After the 10am meeting where it was explained to us that we would be driven into the desert with a guide to sleep the night in a Berber tent we were assured that others were making the trip including Brit's and a party from New Zealand. All Provisions would be catered for and if we wished to place an order now beer could be obtained at £1 for a 250ml can of local plonk, after the removal of a deposit from us we were told to ride to M'hamid 60 miles south. This is better described by others ..
The village which is the end of the road, the road just runs out and the sand takes over. Once their we reported to a local hotel in inverted brackets, more like a kabutz or some place like that. It seemed to be a lot of people lounging about smoking hash and sleeping on the eating room floor.
We were introduced to our guide and driver after lunch and told to be ready for 3pm our vehicle was a land rover about 7 years old with the Speedo stuck at 400 000 kilometers. Our main concern was had the beer arrived as a night in the middle of nothing with only the stars for company without a drink was a little to much to imagine. At 2.50pm the beer turned up into a cooler box loaded on the land rover with the rest of the supplies. We decided to check the water supplies and on discovering only 3.5 pints per person went to source more as it was now showing 37deg in the shade and 51.7deg (the trip maximum) in the sun.
The first 30-40 miles were quite spectacular, the landscape the scenery the remoteness to which some people lived it was all taking some putting together in the head. These Nomads live with nothing a tent a few camels or goats and this is it.
We then made a stop at an oasis which was nicely walled and inside was a collection of Berber tents for sleeping and one main tent for cooking eating etc. Someone was setting this up as a holiday place (centers not the right word as they is nothing there).
Next was a small building built from a trust set up for use as a school by the Nomad children, honest it was in the middle of nowhere. Just then unexpected happened, it started to rain and rain it did. We were advised that if the rain continued we might find it impossible to stay in the tents and might have to take refugee in the school.
We moved on the tents and took a look for ourselves, well the tents looked nothing like the photos back in Zagora just 6 old tents stuck in sand (no sign of the other tourists ) no hanging carpets on the walls in fact nothing in the tents, and the main problem a Hessian roof which let water through better than a tea bag so after approx 40 seconds examining the tents retreated to the land rover.
There we where just the 3 off us plus the guide and driver, in the pouring rain asking if we wanted to retreat to the school. This looked like a bad option not the feeling we had been looking for. the next option back to the Oasis this was better a wall for protection and better eating and drinking facilities. So off we went some signs of life existed back there.
twenty minutes passed in the pouring rain which was now joined by lightening when we arrived back at the Oasis out we got made a run for the big tent. Big problem now was in Paul's eyes he looked around and declared that's it I am off not stopping here in this, back in the land rover he got not even chocolate cake could move him. It was now also getting dark and Paul wanted out off the desert and back to the Kabutz. we where to spend the next 90mins being thrown around in the land rover in the dark on unmarked tracks to get back. I have to say the skill of the navigator/driver in these conditions was quite fantastic.
On arriving back at the village of M'hamid we noticed that the whole place was in darkness the lightening had knocked out the power supplies so our Kabutz would now also be dark. Dark it was candles and the odd torch was the order of the day. First thing we had to look at was Paul's bike had falling over sinking in the now soft mud. Damaged panniers was to be the only problem six people where required to drag the bike bag to upright.
the main eating hall was now quite busy with other guests who chose to stay on the campsite at the kabutz and use the main hall for eating. In total about 30-40 other guests including a German group of 15 who where about to start a trip of 40 days and nights in the desert. Paul was not into this at all as our guide said after a few beers which is illegal for him to have, Paul the baby with us had not lasted 40 seconds, poor Paul used to too many home comforts not a camper, a lover not a fighter.
The meal prepared for us was absolutely fabulous and in such conditions was a marvel. No choice just meat Tagine (national dish) but cooked to a fantastic standard. By this time John still trotting about in the dark enquired as to where he was sleeping. He was shown with Paul to a out building where a rug was placed on the floor no lights no nothing.
Paul returned to hall for more drink (our smuggled cans) leaving John as he was to discover when the candle went out with no torch no toilet paper no water and next to him a pile of food for the camels. He thought Paul was to return with his belongings, but Paul had other ideas no floor for the baby he had decided to sleep on the seats in the main hall. My problem when he fell asleep was that he was the guide for me. I continued joined by a couple of Nomads whom enjoyed a can or six and a bit hash well in to the night what fantastic people with fantastic stories guided by the stars for most of there lives and now noticing that tourism might be the future. I finally fell asleep when the last can had been emptied, shared by myself and the two remaining Nomads and the last candle had burned to nothing.
20 or so people had returned to sleep on the hall floor because of the floods the tents where not fit for use. So there I was in room with many different people from many nations all sleeping together on the one floor.
The water never did get drunk.
What a fantastic night this memory shall live forever