m’hamid under water
Three weeks ago, I thought I would simply fly to Agadir, take a night bus to Zagora and a Taxi to M’Hamid to visit my friend Yahya and walk for one week through Sahara’s heat. I ended up in the rain at the Atlantik coast, in a surfers hot spot, in an overfull minibus in Sahara, at a river where no river is, freezing in the desert, out of five nights in a row three in a bus or a plane.
How did that happen? As I wrote on one of my previous posts, southern Morocco was pretty much under water and all the streets going further south were closed. So I ended up working some days in a small surfers hot spot called Taghazout. Since I had enough work to be finished, I enjoyed the Wifi I found at any café and my hostel.
When the weather settled down and the sun was shining the second day in row some roads toward Ouarzazate and Zagora were cleared and I took the nightbus there. Although traveling in the night I could tell that bridges were damaged and the street at some places went over dirttracks. I was really surprised that obviously the buses in Morocco not only drive without Airconditioning in the summer but also without heating in the winter. I pretty much froze my butt off. In Zagora I tried to pick the „Grand Taxi“ to Zagora which are special enough. But since the two bridges between Zagora and Taghonite were destroyed it looked at first if I couldn’t find a way to get there… Two Moroccan tried to sell me a 4×4 trip right away, but I thought, that if a 4×4 can find a route there will be others who drive there with their normal cars. I was right and found a minibus. These are the normal Mercedes transporter with seats, plastic chairs and wooden benches in it. That way 22 people fit in one car and tons of stuff on the roof. Off we went for 2,80€ three hours mostly off road to M’Hamid.
There I was and as unbelievable as it seemed to me M’Hamid was now divided by a large and three meter deep river. Unfortunately local officials decided to rebuilt the bridge over that river. It was without water for years now. A day after the old one was torn down, it started raining and the river came back. Since the normal desert inhabitant can’t swim and boats are normally not built in the desert there was no way to go from the one side to the other. To help the other side with food army trucks were going a 150KM detour route to find the next bridge.
Outside the little town the desert was covered with greens and rocks seemed to be covered by velvet greens. Even the highest dunes were completely wet as soon as you dig more than three cm. As soon as I was in the shade, clouds covered the sun or it was becoming night I started freezing a lot. I wore everything I had with me and was so happy I had my 0°C down sleeping bag with me.
My friends’ desert camp was flooded, destroyed and swam away just days earlier. He showed me the video of the helicopter coming to rescue the Swiss guest who called the Swiss Ambassador to rescue them, sitting in a tent on top of the dunes… leaving the Moroccan back. They just waited another day and walked back to M’Hamid. Obviously the Swiss had an appointment they needed to make.
We discussed until late in the night, what needs to be done before new year. They have bookings but no camp and Dec/Jan is the most important season for the desert camp.
I once again learnt to put things into perspective. What is an appointment you have to make compared to your whole existence? Especially if you consider the costs of the evacuation (Switzerland has to pay) being more expensive than the rebuilding of the whole camp will be.
And still… all my friends had to say about it: I’m neither happy nor sad, it is the way it is and we just figure out how to proceed. For sure, you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow…