Hitting a low point in Morocco

Trip Start Mar 05, 2002
Trip End Jan 2003

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Saturday, April 20, 2002

After returning from the desert, we spent the afternoon in the miserable town of Erfoud. It was incredibly hot and people were hassling us like crazy. We sat down at a cafe to have some lunch. They only had three options, cous cous, tajine, or an omelette. We are sick of cous cous and tajine; so we decided to have a tomato omelette. When it was served, it was not an omelette at all, but some type of undercooked reddish slop. (I know that sounds obnoxious, but I'm still a little bitter.) Since the food didn't appear edible, we were eating the bread served with it when this dirty lady approached the table and made a motion like she was hungry. I handed her some bread but she wanted some of our slop to go with it. I would have happily given her mine, but the restaurant owner saw her and yelled at her for bothering us. So the lady reached her hand down and stuck it in Lisay's plate of slop, and flung it in the general direction of her mouth, covering us and our clothes with the slop in the process. Then she ran away, and the restaurant owners son threw pebbles at her. It was just such a strange turn of events. One minute sitting there at an outdoor cafe eating bread, the next minute you are covered in slop. It was really kind of sad, because she was obviously a bit mentally unstable, but also the last thing we needed at the time, after a miserable day of being hassled.

We were actually happy to get on the bus and get out of that town. But then the bus started moving, and we weren't so happy anymore. It truly sounded like it was going to fall apart at any second. And whoever designed the bus was a moron, because there were metal bars right at knee level, so every time the bus driver slammed on the brakes, your knees would bang into the metal bar. And trust me, the bus drivers here have to slam on the brakes a lot more than they do at home. Somehow, we managed to arrive alive in the town of Boumaine du Dades and found a hotel. The good news was that it only cost about two dollars each. The bad news is you get what you pay for. The hotel was clean, but the toilet was a hole in the ground. (This one was a sort of fancy hole in the ground though, it had an actual flushing device.) That night was one of our low points. Maybe it was just that nothing can compare to the Sahara, or the fact that we were exhausted and sore, or the fact that Morocco can be a rough place to be. In any case, we were pretty much ready to get out of the country. We'd had it with the heat, the dirt, the food, the flies, and the never-ending stream of people wanting to talk to you and follow you around. But we knew that it was just a moment of weakness.

The next day, we felt a bit better, and took a taxibus out to see the Dades Gorge. The little van has seats for 15 people, but that obviously means nothing, because they crammed 26 people inside and one guy rode on the roof. The Gorge was really cool and well worth the trip out there. We hiked around and saw waterfalls, lots of gorgeous red poppy fields, and an area where the rocks rise straight up from the river on both sides. It was fun to be out in nature and getting fresh air. It amazes me how much natural beauty there is in Morocco, and how varied it is. Everything from beaches to snow covered mountains to lush valleys to magnificent sand dunes. (Now that I put it that way, it sounds like California!)

That night we took another long bus ride to Marrakesh. This bus ride was actually pretty nice and uneventful, which was a good change. One thing I can't figure out though is why everyone here lies about the bus. We will ask how long the trip will take, including stops, and they will tell us 5 hours. But it will take 7. And it always like that. Even people who don't work for the bus company will always round the time down by at least an hour and a half. It is really weird, I don't understand why they do that. It isn't like we aren't going to get on the bus when we already bought our tickets. Are they embarrassed that their country's buses are so slow? If anyone has any idea why this would be, please email me. I am really curious.

The buses also stop a lot. Going from Erfoud to Boumaine du Dades, the bus stopped 28 times to let people on and off. (Yes we counted, we had a bet riding on it.) And it was only a 4 hour bus ride. When you want the bus to stop, you clap your hands. It sounds archaic but it seems to work pretty efficiently. The near-constant loud clapping does tend to make napping difficult.

Ok, enough about the buses. We are back in Marrakesh now. We've been here for a couple days, recovering. We are still a little sore from the camel trip. It is nice to be in a big city because there are lots of tourists here, so people are used to seeing people in t-shirts and tank tops and we can wear them without worrying about causing a big scandal or being thought of as prostitutes. Ahh yes, the little things.

Right now, by the way, I am cleaner than I have ever been in my entire life. I just got the living hell scrubbed out of my body by this lady at the hamaam, then a full body massage. They even washed and brushed my hair. It was great, so indulgent and relaxing. I am glad we went through with it, we almost chickened out, being somewhat modest and not sure of what to expect. It turned out to be just what we needed.
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