We headed to another gorge for more photos only to find swarms of European tourists in their khakis and short sleeve button-down shirts infesting the scenery. As we stood at the base of two shear cliffs (more than 1000 feet on either side), looking up at the size and grandeur of the cliffs actually caused vertigo. Unfortunately, without a wide angle lens, it was extremely difficult to capture its grandeur. I was surprised to see no climbers working their way up… until three brave souls appeared with gear in hand. We left before they began their ascent.
After the second gorge, we embarked on a lengthy journey out toward the desert. On the way, we stopped for lunch at a road side café. Yousseff and I played billiards on a small table with miniature plastic balls. The rules were different here… A scratch results in two consecutive shots by your opponent. After something of a miserable game (damn pockets are small) I scratched on the eight ball and Yousseff put me away.
After lunch we stopped at a renowned store to look for rugs. The men greeted us eagerly and Immediately sat us downfor a quick lesson on rug making. This was clearly their selling process and we were being turned. They then brought us tea because, “friendship is more important than sales”. As we began tea, two workers started the rug parade. Ted showed the most interest and became their first target. Later, they pulled Jeff into a separate room where they quickly forced him into a rug he was surprise to purchase. “I never thought they’d take such a low offer” he exclaimed as he walked away. I was the final victim moving the sales guy down from 34,000 dirham to 4,400 dirham (about $540). I wonder if someone has ever paid 34,000 dirham for a rug like mine…
We arrived in Merzouga (the sandy desert) about an hour before sunset. There, we dropped Youssef and our gear at a hotel at the foot of the desert and prepared for our next adventure. We met out with another traveler from The Isle of Wight (southern England), Gee. Yes, his name was Gee… like, “what up Gee?” or “golly Gee” or “Gees up hoes down”. He was a 58 year old single man traveling through as much of Morocco as he could afford for 8 weeks
We met out desert guide, Ali who proceeded to help us mount our camels. Jeff, the lightest of the bunch, was first to go. He was assigned to the “pack camel” who was particularly unhappy with the process and bellowed violently. Jeff claims this was a consequence of the additional 3.5 pounds of food his camel was carrying. Ted and I knew better. Camels just don’t like Jeff.
Once we loaded up, Ali guided our four camel caravan on a two hour journey through the desert. As we slowly moved through the sand dunes, the sun set behind us. The sand turned a deep red all around us and we sat mesmerized by the beauty of our surroundings. This was arguably the most spectacular moment of the trip.