Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Beginning of the Return

Morocco is never dull. We started our journey home from the desert bright and early with breakfast in the Berber tents of the Erg Chigaga Luxury Camp. We said farewell to our hosts, they really treated us like a Malik and Malika (king and queen).
Jamal met us to drive us back through the desert. The return through the desert is a completely different route. For 3 hours we drove off-road through dried up lake beds ancient ocean floots littered with fossils.
We saw the Small Mesa and Large Mesa mountains and a variety of landscapes like nothing we've ever seen before.We stopped at a desert we'll to pull up some water for a family of wild donkeys that needed a drink.
The Berbers really know how to live alongside their neighbors in the desert. We stopped at a true oasis to take in the cool shade of the palms where there is natural water.
We emerged from the desert in a small town called Foum Zguid. We were back on the highway, if you can call it that. After about another hour, we are reached Tazenakht the home of Berber carpet making.
We saw the facilities where a cooperative of 255 women make the different styles of the different tribes of the Moroccan desert. Jamal introduced us to his "second mother".
We also had lunch in a nice little hotel nearby. We continue to drive north back towards Marrakech. On the way Jamal met our every desire. We wanted to put our feet in the water of one of the trickling streams that are at times raging rivers when there is rain or snow melt. He pulled over for us to put our feet into the cool waters rushing down from the Atlas mountains. We continued on our way. Jamal was so kind. He offered to take us to the airport the next day which gave us great relief; not having to worry about trying to figure out taxis in Marrakech, which is an absolutely insane city. We got back to our hotel in Marrakesh around 5:30 in the afternoon. We checked in and Jammie, organized our packing and then we headed out into the souk to look for dinner and explore. We found the famous Chef Hicham sandwich shop and watched them make us a delicious Moroccan sandwich which included sausages, lamb kifta, turkey, cheese, and eggs all stuffed inside Moroccan bread. It was absolutely delicious. Next, we stopped for some fresh squeezed orange juice at stand 34. We wandered through the souk and bought a couple more souvenirs that I had on my list, and as it turns out we got everything that I wanted! We didn't miss a thing. We woke up Saturday morning to take on our last hurdle of this trip; getting another COVID test before we can return to the United States. It was actually super easy. The front desk of our hotel gave us the name of a local testing center which was a short 5-minute walk across the street from the Koutoubia mosque. We entered, we were tested and out within 10 minutes with the results returned in 45 minutes via email. Another negative test! We're heading home! We spent the rest of the morning again wandering the souks. We went to the Jardim Secret (Secret Garden) which was discovered in the 1920s with the advent of aerial photography. It is a beautiful example of an Islamic garden. We also saw the Almoravid mosque. The only remaining Almoravid architecture in the city. It dates back to the 11th century. We had a wonderful lunch on the rooftop of the Nomad restaurant that was suggested to us by our first tour guide Adil. It was a delicious final meal. Oh, and a street vendor doughnut. Jamal picked us up from our hotel and whisked us to the airport. I never imagined it would be so easy. We love Morocco. Today we fly back to Lisbon, Portugal. Tomorrow we fly back to Chicago. It has been a truly amazing trip.

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