Sep 14:  Todra Gorge to Aït Ben Haddou


Up 8am.  Took a dump.  After I flushed, a wad of paper remained in the bowl (the Owen Hart "nugget") along with a fly.  Did that come out of me?  I don't remember consuming ointment.  Solid night of sleep.  The power never went out but I turned off the AC at some point.  Left the hotel 9am.

Dammit, I forgot to turn in my key.  I made this realization seconds before Abdoul asked "who was in room 16?"  They key had a giant wooden ball attached, but I've been to so many hotels that attach large attachments that I've become numb to them.  And I've been to so many hotels that have normal keycards that you throw away after you leave instead of circa-1900 metal keys.

Stopped at lookout points at 9:05am and 9:20am.  I think we just stopped at the second one so Abdoul could drop off my key to someone to take back to the hotel.

Lookout point.  Don't know exactly where this is, except that it's near Tinghir.

Another lookout point at 10:10am at Dadès Gorge.

Dadès Gorge.  This is closed to traffic because Tom Cruise is filming Mission: Impossible 5 here for 4 months.  Somewhere out there is a rock called the Monkey's Fingers.  It has no monkeys, though.

I apologized to Abdoul for the key thing.  He said it happens all the time.

Abdoul announced that the total trip covers 2307 km.  Turkey was 3500 km.

Photo stop 12:20pm in Ouarzazate at Kasbah Taourirt.  Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy Returns and Game of Thrones have been shot in Ouarzazate.  One of my 12 labors is to spoil Game of Thrones on Facebook.

Lunch 12:30pm-1:30pm at Restaurant el Bahja.  We all shared chicken and beef and sausages and lentils and beans for 30 dh/person.  Best deal so far.  And 10 dh for a 1-L bottle of Coke.  Normally that's the price for a glass or 12- or 16-oz bottle.  The other group arrived after us.  Guessing one of them won't be sharing chicken and beef and sausages.

Noticed that some signs have a weird alphabet in addition to French and Arabic.  Berber?

Stopped at a spices co-op 1:35pm-2:45pm.  La Caravane des Épices.  We had many good-smelling things rubbed on us.  This was the only place I might have bought stuff from, but the spices weren't distinctive.  The only local ones were a 35-spice mixture and a 4-spice mixture for fish.  And they weren't spicy, which is somewhat of a contradiction.  Almost everyone bought something here.

Someone needed at ATM, so the minivan stopped and Sophia and I took advantage and went to a liquor store across the street.  I got green apple vodka (700 mL...why not the usual 750?, 37.5%, 170 dh) because I figured I could drink it straight if I run out of Coke.

We passed CLA Studios.  Huge Egyptian bust outside.  This is movie-making country.  Couldn't get a pic.

3:30pm.  Aït Ben Haddou ksar from a lookout point.

To the hotel (Hotel Restaurant Larose du Sable) 3:35pm.  My room is its own structure.

At 4:35pm we left for the ksar via foot.

Ksar.  Eight families still live here.  Right about here a windstorm kicked up and a shard of something was driven into my right eye.

That Gladiator scene was shot here.

I was right...Berber alphabet.

Summary of stuff filmed in Aït Ben Haddou.  My summary independent of this barely-visible list:  Time Bandits, The Jewel of the Nile, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Mummy, Game of Thrones.

Top of the ksar.  Wind was so bad I had to shut my eyes.  Worse than trying to take pics in a hurricane at Shea Stadium in 2008.  This was ocular hell for me.  Abdoul said it's the first time it's been this windy.  Back to hotel 5:50pm

Our cooking class was supposed to be at 7pm, but as I showered I heard knocking (which I hear during almost every shower of my life, as word spreads among the womenfolk that I'm nude) and didn't know what was going on.  Regardless of any emergency, there's not much I can do in the next 15 minutes if I'm wet, and covered with soap and shampoo, and one eye has a contact lens out and is painfully inflamed.  The knocking continued after the shower so I talked through the door (still TOTALLY NUDE, mind you) and learned that the cooking class was starting early because of two groups being here unexpectedly.  Dried off, dressed quickly and we started the class at 6:45pm.  People taking photos of tajines and ingredients really got in the way here.  And flashes are almost always wrong.  Are adults seriously too dumb to turn off their flash?  And how is a photo of food notable, in the sense of being Moroccan rather than generic?  Food pics have been a Facebook foul for years now.  They're the Facebook baby pics of Facebook.  Anyway, this was a delicious tajine because I made it.  Procedure:  Add turkey, onion and spices (salt, pepper, cumin, ginger, lots of garlic, parsley, paprika and saffron) and olive oil, cook for a bit, add water, then add carrots (unless you're me), potatoes, tomatoes, parsley, olives and lemon.  Cook 40 minutes (7:20pm-8pm in the instant case).

Other group is taking the cooking class after us.  Let me guess who isn't putting a turkey breast in her tajine.

We sat on the patio to await our meal.  Served 8:20pm.  Best meal so far in Morocco because I made it myself.  Pepper and garlic were the key.  Cool breeze on the patio.  Brian Matteo would have been jealous.  This makes no sense to anyone except my brother and sister who know that Brian Matteo dubbed himself "Cool Breeze" once.

The other group is going to Marrakech tomorrow.  Shorter tour for them.  Aw.

After dinner I drank with Nikky and Jonathan and the waiter who helped himself to much of Nikky's vodka.  Nikky asked me "Is there a lady at home for you?" and right away we got distracted, so I never got to provide what would have been a 3-hour answer.

I got a double-take and a smile from the English chick.  Damn.  That never happens in LA.  My 3-hour answer would have broached that topic.  English girl came back out but semi-napped on the couch.

Waiter informed us that the traditional toast in Morocco is "harrum barrum".  He was full of shit, and vodka.

The other group's leader/CEO started doing pull-ups.  I said my pants were getting tighter by the second.  And then I tried to explain my comment without being too vulgar.  English girl (who had something alluring about her, despite the acne and giant forehead) said "he's being rude", so that's not gonna work out.  One guy in their group greatly resembled David Rosenberg, and wore "happy pants" and a UCSB shirt, and bluntly explained the joke with "his penis is engorged".  I further explained to the CEO that a girl might be aroused by pull-ups, but I'm a guy feigning arousal, and therein lies the humor.  Wacky!

Hung out with the other group after Nikky and Jonathan left.  Found out the English girl's name is Faye.  Doesn't help me much at this late stage.  They all left just as I poured another drink.

Surprise FaceTime call with LG and Mike from Lamonica's!  Quick allusion to a setback but I was too drunk to inquire further, and LG said something like "this call has run its course", so I must have been a bit out of it.

The vodka-infused waiter (Hassan) returned at 12am with a can of Flag Special (5.2%) for me.  See, he's not a mooch.  Total after this was about 12 drinks.  Bed 1:10am


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