Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3/16/14 Day 59 Erg Chebbi Desert

Waking up at 6:30 yesterday did not fully satisfy our desert sunrise so this morning we are up and outside curled up in a blanket on the dunes by 5:40. Stars are still out, the full moon is glowing strong. Slowly but surely the dark fades as the sky color starts to mutate into something different, redpinkorangeyellow and finally the sun crests above the dunes. What a beautiful way to start the day. We head back and pack up our camp, load into our dromedaries and gallop back towards Hassalibied where we have a last breakfast with Muhammad our host. Next on the agenda is to get to Merzouga where we have decided to take the Supratours night bus at 7:00 to Fes for morning. After walking along the dunes for 5 kilometers south to Merzouga where we will catch the bus, we find a terrace cafe to enjoy another mint tea. Four hours later it is time for some food, unwilling to pay 65 dirhams for what the cafe is offering we decide to head out in search of better cheaper food and also to double check if there is a cheaper bus we could be taking. Luckily we find dinner at Macadin, a McDonalds logo infringement that no one will ever be concerned about, and surprisingly good food, we find out the owner is from Vancouver, BC. Amazingly we also discover we can get a grand taxi (taxi that waits until 5-6 people heading the same direction essentially splitting the cost to cheap) to Rissani for only 20 dirhams total after bargaining down from 26. Adding this to the 140 for the CTM bus in Rissani saves us 30 dirhams each or around 6 euros total from the 180 dirham price tag Supratours was charging, and we leave an hour later and arrive at the same time. It appears we have a win. In the cab practically under my lap in the four person backseat we meet Youssef, a very nice high school boy whose boarding school is near the bus station. Upon talking to him about our previous bus scenarios he offers to go with us and make sure we don't get ripped off again, so amazingly sweet! Clearly sensing my angst and hesitation the guy at the CTM jokes about not being like the public buses and that I can relax, *sighofrelief* I am pretty over that bs. Youssef parts ways with us as he has to be reading for boarding school classes at 4 am! We continue wandering through the thrice weekly souk and we manage to find the best deals on all of our favorite foods yet. 1/2 kilo almonds 37.50 + 1/2 kilo olives 6 + 1/2 kilo mandarins 2, yeah 20 cents! Everywhere else the almonds go for 60 for a half kilo and they didn't even charge us tourist tax like all of the other dreaded souks feel the need to. What a fortunate day we muse as we watch the sunset over Rissani before boarding our 9 hour night bus to Fes.

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