Sep 11:  Fes to Merzouga


Up 6:30am.  Slept decently.  Took out my earplugs in the middle of the night after the street toughs dissipated.

Left the hotel 7:30am.  Just before leaving I switched my Facebook profile pic to the WTC.  I stay on top of things when I travel, especially when I'm in an Islamic country on 9-11.

Stopped in Ifrane at 8:40am for 10 minutes.  It's allegedly the cleanest city in the world, and has an Alpine feel, and has snow in winter.

Next stop was at 9:20am at Moudmane Junction (I think, according to my Rough Guide).

Barbary ape.  I have no more wacky George Michael lyrics left to indicate my delight at seeing MONKEYS.

Monkey yawning.  5th trip in 6th years that I've encountered monkeys.

Realized I had a smudge on my lens.  That first medina alley pic looked weird.  Wiped it off after this.

Barbary apes inhabit the cedar forests in the Middle Atlas Mountains that we're going through.

A MONKEY!

Stopped at a rest stop 9:55am.  I got ice cream, even though it was chilly (50s-60s Fahrenheitwise).

At 10:25am we stopped at a Berber nomad camp.  Woman, daughter, 2 dogs, a dozen turkeys, 2 donkeys.  She stays there 3 months at a time.  She's a nomad.  Her daughter shook our hands as each of us got of the minivan one by one.

Little Berber girl and her residence.

Picnic 12:05pm-12:50pm.  Just an area with rocks to sit on.  "I'll come sit next to my husband"...see, this contract I entered into unwittingly is being enforced.  I peed on a tree!  First time since Russia in 2004 I think.  My first time ever was with my dad in 1972 or 1974 on the way to Cape Cod.  I giggled then as I did now!  Walking back from the pee-tree I saw a condom wrapper on the ground.  Who stops at a rest stop in Morocco (especially one like this) to fuck in the woods?  Some guy I'm jealous of, that's who.  How do I locate a girl who wants to fuck me, and then take it a step further into the woods?

Another rest stop 2:10pm.  Saw refrigerator magnets (Frosso requested on) but they all sucked.  My phone (free Wi-Fi in the minivan for a couple minutes from some nearby cafe) said we were in Errachidia and the temperature was 95░F.  Disappointing.  We rode through the city after that and continued our journey.

Stopped 3:05pm at the Ziz palmery, a notable oasis.  Right away I pointed out that it was hot and we should have come here at midnight instead.  The first of way too many "Midnight At the Oasis" references.

Palmery.

Palmery.

Palmery.

Stopped 4:35pm at a store for water and scarves.  I'm sticking with a hat in the desert.  More free Wi-Fi on the minivan.  LA will be 104░F/40░C by Tuesday.  Hotter than here.

Too many stops on these rides.  I know the driver has to stop regularly as required by law, but every hour is too much.  Does G think we need this many toilet stops?  And not that we want to rest?  I've done plenty of nonstop drives to Las Vegas without peeing, flights as long as 14.5 hours without peeing, and drove to San Diego and back without peeing (going to a Phillies game and having a few beers along the way).  If no one in the group has a peeing problem, can we please go 3-8 hours without a stop?  Thank you.

Arrived 5:30pm in Merzouga after 14 km on what wasn't even a road.  Getting very non-Western here.  Seeing the Erg Chebbi dunes as we approached was like seeing the Taj Mahal.

We're staying at Kasbah Yasmina.  No electricity in the complex until 7:30pm (provided by generator...it's the desert, you know) but my room is cool for now.  I do have my own room.  This is one of the nights it wasn't guaranteed.

Camels and goats around the back of the hotel.

The Sahara.

Sat by the pool for a bit.  Was told I look cute and dorky when I swat a fly on my head.  I interpret that as "graceful".

6:30pm meeting to go over the next day of fun.  After that, a walk out onto the dunes.

Dunes.  We're 50 km from Algeria here.

Sophia asked me to send this to her, and also said it wasn't a good pic, so I don't know what to do.  Marriage is so confusing.  Walking over here I joked about eating camel dung but didn't do it on account of our wedded bliss.

Guys on motorbikes drove up and tried to sell us stuff here.  Assholes.

I posted this on Facebook from my iPhone, and it got a lot of likes, but it's just an iPhone pic.  That's what I said at the time.  It's actually better than my real-camera pics.

Sunset over the Sahara.

Sunset right there at 7:28pm, according to my iPhone.  People were relying on my iPhone for temperature readings and forecasts.  All iPhones have a weather app, you know.

My feet in the Sahara.  I fixed the whiteness problem later.

Back to my room 7:35pm.  Lights are now on, but no Wi-Fi.  Maybe the computer isn't up yet.

Sat by the pool from 8pm drinking cachaša & Coke.  Wi-Fi was on but I couldn't connect.

Dinner 8:30pm on the patio at the back of the hotel.  Caught myself whistling "Midnight at the Oasis".  Some radio station in Philly played the top 100 rock songs of all time (in the late '80s, I'm guessing), and when they got to #1 they played MatO as a teaser.  Dinner was kaliya, which is a tajine but better.  It was #7 on my list of things.  Minced beef, a non-runny egg, salt, garlic, tomato, onion.

Tomorrow is the 2nd optional excursion--a 4x4 ride into the desert.  Surprised that 11 people opted in, since it's obviously a pool day.  All but me, Rebecca and Sophia.

After dinner some guy made his phone a hotspot, so we had Internet for a bit until he cut it off because his battery was dying.

I stayed talking to Sophia after dinner and enjoying beverages till 11pm.  Moved to the pool after that.  A rooster crowed at midnight.  Really now?  How does a rooster not know how to be a rooster?  Reminds me of Jerrod Carmichael at the Pig 'n Whistle saying "I'm no good at being a nigger."  That guy has an HBO special next weekend (typing this Sep 27 2014).  It can happen.

12:35am to my room.  Bed 1:10am.  Had half a bottle of cachaša but not feeling the effects.


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