People: kind and helpful.
Food: largely fish-based, mostly simple and very tasty.
Language: when spoken takes time to get used to. When written, easily understandable. If you know French and Spanish, that is.

Here’s something that left me speechless. We rented an apartment in Faro for a few days to sit out a spell of bad weather. I went grocery shopping in a nearby Continente supermarket and found wines on sale with discounts of 70%, valid until Christmas. Now, I know that something that seems too good to be true usually is, so I bought just two different bottles, to try, thinking I would spend less than I normally would and perhaps still get wine of more than average quality.

The wines, of course, were disappointing, hardly worth what I had paid for them but definitely not more.

An Internet search yielded an article in the Jornal de Negocios (in Portuguese) that explained everything.

The Continente supermarket chain, it said, approaches wine makers and asks them to make a new wine with a fancy name and a fancy label, something that nobody knows and that the supermarket is willing to pay between 2 and 2,5 euros a bottle for. They will put that on the shelves for, say, thirteen to fifteen euros for a couple of weeks. Nobody will buy a totally unknown wine at that price, but that doesn’t matter. It is then put ‘on sale’ for less than four euros and for a limited time only. Difficult to resist! And so, a wine that customers are made to believe is worth a lot (ish) is sold at close to its real value and makes a good profit for the supermarket.

As the article continues to say, nothing illegal has happened here, although one can ask obvious questions about the ethics of this practice. In fact, it also says something about customers who leave their brains in the car when they go shopping or who are blinded by the sales signs… So that would be me, but in my defence, I have only been in Portugal for a few days. How am I to know that Portuguese law allows supermarkets to dupe their customers?

Portugal is Europe, but only just… By the way, rumour has it that more consumer protection will be signed into EU law any time now.

Before reaching the Moroccan coast and following that north, we took a last look at the interior that had been so inspiring, so captivating.

(most of the photos in this post were taken by Charlotte)

The mountains and steppes were still the home of people who live precariously with few resources and much labour. Being poor, they continue to follow age-old traditions. We might once have thought that education would be the way to lift them out of their poverty and end what we saw as backwardness. But with global warming dominating the political and public discourse, education (as in: showing the way to modernity) has been somewhat discredited.

In the countryside, there is nothing that contributes to global warming. Flights to holiday destinations are what foreigners do. There are very few private cars. In the mountains, donkeys are far more useful, as are camels in the desert. Cows, which we now know threaten the planet with their methane emissions and the vast quantities of water they need to produce a few decent steaks, cannot live in arid conditions. Nor can pigs, which are, of course, very ‘not done’ in muslim countries anyway. Houses are built from natural materials, last for a few generations, begin to crumble and return to the earth. Clothes are made from the wool of goats and sheep that thrive where other ruminants don’t or from plant fibres that are naturally available, then dyed with local, natural pigments or not at all, and are worn until they are threadbare. Imports from faraway countries – imports? What imports?

From what we saw, a traditional society cannot exist without women. Besides bearing children and doing all the household chores, women seem to do most of the physical labour. Where there are fields, women can be seen working in those fields with their youngest child strapped on their back. Where there are no fields, they weave carpets. When they get older, they collect and carry bundles of grass, to be used as animal fodder. The bundles are so big and some of these women are so old that it is sometimes impossible to say whether a woman stoops from the weight of the load, old age, or both.

Men build the houses their wives can live in and their sons can be born in. They also plough the fields with horse-drawn ploughs. That is, what, once a year? Perhaps more often, depending on crops. Old men spend their days in a café, sipping tea. By this time, they have, hopefully, procreated enough to be taken care of until they die.

You will not see women sipping tea in a café. You will not see old men carrying loads. It would look comically incongruous. This is not a bad country to be a man in.

We saw differences as we travelled on. From areas where women would cover their faces when we passed and girls were nowhere to be seen we drove into other areas where older women would wave at us energetically and young girls giggled and laughed, with the boldest ones coming to greet us, shake hands and try out some French or, occasionally, English.

The Atlantic coast harboured a few surprises. Starting in the south, where towns feel like frontier settlements, we gradually moved north, where cities are home to mainly Arabs (while in the interior you are far more likely to meet Berbers). Deliberately staying clear of the cities, we found small fishing towns that were frequented by an international crowd of surfers who came for the long waves that come rolling in from the Atlantic. The visitors had made sure smoothies and pizza had been added to the locally available fare that had, until their arrival, mainly consisted of the day’s catch.

We met up with friends we had made earlier and made a few new ones. Other than that, the further north we went, the less Morocco seemed to have to offer us. It was time to cross back into Spain.

This, apparently, is a tourist attraction that people come to see. Look up ‘goat’ and ‘argan’, and you will see pictures of argan trees full of goats. Two things are wrong in those pictures: all the goats are white (so they stand out against the background), and none of them are eating. In fact, it is said that the animals are tied to the trees all day, so that unscrupulous goatherds can ask for money before allowing tourists to take photos. This photo that Charlotte took is the real thing. The goats were actually eating and moved from one tree to the next. We were not asked for money.

Back in Spain and surrounded by cheeky sparrows, we soon missed the endearing (Thekla’s and crested) larks, the bold (Moussier’s) redstarts, the adorable, always happily warbling (Sardinian) warblers and all the other birds that had accompanied us for almost two months on our tour of Morocco.

But also: my first meal in Spain consisted of spare ribs and a beer. Pork and alcohol. I cannot tell you how good it felt to be able to order that, for lunch, at the first place we came across. No longer being subjected to the spurious constraints imposed on us by a repressive religion felt very, very good.

We had enjoyed Morocco. And after Morocco, Spain was… liberating.

I had been ruminating for a while about our impressions of Moroccan people, of how old people tend to be kind, even sweet, how young men have all too often hustled us, tried to take advantage of us and deceive us, and how young boys have, in some areas, been pests that I had found (if I may say so) very eloquent and very damning allegories for.

We have a hundred anecdotes to illustrate the reasons why we prefer to stay away from people and why we have thought several times of leaving the country prematurely, only to end up staying because of the natural beauty of the landscapes. As they say, every anecdote has a story to tell, and telling one would naturally have led to telling many more. But how does one tell these without painting an undeservedly bleak picture? Undeserved, because one-sided and generalising.

And then something like this happens.

We were driving on tarmac for a change. By the side of the road stood a car and a young man signalling for us to stop. Normally, you ignore the young man and keep going, but this was different: this was in the middle of nowhere. In the middle of nowhere, you help those in need.

So we stopped, cautiously, ready to drive off at the first red flag, and asked him what the problem was. He had taken his father’s car, he said, the fuel gauge was broken, he had run out of diesel. Did we have some to spare? We did, but had no way to transfer it from our tank to his. Nothing to pour it into from below the tank, no hose to syphon it with. Could we then take him to his village, a few kilometers back? Sure.

We took him to his father’s house, where an old man, wondering why a car with foreign plates would drive into his courtyard, greeted us with surprise. Then, after his son had explained what had happened, we were thanked abundantly and invited for tea. Since it was lunchtime and there were no restaurants around, the invitation was naturally extended to include something to eat.

While a tajine was being prepared for us and the son had apparently gone off to see if anybody had any diesel to spare in the village, we chatted with the old man. When asked how many children he had, he said, putting up three fingers, ‘three sons and three daughters’. And then, ‘no wait, four sons and three daughters’. His wife, with whom he had had the first six children, had recently died and his children had urged him to remarry, so he had taken a new, 37-year-old wife and had a son with her who was now a few months old. Was he going to have more children? No, he had given her a son, that was all that was needed.

He told us a bit more about himself. He was a middle man. Once in a while, he would go out on a donkey into the mountains to find the nomads and buy their wool from them. Or no, not buy. He traded for things the nomads needed: clothes, medicine and so on. He would take the wool to the village, where the women would make carpets. Travelling merchants came regularly from bigger towns to trade the carpets for clothes, medicine, even diesel. If the carpets were sold in, say, Marrakech, the traders would bring money, although really, both the people in the village and the nomads had little use for it.

We were shown a few of the carpets the women had made, and as they were rolled out for us, both Charlotte and I asked ourselves with alarm: had this all been an elaborate set-up? But no, this was just to show and explain local work.

He left us to eat from the tajine that his wife had brought in, the contents bubbling furiously when we lifted the lid. A simple egg and tomato tajine, herbs from the garden had been added to make this one of the tastiest dishes we’d had in Morocco.

A trader was expected to visit the village any day now, and he would bring diesel. Meanwhile, the son had come back, an empty 5-liter bottle in his hand that had once contained engine oil. No one had any diesel left. But we did, of course, and we only needed to place the bottle under our spare tank, open a valve and fill the bottle.

We thanked the old man and his wife for the meal, took the son back to his father’s car and watched as he poured the diesel into the tank and squeezed the handpump in the engine bay a few times to get diesel all the way to the engine. ‘You have done this before’, I observed. ‘Yes, the fuel gauge is broken’, he replied apologetically.

He had no trouble starting the car and we each went our way. We thought of the welcome we had been given at his father’s house and felt very different than earlier that day.

That same evening, we were at a campsite, with a young Moroccan couple in the spot next to ours. Their small tent was flapping wildly in the buffeting wind: their pegs were useless in the hard ground and so they had half-secured the tent with rocks. I gave them a set of pegs that we sometimes use to put up a tarp, thin, angular, pointy ones for use in just this kind of soil.

He and I talked for a while. He said he worked for a company that had not paid him in four months, and since he could not look for another job as long as the company had not been declared bankrupt, he and his wife had decided to travel through their country and live from what little savings they had.

He offered me a few twigs with dates on them, fresh off the tree. I tried to decline, saying he needed them more than we did, but he insisted I take them, saying, ‘when we have nothing left, Allah will provide for us’. That must have been meant metaphorically, another way of saying: we’ll see. Something always comes up.

That is actually true. Take the young man who had run out of diesel. Something had come up. We had come up. The way people help each other, the informal economy in which goods and services are traded, the stoicism with which hardship is accepted, it is somehow all connected.

It took just one day for us to see Morocco in a different light… That makes being pestered and hustled and cheated a tiny bit more bearable.

Some recent photos:

Sharing a couscous with mechanics who are working on our car.

Sandboarders in Erg Chigaga. Sandboarding itself is a bit of a joke. We saw people slogging up a dune, get on a board and slide straight down the fall line with insufficient speed to make any turns.

Sunrise at a bivouac.

Erg Chigaga (or Chegaga). Erg means area of sand dunes in a desert.

It looks tacky, but these are not decals we have pasted on our side windows – this is a reflection of the evening sky.

Whenever this happens, stop. It only takes a few minutes of digging and off you go. Persist in trying to drive your way out of this and you may be looking at hours of digging. Photo: Charlotte.

We saw the first one off the trail, waving at us as we drove past. He had got stuck in the sand and had not been able to get out on his own. His friends, he complained, had gone on ahead and had not come back to look for him. I pushed his motorcycle while he revved the engine and let the back wheel spin through the fine sand, slowly gaining enough traction to continue on his own and go catch up with his friends.

We followed him and saw him turn left onto another trail. We continued straight ahead. Soon after that, we spotted another motorcyclist who looked like he might need help and who started waving when we stopped to look at him through our binoculars. He had taken a fall with his 300 kg bike and was unable to get it back up on his own. He had no idea where his friends were but wanted to know only one thing: how far to the nearest asphalt road? Our reply seemed to send him straight into an incredulous kind of despair: 75 km. This could not be true. Or was it? No please, let it not be true.

We told him about the other biker we had helped and he asked us where he had gone to. We pointed. He left to find ‘the others’; we followed him. After some time, we saw a group of bikers somewhere to our left and honked our horn to get their attention and warn the one ahead of us to stop. It took a while for the others to come over, there had been some regrouping with another one who had got stuck and had had to get out on his own. That one, too, was complaining about nobody coming to look for him.

Some of them had 400cc off-road bikes and at least some off-road experience. I also saw an Africa Twin. The others were on 1200cc touring bikes and had, as far as I could tell, no off-road experience. They carried very little water, so we passed ours around. Most had no maps of any kind. Many asked us what the trail was like up ahead. We didn’t know, we hadn’t been there yet. They were worried, the trail had been much harder than most thought, they had got separated, and on top of that, they had taken a wrong turn.

We told them about the nearest village where they would be able to spend the night and let everything sink in before carrying on. At first, one of them said to me, ‘just point me in the general direction of Zagora’, but eventually, they agreed to ride to the village named Sidi Ali first. We stayed behind them in case we were needed, but they were now riding in small groups and looking out for each other. There were more falls and more riders got stuck in the sand, but they now stopped to help each other. At the village, we said goodbye, wished them good luck and drove on.

Charlotte had a look at the Instagram account they had set up for this trip. On it, she saw shots of riding on asphalt. She said they had had t-shirts made before setting off. They posted a few things hours after we had left them, photos taken of picture-perfect sand dunes and something about you’re not living if you stay at home. Not a word about the trouble they’d been having in the desert.

It seemed we were the more experienced ones, although we do not have that much more experience with off-roading and certainly not with deserts. We had just taken more precautions. That is not to say that we think of everything – having t-shirts made is something that never even crossed our minds…

Some more photos of the past few days:

Tourists on their way to the sunset. Photo: Charlotte

Photo: Charlotte

“Elle ne me quitte pas d’un pas, fidèle comme une ombre” (Georges Moustaki, Ma Solitude). A dust cloud is like a shadow.

Left: the sign. Right: the casualties.

A ksar (plural: ksour) not far from Boudenib. Ksour are villages built from earth and straw that, when abandoned, slowly erode away until there is no sign left of their existence.

East of Errachidia lies the small town of Boudenib (it has to be remembered that transliterations are mostly French in the Maghreb. If the town’s name were written in English transliteration, it might come out as Boodneeb). South of Errachidia lies Merzouga. Both towns can be reached from Errachidia via paved roads. In fact, although tour buses don’t visit Boudenib, they do frequent Merzouga.

These two towns are also connected to each other by a web of trails that lead right through the desert. Navigating one’s way along those trails typically results in a journey of around 170 km.

We wanted to do that, and what is more, we wanted to do that on our own. At first, we had hoped to find kindred spirits with whom to hook up for the duration of a drive through the desert, but there were only rallies organised in advance and groups of friends who we did not feel at ease with. And besides that, one has to start somewhere before setting off through darkest Africa, the endless expanses of the Gobi desert or the Uyuni salt flats. Right? We were told others would pass on the same trails, so there was nothing wrong with doing this on our own.

We did make sure we had everything covered, though: both diesel tanks full, about 60 liters of drinking water in the fresh water tank plus twenty liters in jerry cans in case the water tank ruptured, plenty of canned and dried food, plenty of propane and petrol for cooking on our two stoves, sim cards from two different providers, several smartphones with gps and duplicate route descriptions… Plus, of course, all the redundancy that is built into the car.

In hindsight, this was overkill. On day one, we saw three cars, eight motorcycles and one dune buggy. They all could have helped us in case of trouble. On day two, closer to our destination, we encountered more cars and buggies than we had bargained for…

We found a good spot to spend the night and sat for a long time looking at the stars and feeling good about being exactly where we wanted to be.

Photo: Charlotte

Photo: Charlotte

The following day, several lines of earth walls and guard posts placed at regular intervals to our left made it clear that the Algerian border was not far off. After driving for two hours, we arrived at one of those quintessential oases, looked around and decided to stay for a few hours.

Charlotte had just begun to cook lunch when three Spanish dune buggies arrived and, of all possible places in the oasis, parked next to us.

Spanish people generally like to talk. A lot. In a loud voice, and often all at the same time. Many talk not to have a conversation but to fill the air with their voices and be heard.

So we sat there with those Spaniards who were making sure they were being heard, and we started getting ready to leave. But then they left, and so Charlotte continued to cook lunch.

Then about ten Spanish 4×4’s arrived. They also parked right next to us. Men, women and children poured out of them. And they started doing that Spanish thing. Charlotte, knowing how I felt about that, abandoned all hope of finishing lunch and began to pack up. We managed (just!) to manoeuvre around one of their cars which had been parked squarely across the trail and continued to Merzouga.

Photo: Charlotte

Photo: Charlotte

Merzouga is a playground for grown-ups. People arrive with their 4×4’s or with dune buggies on trailers, or they arrive on tour buses, rent buggies and quads and go play in the sand dunes. Short camel rides seem to be popular, as is watching the sun set from the top of the dunes – with a guide. People dressed like real bedouins offer services and wares.

Merzouga is also where I take the car for an oil change and a small repair and watch first-hand what I have heard before: problem? no problem. Anything can be fixed with a bit of ingenuity and the tools that happen to be available.

We are ready for some more desert.

It is imperative. No really, these photos need to be published now. Today, we will undoubtedly be taking more and we cannot swamp the hapless reader with images. Ebloui… It is French for blinded, but also for dumbfounded. We are blinded, dumbfounded by so much beauty. Most of these have been team work, where we discussed how to take them and then ran them through the software on our phones. Clicking on them, as always, will produce a version of slightly better quality, with most of them limited to 1500px height or width.

Have a look:

At the end of a stretch of toll road, I gave the man at the toll booth some money and he handed me the change. It could have ended there, a routine exchange that could be (and often is) handled by a machine. But then I thanked him in Bask: eskerrik asko. His face lit up in surprise, a big smile was my reward and I could not help but smile back. In only an instant, something had happened, there had been a connection. It took me as much by surprise as it had taken him.

Navarran landscape

Without a shepard to keep it moving, a flock of sheep reacts very differently to an approaching car. These sheep froze, put their heads down and closed ranks. Occasionally, one would look up to see what we were doing. It took a while for them to become dimly aware that we did not pose a threat.

Photo: Charlotte

We had left Aragón and moved into Navarra. There were obvious changes: houses were predominantly whitewashed but with bits of timber framing or rock masonry visible, Bask names were now everywhere. For a few days we had retraced familiar terrain. Ten years earlier, we had cycled through Lumbier (Navarra) and nearby Sos del Rey Católico (Aragón) on our way to Valencia. Now, we had revisited this area, had hiked parts we had not seen before and had driven a last challenging stretch of dirt road that, muddy and with deep ruts, had been passable only because of our new tyres. We had made a small detour into France, to Saint Jean Pied de Port, where hikers on their way to Santiago de Compostela take time off to get a decent meal, buy new hiking gear, and mingle, and where we had, ten years ago, looked with trepidation at the mountains we were about to cross on our bicycles.

In Sos del Rey Católico. Top: 2009. Bottom: 2019.

So back in Saint Jean after ten years, we had parked the car near the old town and enjoyed a good meal. We had reinflated our tyres for the first time in a few weeks and headed for the coast.

San Sebastián (Donostia in Bask language) was a gem. With several beaches and an ocean filled with surfers waiting for a good wave, a park on a hill with unparalleled views of the city and a pedestrian zone where people stood ouside bars enjoying pintxos and wine, and not a tour group or trinket shop in sight, what was there not to like?

Colourful area on the outskirts of San Sebastián

Moving on to Bilbao, we dutifully admired Calatrava’s footbridge and visited the Guggenheim museum. And sampled a lot more pintxos.

Pintxos are essential. Pronounced approximately the way you would pronounce ‘pinchos’, they are not just hors d’oeuvres (like tapas are in other parts of Spain), consumed standing with a glass of wine or beer, be it in the early afternoon or the early evening, before moving on to a restaurant for a real meal. They are also works of art that first please the eye and then the palate. The counters of bars abound with them and all you have to do is point. They are a celebration of Basque cuisine and a clear statement against Spanish cuisine, which tends to be uninspired, greasy and the realm of overcooked meat and absent vegetables. In San Sebastián as well as Bilbao, each bar has its own pintxos and they all try to outdo each other, leading to a foody paradise that the foody finds impossible to leave.

But it was time to move on. In a reversal of our earlier plans, we had decided to drive through Spain rather quickly, spend what was left of October, November and December in Morocco, then return to the Iberian peninsula, fly to Geneva in January for a month or so to ski in the Alps, fly back south to where the car would be waiting, and only then slowly work our way up through Portugal. And then… who knows? Scandinavia, Baltic republics, Eastern Europe? Turkey, probably, and on into Georgia, Armenia, Iran. It is often difficult to distinguish between wishes and plans.

So we drove through Castilla y León, Extremadura, Andalucía, stopping only near Salamanca, Cáceres and Sevilla, each time at a campsite outside the city but with a regular bus service to the city centre.

In Cáceres

And then we crossed the Gibraltar Straight to Ceuta. Ceuta, of course, is a Spanish exclave in Morocco, so we were still technically in Spain and there was still a border to be crossed. We had not expected the border crossing to be smooth, and it wasn’t. First, while on our way to the border, we were waved down by what looked like a homeless person, who pointed away from the border and up a hill, saying something about buying a ticket first and could we spare some money for his kind advice? Others pointed up the hill as well, so we took that seriously, although we had not understood what this was about. After a lot of driving around and some more advice (free this time), we arrived at a parking lot where, it turned out, border candidates were herded and released a few at a time, apparently with the aim of reducing the lines at the border itself. We were given the green light (and a piece of paper with our permission to proceed) after an hour. And this was still in Spain…

All in all, crossing the border took close to three hours. Since the car is registered in Charlotte’s name, she had to temporarily import it, making it difficult for her to fly to the Netherlands to visit her mother without getting arrested for leaving the country without the car. There is a workaround, but it’s a bit of a hassle.

Before heading off to the parts of Morocco that have an excellent reputation for off-roading, we visited Chefchauoen, which is known for being… blue.

Chefchaouen

A German told us he had seen Japanese tourists everywhere. We only saw Chinese. One of them took a photo of an old woman, prompting a young man to leap to his feet, point at her camera and repeat with more than a little insistence what may well have been the extent of his English: Delete! Delete!

Freshly painted street in Chefchaouen. Choosing the colour was easy.

On our way south, dirt roads led us through cedar forests and into more arid terrain. We arrived in the small town of Midelt. From here, a wealth of options opened up.

Bivouac at lake Afnourir

Making new friends in Midelt

We pored over our maps, trying to make sense of the number of areas we had heard about and the multitude of trails running through them. But like a few times before, whatever plans we might have come up with were quickly revised. Something came up and I needed to seek medical help. OK, sure, fine.

As luck would have it, there was a hospital just around the corner from the campsite that we had spent the night at. But after hearing what I had come for, they said, you have to go to another hospital.

As luck would have it, that happened to be on the other side of town. There, we were ushered straight into the emergency doctor’s office, in spite of the crowd that seemed to be waiting for their turn. But not all the tests that I needed could be done there. It would be better to go to a bigger city.

Meknes was only 177 km away. It took us the better part of the day to get there, what with road repair and trucks that, laden with far more sheep, straw or other heavy cargo than the constructor would have allowed, crawled along on the winding mountain road.

In the hospital the same thing happened: straight into the doctor’s office, in spite of a sizeable number of people who were waiting. Only those who were carried in with injuries were attended to more swiftly. Not much more result, though: the doctor asked a few questions and then concluded that a tumour would be the most likely explanation. He gave me a referral to a (any) laboratory for tests, one for any place that could do ultrasound, and one for any specialist with a private practice. Where will we find all this? Yellow pages.

Charlotte outdid herself when she found accomodation on the edge of the old town. A riad, it used to be a family mansion that housed several generations, all of whom had their personal, richly adorned space but who met and shared meals in common spaces that were even more spectacular than all the private rooms.

(I am reminded of Isabel Allende’s Casa de los Espíritus, of which I once read a part during a two-hour stopover at the airport of Santiago de Chile, under the disapproving eye of the station manager, a staunch Pinochet supporter: you are reading that???)

The rooftop, converted into several seating areas at various levels, quickly became one of our favourite places. Every day, shortly before sunset, hundreds of storks would appear on the horizon and fly directly overhead in musters of up to a few dozen, just above the houses and all on their way south. Swifts would noisily flutter while making sure they avoided the storks which, much bigger and thundering past in a straight line, had every reason to expect the smaller birds to get out of their way. As the sun set, mosques called the faithful to prayer, for the howmanieth time that day? Then, tiny bats came to dominate the now rapidly darkening sky, while first Jupiter and soon after that other celestial bodies lit up to fill what would have been a dull voûte céleste without them.

Musters of storks… that’s what they are called. Personally, I would have preferred droves. Or squadrons.

Were the storks migrating? Probably. They traditionally spend the winter south of the Sahara, although recently, at least some of the storks have tended to stay in Morocco. The explanation researchers have come up with: an increase in rubbish tips means there is enough food available, and migrating to the tropics before the northern hemisphere winter to find food is no longer necessary.

Left: Friday. Right: Saturday.

Moroccan fashion. Photo: Charlotte.

Meknes has an ancient underground prison that is reputed to have once had a capacity of forty thousand prisoners and/or slaves, who were kept in one giant vaulted space without cells. The light that shines down on Charlotte comes from a skylight through which also fresh air could enter and food was dropped. The orange-coloured light in the background comes from light bulbs that have been installed for the benefit of visitors, who would otherwise have trouble seeing in what is a much more tenebrous space than this photo suggests.

We stayed in Meknes for a few days. I had tests done and saw a specialist. False alarm: no tumour. Phew. So we are heading south again. We have a lot of offroading to do.