Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

What can I say, I’m 50 and feel much younger. I love photography although not obsessed, and I try to take life not too seriously : )

Part 6 - Bartering should be banned

My card slides into the jaws of the card reader at the hotel and I await my fate, will it work. NO problem at all, this leaves me stumped with regards to the issue of money withdrawal the day before but I leave feeling light hearted that my card does indeed work. Leaving Ouarzazate we go via the ATMs only to find these machines have their own minds, we try one then another, in my mind still worried that we only have three tries I try a bureau de change only to find the ATMs have usurped their card withdrawal ability and we had to try once more, BMCE my saviour. The only bank that seems to communicate with ours. No problems, money, money ,money. I could at last relax fully, at least for now.

The longest part of our trip so far awaits us. We head out of the busy bustle of this town and within a mile we are into the dry, open rocky vastness which we were to get used to for the next day. Speed limits within town seem so incredibly slow and allow you to be noticed as a blondish female driver, the gauping stares, the attention is continuous, it did unnerve my son to start with. So many things we have to remember, in the heat he rests his bare feet up on the dashboard only to find we were being beeped and realised this was offensive. The journey was a learning curve. We creep through towns and speed through the dry flat rocky land, a trip of around 400 km to cover today.

The receptionist, our oracle, suggested a stop at Todra Gorge for lunch and thus we turned off the comfort of our main road, 10 km down we pay for parking and have a request from a man for a lift later. The gorge, sandy and sheer rock echoing around to the bird and water sounds. Towards the end market stalls sell scarves and jewellery. An almost tooth free stall holder acquires us wrapping my sons head Berber style with a scarf, this and a necklace later we leave. It is hateful having to barter, just awful. Why do they not understand? To me or is it to the English it is not fun, a consuming sick feeling in my stomach which puts me off buying anything, “your best price, you won’t offend” is offered but the rules are a blur and you just want to get away. A restaurant, by a stream, within the gorge provides us with a cool break; food is fresh and simple and the drinks cool, no need for anything more.

Leaving, we nearly escaping only to be grabbed by the man asking for a lift, a journey of 10 km becomes so very long when you have to make conversation in broken French, we finally get to our road when he insists on thanking us; down another road we are sent. Along narrowing streets we come to a stop, get out and are invited into a room with a loom, mint sugared tea is given and we are introduced to family. The foot of the head of the family is bound opposite me, the dried probably day old seepage from his foot showing through the ivory colour crepe. They show us much hospitality but as we are learning it becomes a selling ordeal. The loom is shown and how it works, I practice scraping the wool and spinning whilst the woman sits behind the loom smiling at my appalling effort, ineptitude, what must she think? We want nothing again but come away with more things for my son. The car is safe and we escape.

Signs, I may have mentioned are at a premium, in the UK we have signs to say new signs are coming, signs for everything, every foot of the roadside verge is covered with directions; not so here. We look at maps of different scales and hope that they are new enough, breaking off we head down an even more barren but good road. My son gets the camera out to film in the HD mode the expanse of openness which we view and laugh at nervously. Still another two hours to go.

Journal Comments

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