Morocco by Car: Rissani, a town on the edge of the Sahara

Morocco by Car: Rissani, a town on the edge of the Sahara

Despite the Spartan conditions, we slept well at the foot of the dunes, the fresh air and fatigue doing their job. And sleeping in a tent is almost the same as sleeping under the open sky. Even those who had already “admitted” ahead of time that they snore didn’t snore. Although my night started out so that first I had to change my mattress. The first was not even worthy to carry this title, it was just a wooden trestle bed, covered with a wool blanket. It was changed to a real mattress, even soft, so I got a good night’s sleep. And the fact that my lower back hurts, that happens to me even in the best hotels.

The weather outside is cloudy, even a few drops of rain. In the Sahara! It never rains here at all!

After breakfast we go for a walk in the surrounding area, get acquainted with the flora and fauna. The camels will take us to the dunes in the evening.

Interesting bushes, right in the desert:

Then we go by car to the village of Hamlia, where Sudanese and Malian Negroes live (Negroes is not a politically correct term, or is it? but they are not Arabs like most Moroccans, but specifically blacks… another misnomer… Sorry). The village is near the border of Morocco and Algeria.

We go into the house of a family that is known for a family musical ensemble. Besides tambourines they play some special metal instruments, something like castanets, only much bigger. And the music is… it’s so African… rhythms…

Suddenly it turns out that I am dancing to their music, it is not like me at all 😉 Under the rhythms of tambourines we lead round dances with stomping, it is unusual and difficult to let ourselves go completely and just korchatsya in the rhythm. But great. Freddy almost decides to buy their CD, but then something prevents that. It was interesting and fun.

Nearby is the elementary school, we look into the only classroom. We look around, what life is like here, on the edge of the Sahara. It’s very special.

The mountains in the distance are Algeria. This is very close.

The weather here was not so good, cloudy, about 18-20°C. That’s not what you expect in the Sahara. On the way back, somewhere near Merzuga it started raining again. Even though it didn’t rain much, but the fact that it’s the second time we are raining in the desert, where it hasn’t rained for years, yeah…. We have a complicated relationship with the weather, it often rains as soon as we go somewhere, even in places where it’s not supposed to rain.

No sunshine. Grrr….

Today we still have a visit to Rissani, which is the largest town near the Erg Shebby dunes.  The road there leads through a perfect desert, in some places the land is totally black and the area is totally flat and endless. We also see fathamorgana, mirages, but it is very difficult to photograph them…

It takes less than an hour to get to Rissani. The town has about 20,000 inhabitants. Once upon a time the caravan routes crossed here. Now the town is famous for its bazaar three times a week and the mausoleum of Moulay Ali Sherif, from whom the royal family dates back to the 17xx.

It is the palace of the royal predecessor and his mausoleum that we see first. Although we cannot go as far as the tomb because we are not of the Islamic faith.

Meanwhile, as we stroll through the ksar, the kids follow us and quietly beg. If only one of the adults sees what they are doing, the little ones immediately pretend that they are just walking nearby. Sneaky little guys…

A school fence (so even a completely illiterate child, or parent, would find the school ;)):

It’s lunchtime here, too, and the kids are just out of class, still standing in front of the school:

We go to the market square (it’s a whole block).

The market in Rissani is actually very interesting, “real” and not small at all, we got lost there for almost a couple of hours.

In the spice shop, the seller sensed our interest and gave us a real lecture about spices. By the way, the sellers here are not as clingy as in the cities, spoiled by tourists… The colorful spices inspire to feats with the camera:

A thatched roof is stretched over the part of the market that sells fruits and vegetables:At the

The butcher:

The strawberries in the fruit aisle smell so, oh my, we don’t smell like that, I’ve already forgotten what they smell like, as if they were from my childhood…

“Delivery” on donkeys:

I think it’s onion season:

Crowds and all sorts of people, as a real market should be:

We turn to the part of the market where they sell animals, first the sheep corral, then the cows.

It’s hard to watch the animals as they stand with their legs tied, the question of who is going to buy them and for what purpose. It was downright hard for me there… But it can’t be helped, such is the fate… (Maybe they will graze somewhere in the oasis for a long time…)

Sellers do not pay attention to us at all, it is clear that a tourist will not buy a sheep… There are not many tourists here, although they do meet, many come to the dunes.

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