2011 Morocco – Day 11 – Zagora / Mhamid

I got up again around 0800. The night had become quite cold, especially in a room where there was no heating. I hadn’t really expected that. In the quite clear hotel was already quite a lot going on and the noise from inside came to that from outside still in addition. First I checked out again at the old slow Zausel at the reception and went a few meters to the left of the Royal to have the usual breakfast. Strong milky coffee fairy with an omelette. While I sat there comfortably at the street and looked around with cigarettes and coffee in the area I saw opposite a car rental, which brought me on the thought to ask nevertheless times for the prices.

I took my stuff and crossed over to the other side of the street. A sign on the door told me that there were no more cars for rent. Opposite me now in a side street I saw another renting. As always I hesitated briefly, because I still had a cigarette in the hand. But the car lender came out quickly and told me to come in. That was again completely unusual. I immediately got an ashtray put down and told him now what I wanted. He still had a car, now it was only about the details. I wanted the car for 48 hours, only to spend another night in O. and then take the bus back to Marrakech. The car should cost for it altogether approx. 60 euro, which I found quite ok and wanted, since this should give me nevertheless much more liberties.

After the whole procedure, where also my credit card was needed to book a deposit, I went to the car to check for dents and other damages. Otherwise I’m used to one or two damages, but here it was a good list. The box was incredibly small and I had no idea during the whole time what kind of car it is, because the name or manufacturer was nowhere on it. I was worried if I could drive it at all. Shortly before 10 I finished with everything and was able to throw my backpack on the backseat and jet off, which at first was very strange with the small vehicle. But later I got used to it and everything went fine. First I drove through the city towards the Sahara.

Actually I didn’t want to go to Zagora, but I wanted to go there and as far as I could to finally turn back and look for a hotel somewhere. So I went out of O. through the Neustadt over the Draa river and over a hill out of the city. The landscape became more and more attractive for me. Small hills and left the Draa. The road led always right beside the Draa along. Sometimes a little further away, sometimes a little closer. Everything was without larger vegetation, except in the Draa valley itself near the river, which was at that time only 10 meters wide in O. and became smaller and smaller during the whole trip. However, the trip went a little further over dry higher land, far away from the river.

After approx. 1h drive on best road, I saw left a defective car and two types. One came right to me and said he would want to get something to repair in the next village and that it is only 10 minutes away. It went from the highlands some very nice serpentines down and into the small village. I thought right at the beginning that his story wasn’t right, but I had time and wanted to see what happened. We stopped in the small town Ait Saoun, could have been one later, in front of a carpet shop. Now everything was clear to me, but I just wanted to see it away from the hustle and bustle. In the quite spacious shop hung all kinds of carpets and an old man was waiting for us. The old man spoke English surprisingly well and there were no conversation problems. I was supposed to sit down and was provided extremely fresh tasting dates and an ashtray.

The old man asked me what kind of kind I’d like to have. I looked around and pointed to something. I also made it clear to him right from the start that I don’t really want to buy one, but just want to have a look at everything. He ignored that as best he could. In the end I found a carpet very nice to look at, which should be a thin specimen of a kind of prayer carpet. Anyway, it was very light and I could put it in my backpack without any problems. He told me all sorts of things about the carpet, but it could all be a little far-fetched. The carpet should be made of dromedary hair, with one emphasis, not camel hair and come from Timbuktu.

I had all sorts of signs explained to me where he could tell detailed things again. The signs were clearly embroidered by hand in silk, as he proved to me with a fire test with my cigarette that it was not synthetic. The carpet should cost 200€, which I did not want to spend at all. I reached into my trouser pocket, in which I still had 200 Dh, thus 20 €. Now he tried to make clear to me how to act, I against the fact that I do not want a carpet and only have the 200dh. The shrewd businessman said that credit card and EC card are no problem here in the desert.

When I wanted to leave he finally agreed and I gave him 200dh and a pack of 100 Aspirin (99ct USA) for the cloth. Now I felt a bit bad, but the old man would never have agreed if he hadn’t made a profit and I hadn’t got there with fair means. In the course of time I liked the carpet better and better. Since it was now already almost 1400, I quickly stepped on the gas and drove on. It went to rock deserts and oases further direction southeast. At the beginning I was a little unfamiliar with the fact that I hardly saw people on the road and also the traffic with motorized vehicles did not really exist. However, even in the smallest village there was always a lot of activity on the roads, so that often there was no real getting through.

People just walked across the streets, donkey carts and other carts on the roadside or on the street, children, dogs, donkeys, chickens, sheep and stalls. It was always a little bit shocking to get into something like that from the calm gliding in the desert. But this was mainly due to the unofficial traffic rules, which were incomprehensible for Europeans at first. At first you think there are signs and all that stuff. Then one quickly notices that they are actually completely ignored and the next step is to understand the actual rules. As I have already been made aware by others before, everyone in North Africa pays attention to each other. That sounds strange at first, but it is so. This is made particularly clear by the often unusual honking of the horn. As I could observe very often this only means: Attention I come here from behind. Before you drive past someone, you are honked to warn the other one. That goes in the direction of the size of the vehicle.