Africa | Morocco | Southern Morocco | Zagora – Tia Moroccia
At some obscure hour of the night I awoke groggily to see Ali standing above me in medieval blue ghandana and turban, his brilliant white teeth in shap contrast to chocolate brown skin as he grinned widely at me sprawling dead to the world and fully clothed on the sand.
‘Ahh, Toureg – desert nomad’ he whispered, prodding his big toe into my ribs. ‘Do you want to come to a party?’ I squinted sleep-crusted eyes shut against the solar power of his smile and muttered ‘whattdayaonaboutman’ as I rolled away and tumbled back into painfully realistic dreams where small boys snorted with laughter at my feeble Arabic attempts.
Waking before dawn, silence embraced me as I watched the sun rise, revealing tiny tracks of a million different creatures trailed across the fine sand, telling tales of vast struggles and epic journeys that had been taking place while I slept. As I gazed up at the immense dunes I felt humbled, a kind of kindred existence with the beetles and spiders of the world.
All stillness and profound thoughts were shattered as Yokiko arrived back on her camel who appeared to be doing his best (and loudest) Chewbacca impersonation, not quite drowning out her delightful but high-pitched babblings about a scorpion paying them a visit in their tent during the night.
Our van arrived around 6 am and sadly we said fond farewells to our new friends. Just as I was about to step up into our chariot something caught my eye and I pointed a trembling finger at a bizarre hairy form dangling drunkenly from the one remaining side mirror.
‘Whart the heck is that?!!’
Catch a small goat. Remove all innards, remove head, stitch up bumhole and voila! His legs tied together make a neat handle as you pour from his neck your choice of tasty beverage. Saharan hip flask, now that’s pure class.
We drove for a short time before stopping unaccountably before a series of dunes whereupon the driver and half the passengers clambered out and wandered off, appearing in that otherworldly fashion to disintegrate – sucked greedily into the maw of an eternally parched desert. Ali suddenly emerged, spewed forth in their place.
‘Hey, come with me’, so very curious I followed him over a small dune and gasped in awe, speechless. At least 100 carpets of every colour lay in a giant square across the golden sand. Surrounding the square 100 black woollen tents stood strictly in order, within each tent were four beds, and upon each bed stretched starched white sheets topped with plump pillows, barely rumpled from minimal sleep.
As I gazed around me streams of men trekked past like ants, carrying elaborate treasure chests overflowing with silver and jewels, intricately detailed swords and daggers studded with precious stones, wooden drums, laterns and fine woven silk cushions. I felt as though I was witnessing the pillaging of Alli Barber’s cave.
‘Good party’, Ali murmered, finally noticing my wide eyes and jaw resting somewhere down by my ankles. Shhhyeaahhh…
I mentally kicked and berated my last night’s laziness all the way back to the van where there now appeared to be about 30 people waiting for a ride back to Rissani. Ali grabbed my hand and pulled me past the crowds up onto the roof where we reclined luxuriously stop a pile of rugs and as we began to move relished the cool breeze fingering our bodies after the opressing heat of the days before. Despite Ali quietly singing Berber songs beside me I felt intense solitude as I ran my eyes across the vast unchanging landscape unravelling before me.
Eleven days by camel from Zagora, three days from the Algerian border. I was filled with a sense of wonder as I realised I truly was on a magic carpet ride.