Attack of the "Barbary Ips"
Trip Start Nov 01, 2006
15Trip End Nov 21, 2006
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Hamid, our guide, taught himself excellent English
Hamid's hometown was along the route to the desert so he thoughtfully made a pit stop to pick up some delicious handmade Moroccan sweets prepared for us by his mother and sister. At one of our numerous café stops that day, we enjoyed the delectable treats with our mint teas and café au laits.
Our final destination that day was Merzouga, a tiny scruffy village that sits right on the edge of the great sand sea. It was dark by the time we hit a traffic standstill about an hour outside of Merzouga. We sat in the darkness thinking that we had been unfortunate enough to hit desert rush hour. Hamid spoke in hushed Arabic with the other drivers who were beginning to gather around their stopped vehicles. We eventually found out that the road ahead had been flooded by a massive rainstorm that hit the area the day before. The one metre of standing water made the route impassable. The alternative was to turn back to the nearest town, Erfoud, to rent Land Rovers and go off roading to reach Merzouga-an unexpected treat. We piled into a couple of rough looking 4 by 4s with our backpacks tied to the roof and rattled off into the darkness. A few brain shaking hours later, we arrived at our basic auberge (i.e. camp) built in the shadow of the dunes.