It was not a restful night in Merzouga. A young French group ran around the courtyard screaming and shouting at the top of their lungs until midnight and what sounded like African drum music also began at 11:00 p.m. and accompanied their noise.Up for breakfast early (who slept) and starving, again there was no one in the restaurant even through breakfast was scheduled for 7:00 a.m. I don’t know if you remember in my Meknes video the guide’s discussion on “Moroccan Time.” Succinctly, they pay no attention to the actual time. ex-Marine went into the kitchen and found staff sitting around who began putting breakfast on the buffet, one piece at a time, very s-l-o-w-l-y. Bread, fake orange juice, honey, oil, jams, coffee, tea and fried crepes. That was it.
Members of the group had walked back from the desert camp where they spent the night and were filled with stories. The general consensus was that it was a lot of fun. The camel ride out to the dunes was a highlight for those who had never ridden a camel before. Dinner was the same mixture of meat, vegetables and tomatoes that we saw in the kitchen of Kasbah Le Touareg last night. Music, dancing and a night under the stars or in the Berber tent. A big thumbs up from those who participated with one recommendation. Keep your cameras in a plastic bag. The sand reaped havoc on quite a few telephoto lenses that would need the expertise of a camera shop in Tinehir.
Packed up and on the bus at 9:00 a.m. back through Rissani that was deader than a door nail. Today was Milad un Nabi , Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (February 26th). People were dressed in white and it was difficult to find anything to buy for a picnic lunch. Fortunately, freshly baked rounds of bread is always available, delivered by a kid on bicycle in a large basket. Stocked up since we’ve learned that on this trip to Morocco, it’s arguable whether or not an edible meal would be available in remote locations. Go ahead…call me picky.
The group was originally scheduled to visit the weekly market in Rissani but Explore changed the itinerary. I really didn’t care but would have loved to see the infamous donkey parking lot. Aziz said the “parking fee” is 2 Dirhams for locals to “park” their donkey while shopping or selling produce on market day.
Our drive left the southern desert and headed for the mountains once more, stopping at Manar Marbre…View image, a fossil factory where the group learned detailed information about fossils in this area. First in the outside courtyard studded with pictures, huge rocks and chunks of marble…View image…View image… before entering the factory…View image.
- The entire Sahara desert was a sea 350-450 million years ago. When the sea receded, the sea critters remaining died and became fossilized.
- The fossil factory goes to the mountain area 15 km/9.3 miles away from Rissani and quarries rocks. How do they know if this area is rich in fossils? They pour water on the rocks to see if anything shows up on the surface. If so, they immediately begin to quarry the entire area.
- There were shark’s teeth from the cretaceous period 150 million year ago. Fossils of snails, sea lilies, and squid from the Pleistocene period 350-450 million years ago, and more. (If my millions of years data is off, apologies. Did my best!) The factory was quiet and empty with the employees off celebrating the Prophet’s birthday.
Gorgeous tables, wash basins, and small objects for sale as is or hand cut to specification. All inlaid with different fossils. The fossil guide demonstrated a few of the machines along with facts (watch the video for all the information): machines use water to keep blades from getting too hot; ne machine cut slices from 1″ to feet thick; and there was a polishing machine. This exhibition was fascinating and really something different to see. The group picked up little baskets in the showroom and set in to buying up a storm. Pendants, bracelets, amulets… I don’t think anyone bought a huge table though they were magnificent, and bought one grandson a gazillion years old shark’s tooth.