Emboldened by our Sahara Night Adventure, and fresh from our morning showers to wipe off all grime and dust, we set off midmorning for a really long and winding drive towards Skoura. The ride was not without interesting pitstops. From the sand dunes of the Sahara, we reminisced our night sleeping “under the stars” (inside our cramped tent is more like it) during the ride. We came across some dramatic landscapes and stopped for a bit of fossil shopping here and there. I saw an Aladdin lamp and was tempted to rub it, ready with my 3 wishes 😜😂😭. But pray tell, is Aladdin Moroccan? My elves would remind me that he was in EPCOT’s Moroccan Pavilion if that’s a good indication. 🤔
At one point, I looked back to check where we’ve been. The road snaking through and around the Atlas Mountains is behind us as we drove towards the reddish, solid limestone walls of Todra Gorge. I can imagine this as the destination of avid climbers and extreme sports adventurers. I can’t say the trench is achingly beautiful but I delighted in the pristine waters of the bubbly stream right at the foot of the majestic cliffs. Too tempting. Took off my sandals to check the waters. Cool. I’m glad I did away with my typical pants and blouse travel outfit this day. (The truth is I couldn’t bend to put on my pants after a camel ride for 2 consecutive days. Oh my Lord!) 😩🐪😖
A few enterprising locals set up stalls to sell their wares, while some other locals found areas to set up a picnic mat complete with portable stoves and pots. Unlike the souk vendors in the Medinas we’ve been to, these are shy businessmen plying their wares. Not pushy at all. Some of us got shawls and more trinkets. With that brief distraction, we then walked the short length and promptly got on the van to drive on to Ouarzazate. What’s in Ouarzazate? First off, say War-zazat.
Not Bollywood. More like Ouallywood. This movie studio provided the exotic backdrops for movies like Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, The Mummy, Alexander, Babel, Game of Thrones, The Jewel of the Nile and many more. We walked in and out of studio sets with about a half dozen more tourists who were likely wondering why we were all there. Many of the sets didn’t make sense to us. There were framed posters of movies which used these studio’s locations but many we were not familiar with. Well, it satisfied my curiosity but I was quite underwhelmed.
Lunch was in this place overlooking the Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is very near Ouarzazate. It was a hot day and some of us were tempted to sit it out in this restaurant with a pool and rooftop that affords a good view of the fortress. A few others did more shopping but no one was convinced to scale more steps towards the Ksar. Guess we’ve had enough for the day.