Monday, July 12, 2010
We've quickly learned that Dr. Aomar Boum's (Boomy's) description of a 3-hour car ride from one city to the next is not exactly accurate. Let's just say that we left Zagoura - the last stop for the caravans as they made their 52-day camel journey to Tombouctou - at somewhere around 9:00 a.m. and arrived about 12 hours later. What took place in between was an endless mixture of surreal moments, breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable inside jokes. Melon stop, anyone? We passed through multiple small villages, listening to everything from Moroccan rap with its mixture of English/French/Arabic to Bonnie Raitt, all while passing donkey carts and earthen houses. Crazy. After eating lunch in a kazbah (and me falling asleep afterward - was it from the 46 degree heat or too much Berber whiskey? -- another inside joke - it's just mint tea), we made our way onto a dirt road headed down into a canyon into a different kind of oasis - a desert waterfall. After taking a refreshing dip in our clothes and the boys swimming with the melon to chill it (picture three adult men playing catch with a huge watermelon), we ate MORE melon and thoroughly enjoyed this much-needed rest from the car. Not too far back on the main highway we had car problems (or maybe it was driver Miloud's excuse for another break?) and ended up stopping by the side of the hghway, overlooking a cliff and had the craziest, most spontaneous dance party on the rocks! Everyone jammed out to Michael Jackson, Mambo #5, etc., while waving to every passing car and Babel bus (we were on the highway from that scene in the movie where Cate Blanchett gets shot) that passed by. I can only imagine what the passengers were thinking! We finally made it to Ourzazette, home of our three Berber drivers, and had a fantastic meal at Abdullah's home. It was so good, in fact, that we gave up dinner at the hotel (worst pasta ever, but better than another tagine), and went back for the leftovers the next evening. Moroccan hostpitality is never-ending, as is American craziness. Thanks to Jersey Bill, we ended the night with an obnoxiously loud game of Jenga-lah (our new favorite made-up word for Jenga). We finally had shopping time yesterday and bought more Moroccan potions and creams than the guys knew ever existed and spent HOURS bargaining for Berber carpets (kudos to Jake for being our new best shopping girlfriend - you rock!) Last night's World Cup final was an unexpected cultural experience no one expected. The drivers took us to a local cafe where we were the only females, as if we didn't stand out enough as foreigners. It was great, though, and Bill and Jake and I butchered our white T-shirts (picture to follow soon) to make Netherlands jerseys (all for not) and found our new favorite Arabic word - Hollinda - for Holland. Now that's one I can remember! We're off again today for Foumzguid (Boomy's village) where we'll have a three-day home stay and total immersion into Moroccan village life. I can't wait to do laundry in the river and shower with a bucket!