I’m really glad the federal election is over. I was getting really tired of the mud slinging that had made its way down from our leadership candidates and into the Facebook feed I view each day. Honestly, enough. We have made our choice and its’ time to move on. No need to winge and whine about who won and who lost. We just need to move forward.
As we make our way further and further south, things are starting to get interesting. The Sahara is close and so therefore is the border with Algeria. The landscape has completely changed in the last day or so. It sometimes looks like the surface of the moon. Other times there are chasms deeper than anything else I have seen on this planet. When you look out over the horizon at times, you keep looking, and looking and looking and the land never ends. It just doesn’t stop. It is absolutely awe inspiring. The roads are really windy. I thought Croatia was tight and windy but this takes the cake. And sometimes you look out and across a vast display of land and find a truck lolling along the road somewhere in the near distance. It is not odd at all to find someone in a field in the middle of nowhere, or singular men sitting at the road side in a jillaba. Just sitting there. Amazing.
All over Morocco as you enter and leave cities there are gendarmes posted in the road way. They check for stickers on vehicles to be sure you belong where you are. The look for all sorts of things really. One time they pulled over the van (full of tourists – we thought ..wtf?) and checked the speed. Neatest thing. All over Europe, vans that hold more than 12 passengers (buses too), have paper CD’s in the dash. Each morning the driver labels it with the date, times, and other details and then inserts it into something (details I don’t know). There is a little needle that marks the speed like a lie detector essentially. When we were stopped, the fellow asked for the CD which the driver surrender. He is not permitted to drive the vehilce over 100 km at any time. The man checked the CD and if had seen that the needle had gone over 100 km he had the authority to issue a ticket. No need for speed traps. Really handy! But NO, I do not want one in my car.
As we head south towards Algeria, there are more and more stops. At the most recent stop, the fellow asked about citizenship. Mustapha said “Canada, US, Australia” there was some other chatter and then I heard “Arab”. He asked if there were any Arabs in the van. Apparently, Arab nationals need special papers to move around down here. Had there been an Arab on board from the US, we would have been pulled over while citizenship was proven. Interesting. Shits getting real. There is a long standing conflict between Morocco and Algeria. There is virtually no movement across the border and in fact quite a bit of effort is put in to preventing it. The Western Sahara is a big bone of contention. The King of Morocco is activley trying to encourage people to live down there to claim land. Algeria and Mali are actively denying that it belongs to Morocco. Maps vary. I read before I left that there are a number of land mines down there. Not a tourist destination. At all.
So tomorrow we head further south. Tonight we stay in Zagora in a lovely little oasis. Literally. Its an oasis. More on that later. (I need to talk to Mustapha because I wasn’t listening to him today). Its really nice. Apparently the government goes to a lot of effort to make it an attractive place to live for people. Local tradition dictates a black jillaba for those who believe. However, in the summer it runs 54-55 degrees. In black. Honestly. Its also really close to the border. So they do their best to keep people happy. Its a big date centre. Date the fruit.
So tomorrow we head into the desert. We will be sleeping under the stars in the Sahara. We will be 30 km from the Algerian border. Machi mushkil. Noooooo problems.