Friday, October 17, 2008

Erfoud to Marrakesh

We leave Erfoud, heading for Ouarzazate. Driving through miles of desert, past hundreds of artesian wells, each owned by a family, but now largely redundant owing to new bore water pumping and storage. Our first herd of camels accompanied by their drover all dressed in blue, appears. Abdul, the tour guide is a funny guy, when we arrive in our host towns for the evenings, the fountains will all be coming on, and he says, "See they have turned on the water for us! I telephoned them and told them we would be in at 5pm, and they have turned it on because I asked!" When he sees the camels he says, "See, I told him we would be coming past here at 9am, and he has come just for us!"
We stop in a town called Tinghar, where Abdul has a friend with a silver shop. Of course it is the best silver shop in the desert and the only safe place to buy genuine tribal jewellry, (oh yeah). I do buy a lovely necklace for myself.
Then on through more arid mountains and lush gorges to have lunch at the Gorges de Todra, more river crossing on planks laid above blue tinted water rippling over stone in between massive grey and terracotta rock faces.
In Ouarzazate we stay at the Hotel Berber where all the film producers, directors & crews stay, while filming. There are a number of large movie studios nearby and this has produced a local economy of tourism and investment monies.
The following day we visit a restored Casbah (fortified village) Ait Ben Haddou was built circa 1703 by Mouli Ishmael from Meknes, the first King of Morocco. Following this, it is up & over the Tichka Pass 2260m; We arrive in Marrakesh with enough time to visit the Palace Bahia and the Jardins Marjorelle, or Blue Gardens, purchased by Yves St. Laurent who has left enough money in trust for them to continue to be maintained.

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