Days 7 & 8: TamegrouteDecember 4, 2018 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C
My next port of call requires three stages by grand taxi. As an alternative to buses, it's a wonderful institution, and is usually a much lived-in, desert-brown Mercedes with seating for 5 people plus driver. Each passenger pays a sum in advance and would-be passengers congregate around the vehicle until it's full. 3 at the back, 3 at the front, with the middle passenger's legs straddled over the gear stick (painful, that). The wait can take an hour but is usually done within a quarter of that At the small taxi stand in Skoura, a man is calling out "Ouarzazate, Ouarzazate, Ouarzazate" and after 10 minutes we're good to go. It's an effectuive and wonderfully green way to get around.
At Ouarzazate the process is repeated for the exciting ride over the parched Djbel Sahrho mountains to the provincial town of Zagora and then for the shorter ride to Tamegroute. The whole 220 km. (140 miles) journey takes 5 1/2 hours for a cost of about £8.
Tamegroute, a town of a few thousand people, is in true desert without a blade of grass outside the date palm oasis. My hotel is itself a wonderful oasis with a peaceful walled garden where I am welcomed in with a pot of mint tea. The waiter pours it from a great height to mix the drink as it falls in the glass. Moroccan whisky they call it, and it does pull quite a punch but not in the alcoholic way. I could gladly rest all day in the garden but venture outside the town to a wasteland of abandoned football pitches, half-finished concrete blocks supposed to mimic the style of kasbahs, and the distant foothills of the Atlas. Not everyone's glass of mint tea but it's mine and I'm happy to do the same the next day.
The hotel has a large octagonal structure in the garden which serves as the restaurant, where I am the only diner. There is a book exchange and I read Tom Chesshyre's book on the Arab Spring at a sitting. It describes his travels across Tunisia, Libya and Egypt in 2012, including a near-kidnapping in Libya. Six years later the situation there seems only to have got worse and I feel for the citizens there, while being thankful to be in a more stable country.Read more