Ja, well, we woke up…….. yawned and stretched and tried to come alive (there’s a song in there somewhere, Dolly!) ……and finally got out of bed quite late as Kaya warmed up in the morning sun. Harrumph, that is true for some of us. Others of us were up at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise as it crept above the Grande Dune. I say nothing! But you know who got up early.
Without the warmth of the sun, the desert is freezing cold at night so I (yes, it was me up early!) had wrapped up in additional layers over my warm PJ’s (I was NOT letting these go!), a woolly hat, gloves, scarf, thermal socks and shoes.
So just a bit about desert temperature differentials. Despite the day time temperatures of around 18-24degC and Kaya’s aircon in use during the afternoon as the temperatures rise into the mid-20s, because of the lack of clouds and sand not being able to retain the heat for too long (air particles between the sand particles which cool down rapidly), the night time temperatures drop to a freezing cold 3-4degC. But it is winter so these temperatures are to be expected. Note: We experienced the similar 20degC temperature differential during our summer trip through the Western Sahara in 2009 but when the daytime temperature reaches nearly 50degC, the night time drops to a cool 30degC (!!!). We can’t really escape this phenomenon but, note to self, we’d prefer the mid range of spring or autumn temperatures next time.
It was worth the early start though. The sun rose from behind the Grande Dune, swallowing up the shadows on the light side and deepening those on the dark side of each dune, throwing the edges of the sand into sharp relief. Something I never get tired of looking at. Camel trains were stirring as were the birds and the residents in the motorhomes, starting to go about their business, heralding the start of the day.
A quick meeting with Mohammed from the campsite later on in the morning to chat about the desert 4×4 trip that we all wanted to do, revealed a shockingly high price of MAD700 (€70) per person for 4 of us to share a vehicle!!! We really wanted to do it ….but at that price? Maybe we could negotiate him down? Andrea had read in Travel-Cook-Eat’s account of their stay in Merzouga that they had only paid MAD1200 for a vehicle (MAD300, €30 per person instead) whilst they were staying in Haven La Chance about 4km outside of Merzouga. Half the price!!! Greed is such an ugly face to look at. We can totally understand the prices we pay in the souks, that although seem so low to us, are still way higher than the locals pay. But we are happy, after a little bartering to hand over the dosh. There are so many people in Morocco eking out a living, only just surviving on a pittance. How can we not share our relative wealth a little and within reason? But when we are being put over a barrel, without the hint of an offer of vaseline (!!) by local people who are relatively wealthy themselves, well, that’s when we try to call a timeout.
So we decided that tomorrow, we’d take a bicycle ride out to town for a little shopping and at the same time drop in to visit the other campsite to see whether they still had the same prices. Why do something today that we could put off for tomorrow? LOL
And soon, somnambulance set in with the silence of the desert sand and the warmth of the sun interspersed with a raised voice every now and again, as we laze around outside, absorbing the warmth. Even the few birds around the campsite were asleep and sheltering from the mid-day heat. But as it started to cool, our energy returned. We dressed and prepared ourselves for a walk into the dunes.
Our aim was for the Grande Dune which from the vantage point of the terrace seemed to be just there….. but after an hour of walking through sand sucking at our feet, we were well short of the bottom of it!! Distances are so deceptive in the desert.
So we turned around and set off back to the campsite. Taking advantage of our time to roll down a sand dune (the gorgeous Mr T and Andrea), do a half-arsed cartwheel (me), collapsing in the middle in hysterical laughter – the sand was a lot softer than I expected and just wouldn’t support my weight on my little hands!!! – take pictures of shadows, insects, grass, bitter melons and camel trains as they walked tourists to the top of Grande Dune for a sunset spectacle – wow, the desert is a busy, busy place if you just take time to look!
Rise and shine campers, it’s time for some sleuthing for our desert adventure and a little retail therapy in town. Totally ripped off by the 1st green grocer but I really need the veggies and fruit – didn’t have the energy to barter. Certainly won’t use him again when we come shopping for Christmas Day food. Eish. Great deal on a gas bottle (to supplement our LPG which can’t be filled here),
and a ride out to the other campsite to find that the price was only MAD1200 for 4 of us to do the desert 4×4 trip. Result! We’re definitely moving camps ……tomorrow.