Saturday, August 12, 2017

the red earth

The drive from Rabat to the nearest Saharan dunes in Merzouga is about eight and a half hours— if there aren't any slow trucks, accidents, or anything else that can pop up unexpectedly. Moroccan highways are smooth and quick, but the winding roads through the Middle Atlas can take quite some time, and it's always best to expect to add a minimum of two extra hours to your roadtrip.

Last October, Pedro and I were lucky to have one of our dear students from Nepal visit us. Tsewang was studying abroad on a scholarship to finish up high school and his hosts kindly offered to send him our way for a holiday. We had a week to show him his first glimpse of an ocean, a desert, and of course, as much of Morocco as possible. We plotted our route to the Sahara through the mountains of Ifrane, the high plateau of Zaïda and the oasis of Tafilalt.

The rain fell on the red earth of Zaïda, forming pools of pale blue sky. We spied our first houbara hiding among the clumps of thirsty vegetation, an ancient-looking bird that seemed just as surprised to see us as we were to see her.

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