, turning and similar. The smell here was great, there is nothing like the smell of sanded wood. From here we progressed to the butchers. Finding happy cats eating the offcuts, with rows of goats heads lining the bench tops. As said before, just a standard Moroccan market!
Now needing lunch as the lungs, hearts and kidneys sitting out on display were whetting our appetites, we stopped off for a cheap omelette. This ended up being a bit pricier than we had expected, but was not too bad. Not wanting to go through the central area with all the touts around, we headed North looking for the Kasbah. We think we found it on the other side of a dry canal that is now used as a garbage dump, and headed into the narrow winding alley ways. It wasn’t that big, but was good for a look around. In places you can see the separation of wealth quite clearly. On one side there is a crumbling wall that is badly in need of repair, with a door that is hung up by its padlock and a piece of string. On the other is a new mansion that is brilliantly painted, with elaborate grills over the windows, and tiled entryway. Popping out the other side, we entered one of the new suburbs. This was mainly under construction, and you can see the cement skeletons of the houses being put up. Between this frame the bricks go in, and then the cement coating, finally the render and paint job. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to construction. Some are hollow shells that have the front perfectly finished, yet still lacking roof, windows or even internal floors. Others are barely touched on the outside, but sealed up with the lights on inside, with the blankets airing on the window sills.
Right next door to this is the Old Old Kasbah.
Walking over to it, we found the source of the really fine dust that is covering everything in town. The disintegrating remains of an old town are here. Now there is nothing left other than the occasional wall and the dust of aeons. The town was built upon itself, and each new addition was on top of the old. Countless centuries it has provided shelter to the people living in the area, until it was abandoned in favour of new construction techniques, bigger houses and more space in the new city. It was interesting to walk through, and again, quite large. There were still some details left, but mostly it was just mounds of dirt. After going through it, we headed back to town. Here some children came up, and as said in other posts, I am kinda scared of the kids in Morocco. These three came up with big rocks in one hand, and the other hand open and upwards, asking for Steelos and money. When we said no, we were insulted in Arabic, causing me to worry even more. They started following us, but before they could cause too much trouble, a man out the front of his house started yelling at them and telling them to go away. This was great, and the first time we have seen anyone yelling at the kids for harassing tourists. I am just glad he was there.
We went and checked out the main entrance to town, a rather large Gate very ornately done, and wandered around the other side of town. This was pretty much more of the same. There are many push bikes here as well, and outside a school, it almost looked the same as a Dutch railway station, with them all lined up in neat rows. Fashion here has gone back to being mainly black dresses for the women, but occasionally you see the odd floral sheet being worn. We also came up with a reason for the colourful socks. If you are supposed to be able to recognise your wife across a crowded room, and they are all wearing the same thing, look at the socks! Or you could say that your wife has gone out in the good linen today.
Back at the hotel, we had an expensive coffee and orange juice to wash down the dust, and asked about wifi. Apparently it will be 20Dh, so if you haggle too much on the price of the room, they will get the money somewhere… Still, we had a good talk to the Canadian from earlier, and realised just how much more travelling we have to do. However he did give us our next potential destination. Uganda.