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Published: October 21st 2011
We got up at 5.30am and quickly dressed and went outside where it was already semi-light and our young guide and two camels awaited us. Rob was given the grumpier and slightly smaller of the two. Mine was lovely and, like most animals, enjoyed being scratched behind the ears. It was a short journey up to the top of the dunes and the camels made light work of it. Despite the slow pace, if we had walked it would have taken twice as long: just completing the last 20 yards or so on foot really made us pant – it is not easy walking uphill on sand. However, the view from the top made it more than worthwhile. We waited in silence for the sun to appear and finally there it was and it probably only took two minutes to completely clear the horizon. We then went back on the camels and prepared to leave the camp.
Back in Erfoud we picked up the car and Abdul took us to a small town where it was market day and the main business was buying and selling dates. After a few minutes haggling and threatening to walk away, Abdul managed
to get us a good price on a box of good quality dates: one box for him, one for us. We then toured the covered market where all sorts of goods were for sale: I was almost tempted to buy a set of the castenet-type instruments.
Abdul took us to a cooperative where people from various tribes bring their artisan goods for sale. They have a small museum there and we were told a bit about the history of the tribes and where they had settled – we were interested to find that there had been some Moorish settlements in Ireland. We were then, in the time-honoured tradition, given some tea and shown some carpets. After much negotiation (Abdul was really sweet – he kept telling the salesman that we were friends, not clients) and shaking of heads, we got a good price on a hand-woven and embroidered carpet. It was duly wrapped up and we took it with us.
The area is famous for its fossils, as it is a vast plain which was sea-covered in the Jurassic period. We visited a workshop where they process the stone, making everything from the smallest polished fossils to tables made from
fossil incrusted granite, all of which we were told could be shipped, but we didn’t dare ask the prices!
After some time on the road, we stopped for a decent coffee – all three of us agreed how undrinkable the coffee was in the desert! After a visit to the amazing Todra Gorge, lunch was at a beautiful restaurant with a terraced garden setting. The owner, Mohammed came and spoke to us and gave us his card.
We reached our destination, Les Jardins de Skoura where we spend two nights, at about 6pm.
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