Wednesday, January 07, 2009

19 November: The Sahara Desert to Taroudant

This morning I was up early for the sunrise ... like 5:50am early. Too early as it turned out because our guide was about as good at estimating sunrise as he was about our arrival times in each city! It was freezing but the moon was bright and I waited patiently.

By the time the sun finally rose (probably at least an hour later!), I had plenty of company and was perched on top of the highest nearby dune. It was lovely.

Then we had a speedy breakfast and headed out by Land Rover again. The landscape of the Sahara we saw was certainly varied! The duney parts looked quite similar to Namibia to me. But then there were also quite lush bits (quite strange to see bright green plants covering the ground with a desert dune rising behind it!). Some of it was scrubby with little thorn trees and a lot of it was as flat as far as one could see. There were also plenty of bits just covered with rocks and pebbles.

We had some minor car trouble that caused 2 unscheduled stops where I wandered desperately looking for a fossil in one of the rocks (there are plenty for sale in markets on the way into & out of the desert but finding my own would've just been worth so much more!). Needless to say, I didn't. I don't know if I'd recognise one out in the open like that or even know which types of rocks would be more likely to have fossils!

On our way to Taroudant, we drove for hours. Spending an hour stopped for lunch in a restaurant that is not worth mentioning and then arriving after sunset, again. Today marked the low-point of the trip for me.

When I've traveled in Africa before, I've definitely had days filled by 8 hour drives to the next village or town. But always on my other trips I've come away strong in the knowledge that I've achieved something for that time. That I have some kind of experience more precious that made it worth those hours in trade. I just don't have that feeling from this trip.

I think I have been too vague in my wants. I wanted to "see" Spain, Portugal and Morocco. That was on my list of things to do. Technically I've done it but, I don't feel much of a sense of accomplishment. I don't know what I was expecting to find in these countries and they've left me wanting. I know travel and holidays aren't usually about accomplishment but, that's the best way I can describe it. I want something back, something that's mine to treasure. And often all it is is an experience but, I guess it's usually a more specific experience that just "traveling" (if that makes any sense ... ?)

This time I didn't really do anything specific and I sort of feel that finding the astronaut (admittedly with help) and going to the Western Most Tip of Europe (which is pretty damn cool) are my most unique experiences so far. Even crossing the Strait of Gibraltar was disappointing.

(To be honest, writing up these posts, remembering and going thru the pictures has made me appreciate the trip more than I did while I was actually there)

Anyway, I feel worse for Varen who hasn't experienced group-travel before and has yet to get to spend 2 nights in one place or actually really explore any of the places we've been.

I'm also feeling a little ripped-off by our guide who seems to be guiding us to particular restaurants that haven't been very good althought they've been on the expensive side and he always seems to eat for free. I know there's plenty of that sort of thing on these trips, where the guides bring new people thru on a regular basis and obviously build up a relationship with the owners of particular places but, I've never noticed it so blatantly before.

I joined the group for a walk around Taroudant, I'll admit I sort of felt obliged to see a small part of this city we are passing thru (Varen stayed at the hotel). It turned out to be pretty interesting because we visited a Berber carpet place where they explained different styles of carpets, what each was best for and the different colours that the different tribes favoured. Sadly I have no need of a carpet :(

Varen & I spent the rest of the evening in our hotel room. We had pastries for dinner in bed - not very healthy but, at least it improved our mood!

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin