We left Tata around 9:30, after topping up the fresh water tank and emptying the waste water and toilet tanks. We were heading first for Foum-Zguid, then onto Agdz, where we planned to stay in a campsite laid out in a Palmerie. The N12 road to Foum-Zguid was good and we covered the 150 kilometres in good time. The scenery was fantastic. Rock formations of every colour and shape were the norm. Niki took dozens of photo’s.
About 30 kilometres from Foum-Zquid, Godfredo had the recurring problem with his camper, it had now happened three times. The vehicle goes into emergency mode and will not run at anything over about 30 kilometres per hour. The intermittent problem only seems to happen when the vehicle is low on fuel. The nearest Iveco dealer is in Marrakech, so we decided to keep the fuel tank topped up, and hope for the best. If it persists we can have it looked at in Marrakech when we get there.
We stopped for lunch along the main road, Gillian had given us some cooked lamb, Niki cooked some rice to go with it, it was delicious. After Foum-Zquid the road deteriorated and one section, of perhaps 70 kilometres, was little more than a rough potholed track, the camper bucking and bouncing all over the place. Despite the road conditions the scenery remained beautiful. Niki caught sight of a piece of rock by the side of the road which sparkled in the sunlight, we stopped to investigate. It was a large lump of Quartz mixed with copper, too big to take home, but after a few minutes we found a much smaller piece that Niki was keen to keep. When we arrived in Agdz the sun had disappeared behind grey clouds and the temperature had dropped to 7.5°C, we were almost 1000 metres above sea level, but it was still a shock after the hot sunshine we had enjoyed over the past few days. Having checked into the campsite it didn’t take long to get the heating going and settle down for the evening.
Niki and I weren’t very hungry after our large lunch and decided to have a couple of boiled eggs with some toast. It tasted fine but by 11 pm we were both suffering from chronic indigestion. Niki was sick three times and although I wasn’t, I still felt bloated and suffered all night long, neither of us managing to get much sleep. We could only think that the eggs we’d eaten weren’t that fresh.
The following morning, still both feeling rotten, with chronic indigestion, we both felt shattered after a night of suffering and no sleep, it was unusual for me to have a problem as I normally have a cast iron stomach, rarely suffering these sort of things. Moving in what seemed like slow motion we got up and made ourselves ready, we had agreed to take Gillian & Godfredo into the town centre and the souk. Even though we felt bad the weather had improved, the sun shone from a perfect blue sky, it felt lovely and hot as we sat in a pavement cafe and drank a coffee, hoping it would buck us up. Niki bought some medicine from the chemist, but the lethargy remained with us throughout the day, in fact neither of us felt like eating and only managed a half sandwich each at lunchtime. Still feeling far from cured we ate a few boiled vegetables for our evening meal, hoping we would be back to our normal selves again soon.
About twenty French campers turned up in the late afternoon, an organised group. Niki and Gillian managed to join them for a guided tour of the Kasbah at the rear of the campsite, the campsite owners are slowly restoring this ancient building to it’s former glory, they found it interesting, but tiring, and felt cold as the inside of the Kasbah was quite damp.
Having had breakfast and packed everything away we set off from Agdz and drove southeast to Merzouga and Erg Chebbi, the name given to the high dunes of the Moroccan Sahara. The road was much better than the one we had taken from Foum-Zquid, but still had plenty of pot holes, some of which were quite deep. The weather was perfect for the drive with the sun shining once again from a clear blue sky. The wind that had stirred up the dust and sand over the past few days had dropped, so we able to have the windows open, without adding to much to the already thick layer of dust, covering everything inside the camper. We stopped for lunch on the roadside around 1 pm, enjoying fresh tomatoes mixed with onions, green peppers and cucumber. After lunch Godfredo took the lead and we followed him as we wound our way through many small villages and settlements. Gillian then drove for awhile until we approached Rissani, the largest town near to Merzouga, where Godfredo once again took the wheel to lead us to the Blue Gazelle campsite. They had stayed there a couple of years before. It was a good choice, a family run and friendly place, small but with all facilities we needed. Mohamed the owner allowed us to pick our spots and then showed us a couple of rooms inside the main building that we could use for showering and the toilet.
The high dunes were just behind the campsite, the golden colours of the sand majestic as a backdrop to a perfect camping spot. As the sun dropped slowly in the sky the four of us sat outside the main building on a small terrace, looking out over the dunes, enjoying a glass of wine. Mohamed joined us and we talked for awhile as the sun slowly set. There were two French campers staying on the site and Mohamed explained that tomorrow he would be taking them on a 4x4 excursion to see some Berber nomad encampments, an abandoned village, water wells and an old mine. He asked if we would like to join them. The cost would be €100 per person, but for the price we would get a four and a half hour 4x4 outing, a huge tajine lunch and Moroccan soup in the evening. Then on the following day we would have a Camel trek to see the sunset and return to the campsite for another soup supper. It sounded good and Gillian was keen to go, Godfredo said he would go along with whatever Gillian decided. Niki and I, being tour leaders were a little more hesitant, but decided it could be good fun and we all agreed to go.
It seems I've been travelling for most of my life.
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