Erg Chebbi and Drumming

Jim, Lilly, and Ruby arrived for a week’s visit at the end of March.  Standard fare: Michlifen, Fès, Walïlï, Azrou–and then we took off for a couple of days down by Erg Chebbi.  We left Ifrane in the snow…

and a few hours later, we were on the edge of the Tafilalt oasis. (I was the only one cold-blooded enough to need a coat!)_DSC0872

Jim got to have a wild experience driving across the hamada on the “Berber highway” (no photos, alas), and then it was the traditional tea before we got on the camels.
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To try to deepen the experience a little, I had booked two drumming lessons with Bakkar: one for the afternoon we arrived, one for the next day, when we rode out of the desert.

We rode into the “deep desert camp” in order to have our first lesson there.
IMG_2079 IMG_2075I think it was the first time I saw rain in the desert._DSC1020We were so into the drumming we evidently missed a beautiful sunset.  So many precious things; so little time.  Still, we enjoyed a nice candlelit dinner in the tent, out of the wind and the rain.
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The day before we arrived, there was an immense sandstorm that built up a massive new dune.  Luckily for us, we had a quiet night, and a quiet dawn.
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The girls were pretty happy out there.
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They also invented a new sport–skipping down the dunes–that they eventually called “donkeying.”  Zoë’s most dramatic moment was the face plant.
_DSC1135 _DSC1137Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, get on a camel again…

After riding back to the edge of the dunes, we spent another hour or so concentrating on those drumming rhythms.
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Bakkar was very patient; Ruby was especially focused.  In the end, he presented her with a drum to take with her.  A very generous gesture: Morocco at its best.
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Then we drove a few hundred meters to the Dunes d’Or to rest and recuperate.  This gave us time to luxuriate in the extravagant beauty of the sand (warning: Zoë does not fully share my fascination–and perhaps you won’t either…)

its patternsIMG_2153 IMG_2128and its inhabitants.IMG_2140We also had one more opportunity to watch the sun rise over the dunes.

And to finetune donkeying skills.

Zoë insisted I would love it, so I tried to follow the girls’ lead, but the sand was a little too hard and too level.
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So instead, we tried barreling over the top of a dune into the softer sand below:
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OK, I confess: that was pretty fun.