Sunday, July 10, 2016

ERG CHEBBI DUNES, SAHARA DESERT, MOROCCO: DAY EXCURSIONS: PART 2

As I noted earlier, I as concerned about what we would do for two days in the Sahara Desert. I had visions of wandering around, looking for shade. I shouldn't have worried. In my previous post, I covered six different places that our guide Hassan took us to. Here are a few more.

1. MOROCCO NATIONAL AUTO MUSUEM

One of the strangest, most bizarre places we visited on our entire trip was the Morocco National Auto Museum:
Like everything else in this region of the world, it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. And like so many of the places we visited in the Erg Chebbi Desert region, we didn't see anyone else visiting while we were there.

This 4x life-sized Jeep in front of the building gave us a clue about what was inside:

Over 200 vintage and modern vehicles, mostly four-wheel drive, were lined up in rows. The cars were from all over the world, including the USA, as Hassan indicates below:

Here are a few of my favorites:
Replica of Ford Model A; Drivetrain: Jeep Wranger; 2007, USA

Volteis Electric 4x4, 2011, France

Honker, 2013, Poland

Suzuki drivetrain, 2013, Japan

Double Jeep, 2011, USA

Half Jeep, 2011, USA

I'm not sure what this one is, but it looks like the Rolls Royce version of something.

Amphibious, 2012, China

This interesting chart compares various vehicles to a donkey, a mule, a fancy steed, and a camel. Suzuki doesn't do too well:


2. DATE GROVE

When I think of the Sahara, I don't think of gardening, but Hassan showed us an amazing cooperative farm with an interesting irrigation system. The channel of water flowing through the date grove reminded me of a mini version of the California Aqueduct running through the Mojave Desert:

To show us how clean the water was, Hassan washed his hands in it:

Different families have their own sections and an assigned time for irrigation. Wasting no space, the families plant additional crops beneath the date palms, taking advantage of the irrigation run-off:

Not exactly LUSH gardens, but better than nothing:


Overall, it was quite an oasis:


3. MERZOUGA

Our next stop was the booming metropolis of Merzouga, just 30 miles from the Algerian border:

Merzouga is a happening place, a Moroccan Twilight Zone version of the OK Corral:

Hassan dropped us off at one end of "Main Street"--a Main Street as different from Main Street USA as can be imagined. Many shops were boarded up.

See all the happy shoppers milling about? Yeah, me neither.

Someone must belong to this laundry, but where is he?

And WHO is staying in all of these places?


Based on the painted-on sheep, goat, and cow illustrations, we induced that this must be a butcher shop, but thank goodness it was locked up:

Well, well, well, an open shop! I've never seen 12-foot-long scarves before. I figured they were for men's turbans:

And lo and behold! A customer!

Another open shop enticed us in, but there was nothing there we hadn't seen in every other spice shop, and nothing looked particularly fresh.  
The shop owner, in very good English, walked us hopefully around the store, naming each of the 100 or so spices. We took a few photos and left when Hassan (finally) pulled up outside, no doubt greatly disappointing our host.


4. LUNCH AT AN OASIS

Finally, at about 2:30, Hassan dropped us off at an outdoor restaurant owned and operated by some of his friends. It was unlike any other restaurant we'd ever been to, isolated as it was in the Erg Chebbi Dunes. We could see no other civilization in any direction:
On the other hand, there was interesting landscaping leading up to the maitre'd:

Again, we were the only patrons. (No reservations needed.)

Exotic table decor:

We had been on the road since just after an early breakfast, and I was happy to hear they had a bathroom.

NO! PLEASE NO . . . (sigh).

Our lunch included a rice dish with olives, eggs, and a delicious tomato salsa:

WE also had medfouna rissani, the classic Moroccan flatbread, but football-shaped rather than round and stuffed with vegetables, finely minced chicken, eggs,and sauce. It was ever so much better than the plain, dry bread:

Bob exposes the inside stuffing:

Instead of the customary Moroccan tea, we had what was becoming customary for us, hot milk with sugar. Hassan got a kick out of this drink, something more typical for very young children than for adults. Yeah, the milk is a little grey. What of it?

5. CAMEL RIDE:

I've saved the best for last, and the prime reason Bob was so intent on taking this Detour To The Dunes: Camels.

But I'll save that for the next post.

3 comments:

  1. Can't we just get to the camels? Please? Aside from lunch, which was very nice and interesting, this part of the day was a yawner. Vehicles, it was good for about 10 minutes, downtown Merzouga, good for another 10 minutes. Stuff in your prior post, and camels, that was what this segment of the trip was all about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, I want to see that camels too!

      Delete
  2. Really sad to see all of these tourist areas bereft of tourists.
    Who knew there are so many weird cars out there?

    ReplyDelete

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