Down the Draa Valley
On 23rd of March Michael and I go separate ways. He has to use his remaining time in Morocco wisely, make his way north to catch his ferry to make it in time back to Switzerland. New assignments in a new job are waiting to be tackled.
I for myself want to take it a bit easier from now on. I start by hanging around in the area of Tamnougalt and Agdz for another day before making it south the Draa valley once again. I shower and eat in the Auberge Chez Jacob, an old Kasbah, rejuvenated and built into a hotel. It is basically empty. just one French couple.
Later I speak to Lahcen the waiter. I invite him for a beer and he brings along a half empty bottle of Pastis. Sitting on the top terrace of Chez Jacob. He tells me about his family.
His father, berber from the mountain region, lost his eye in a mine explosion. Still had 2 wives and 9 children. 4 died. But still 5 left so not that bad. He wrote to the king to ask him what to do. And the king gave him a taxi, which is now being driven by one of Lahcen's brothers. Another brother, a sculptor married a Japanese artist who happened to be on vacation in Tamnougalt. Crazy story, but the kind of stuff that you want to hear when starring at the stars on the top of a terrace in the Draa Valley.
Going South it is again the children that make advances slow and interaction necessary and great fun.
Mohamed Ali and 50 dromedaries
The light is good, and there they are. 50 dromedaries Mohamed Ali and another guy are taking care of them. He explained where they where heading to. A place in the mountains. But I could not determine where exactly or why they were going there.
I arrive here on 25th late, very tired. The piste through the Draa valley which I have chosen as opposed to the road has taken its toll.
I am spending two evenings here mainly with Ali, but also Brahim, Youssef and Mohamed. With Ali now being my main contac in Zagora I will return whenever possible. Zagora is a kind of a centre in the South. Check the internet, check your vehicle and eat some great Tagine Kefta (Tagine with minced meat in a thick, spicy tomato sauce, topped with an egg) on the terrace of the Hotel/Restaurant des Amis. The place looks run down but the food is very good. I sleep in the Land Rover anyway.
Ali works in the shop next door to Des Amis. He cannot read or write. He enjoys my company and gives me insights into how things are working between tourists and locals and what is changing in Morocco. The changement of society away from tradition is going to be the prevailing subject whoever I talk to and not because I am raising it but because people are either proud of the change or reflect on the slowness of it.
The 26th, though the terrace is empty as everyone is inside watching the football, Morocco/Ghana. This nation and probably all Africa is mad about football.
On the 26th I have the Land Rover checked in the garage Chez Ben Karoum Mohamed, which is apparently famous here in the South with 4x4 enthusiasts.
It is good to have the confidence back before taking the vehicle to the desert.
Checked the wheel bearings, all the oils, discussed leaks, and greased whatever needed greasing. Sometimes talking stuff through is all it takes.
M'hamid and new English friends
On Saturday 26th amidst the hottest mid-day heat I leave Zagora heading south to M'hamid. While travelling the 100 or so kilometres I am being overtaken by 2 Discoverys and a Defender, all English number plates.
It is Bill (Discovery) leading the other two Mark and Kate (Discovery) and Stuart and Jannette (Defender). They are travelling through Morocco for a month and a half, while updating their story regularly on the internet. Their page is way more up to date then mine.
They invite me to join in for dinner and then it is an evening talking about driving the desert and gear and gear and GPS and driving the desert.
Not knowing which one of the pictures was taken first I believe to remember there was some funny discussion about preparing the sauce properly. Despite the fact that many cooks tried their luck we enjoyed an excellent spaghetti dinner.
Bill has travelled Morocco and parts of Africa extensively. He was very kind in supplying me with some way point information with regard to the next day's route. Furthermore we would drive the morning together and Bill would show me the direction to Foum-Zguid
Desert crossing M'hamid to Foum-Zguid
On my own through the desert.
Leaving Bill and the others I make my way west following the way points that Bill was so kind to supply me with. But desert driving is not all that difficult as long as no sand storms deteriorate your view, and road conditions not too. The heat is what exhausts the most. Keep drinking and allow as many rests as it takes to you and your vehicle! 6 litres of water down, but still, keep drinking!
Children once again. But very quite, full of shame. Nothing demanding in their behaviour.
A water bottle I give them is handed over from one boy to the other boy (boys first of course) but then over to the girls, who have problems drinking out of a bottle (as girls usually have).
When they talk to each other they talk in a very low, gentle, whispering voice. Showing their respect they give an indication about the decency of their upbringing. And all have impeccably white teeth.
Night camp in the desert, the pictures may go without many explanations (Evening, night, morning). The two who joined me after dinner suddenly appeared. "Guardia Maghreb?!" they introduced themselves. Mohamed (the one with the walkie talkie) and Ibrahim stayed with me for the rest of the evening.
They could laugh about the Bob Dylan that was on, especially his voice (which sounds Arabic at times). Some vache-qui-rit was left and I made them some tea. They had little intention to try the red wine I offered them. Each by himself would have loved it I guess.
Late they leave, making their way back to wherever they have come from. They promised to visit again next time I pass through here and camp here again which I intend to do.
Road from Tata to Igherm
I reach Foum-Zguid on the 29th of March. In Rachid's little welding shop I have the water-tank welded. It has fallen victim to the rattling and shaking on bad roads of the past couple of days, just broke at the edge. Bad manufacturing. The way Rashid welded it it probably needs rewelding at some stage. For now its is sealed and I can continue my journey.
After finishing the job Rachid has a great idea. "In Tourism you and I could do great business with the Land Rover". I explained him that the way he just tried to rip me off with the welding job I have no interest in doing business with him.
I reach Tata 160km to the west later that day, a nice laid-back town off the main tourist route. Worth coming back for I think. Checking the internet. The result of the day is that Heidrun may join in again, at her speed though.
Stay in Tata or continue the journey, I decide for the latter. I need to find a place to stay a bit longer. I have taken a great many pictures over the past couple of weeks which need processing (digital) and evaluating. On the web-page I am still in London. It is trailing too far behind.
I decide to make it to the coast, to Agadir, a big city with the facilities needed.
On the 30th I leave Tata drive north. Dramatic sceneries accompany me all day. Desert mountains and oasis valleys change. It is days like these that rank 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. The scenery is stunning, breathtaking. This is the desert made by god's own hands.
I reach Ingherm in the North the same day. The next day I cannot take anymore scenery especially as the Tata to Ingherm route has yielded everything imaginable even topping the M'hamid to Foum-Zguid and Draa Valley scenery. I would have to come back for the rest.
So I leave Tafraout and the mountains surrounding it for later and drive to Tiznit near the coast. Tafraout, Tiznit and the whole of the Souss region needs a lot more examining. I will be back. Making my way north after Tiznit to Agadir I cross Tifnit beach a small fishing village with a beach.
Tifnit beach, the first time
Tifnit, hippy beach says the guide book, so I give it a try. And I find "Hippies", or at least people who try to live the vagabond's life. There is Floh and Anna, Stefan, Anshelm and Florish (all German) and Roman and Jasmin (two Austrians). Why not fly the old Austrian flag and chill out a few days.
Finanlly on 4th of April I reach Agadir, work on the web-page and spend time in the city's cafes and bars and restaurants.