We have scribbled down in a notebook, a local cell phone number for this guy who we don’t really know and can’t really communicate with (he’s the friend of the door guy at the hostel and he speaks French and Arabic) and we’re supposed to call him an hour before returning to Marrakech on Friday so that he can make his way from the mysterious underbelly of the city to the Centreville McDonald’s to reclaim the car that we’ve rented from earlier today.
Just this morning, after showing up at the hostel an hour late, our rentor had us fill out a few forms before walking to a small square (still well within the medina) where our rental car sat waiting, complete with the owner’s bottle of cologne, sparkly lighter, and bootlegged copy of Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits still present. Fortunately he had the time to drive us out of the medina (I’m not trying to fight for the lane with any donkeys) and through a traffic jam that was apparently caused by the presence of the king and a bicycle event at the same time, to a gas station where he ran off into the day after helping us put 200 Dirhams worth into the car and pointing in the direction of the road that would eventually (hopefully) lead us to some gigantic sand dunes only miles from the Algerian border.
Driving in Marrakech is like driving in a slightly more out of control Tijuana, with more of the worries caused by chaotic traffic than the threat of violence. Once outside of the city, the driving is reminiscent of Costa Rica, with decently paved two lane highways with low shoulders and an ample amount of roadside villages and truckstops between towns.
Driving through the High Atlas from Marrakech to Ouarzazate is amazing. Definitely up there with the drive through the Andes from Mendoza to Santiago or through the Rockies from Denver to Grand Junction.
Ouarzazate is home to the largest film studio in the world. It’s been the shooting location for hundreds of movies including Lawrence of Arabia and Babel. This, along with a gas station/hotel/castle combination is the first sign of the city when coming down from the mountains. The town it’s self has about 60,000 people and it seemed that most of them were in the main square this evening for some sort of variety show.
We’re staying at a small hotel just south of the center, on the highway to Zagora. Our room was about $14 each and we have wifi,a pool, a cafe, and a parking lot- so we’re quite content. After a wander through the old city this evening for some couscous and burnable cds, we spent the remainder of the evening relaxing and working by the pool. Unfortunately tomorrow looks to be full of Michael Jackson on repeat. It turns out our cd-r purchase was in vain, as we are the owners of two vintage macbooks and zero functional cd burners.
Tomorrow we’re off to Merzouga to play on some sand dunes.