Dear Alex and Sammy: I am sorry for the delay between letters, but as you know I got hit with a big tummy bug when we left Fez. Sadly I have not seen any of Marrakech (Daddy has though but I think he has forgotten to take many pictures), because I have been holed up in our dar (similar to a riad) recuperating. I know one of the reasons I got so sick was all of the traveling we did in extreme heat in the South, but I cannot say that I regret it. I think you will understand when you see the pictures!
First we drove through the cedar forests of the Middle Atlas mountain range. The picture above is of an 800 year old cedar tree. Although this tree was nowhere near as wide as the rubber tree I wrote about from Tangiers, it was certainly tall and rather impressive in its stark dead state.
This picture is one I could not resist taking–we stopped at a lake on the way to the cedar forests, and while the lake was pretty this donkey was far cuter. He is 3 weeks old in this picture and kept trying to nurse the whole time we were there.
Where we stopped to see the cedar tree, in the forests, is the only place in the world Barbary apes live. To my surprise (but not Daddy’s as he experienced similar stuff in South Africa), the apes just hang out where the tourists–foreigners and Moroccan children campers alike–stop to see them. Some people threw them food, which I don’t approve of as these are wild animals and should probably not be encouraged to get that close to people. Having said that, it was fun to see them so up close in the wild.
Next up was the desert, which took a looooooong (and unpleasant, given how sick I was) drive. We drove to Merzouga, a town about 40 km from Algeria (a different country to the east), and from there found what I think maybe was a kasbah out at the edge of the Erg Chebbi Dunes. When we got there, they gave us the option of sleeping at the kasbah or riding out into the dunes in the Sahara to stay at a Berber tent.
Of course we chose the tent.
This is the Berber camp where we stayed. This camp is completely typical (except the toilets I am guessing!) and there are still many nomadic Berbers living in the Saraha today. This is also exactly where we slept–any time but summer it can get quite cold in the desert, but the trade-off of the 122 F (50 C) daytimeheat (VERY HOT) is that it was warm enough to sleep outside, under the stars. And because the wind basically never stops blowing there, it was actually pretty comfortable. In the dark anyway!
This is what it looked like in all directions. Alex, is this what you envisioned in your Magic Treehouse books when Jack and Annie got stuck in a sandstorm? And boy was it dry–like being stuck in Mommy’s dryer or Pappy’s fireplace! It was so dry there Mommy had to use eye drops and keep chap sticking my lips.
The next morning we got back on our dromedaries (Moroccans do not consider these camels, to them camels have 2 humps and dromedaries have 1), before the sun was up, to go and watch the sun rise… Sammy, would you ride a dromedary like one of these?
Take note, children. I doubt you’ll ever see Mommy take a picture of the sun rising again!
Then we got back on our dromedaries and rode back to the kasbah. I’ll tell you later what we saw that day! Love, Mommy and Daddy