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Day 14: Tinfou to Tindouf

South of Mhamid, Morocco 
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Off piste at last. South of Mhamid, Morocco. My first sight of the real Sahara, and first exposure to the scouring desert wind.
Michael Palin - Sahara
Day 14: Tinfou to Tindouf
Wake at six as a muezzin's cry rends the stillness. Fortunately, I can control this one, as the voice comes from a pink alarm clock bought in the bazaar at Marrakesh. Click it off and lie there idly speculating whether any Muslims have ever been woken by the sound of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Examine the day. It looks perfect. Clear skies, translucent desert light. I climb down the ladder from my turreted refuge and take in the beauty of the morning. Just outside the main gate, three camels sway their heads towards me before resuming their chewing. I watch a couple of sparrows perching on swaying palm fronds and can't help noticing how chubby they are for birds on the edge of a desert. The road is empty, save for a slowly advancing figure on a moped. The only shadow in this sub-Saharan Eden is a dry cough that I picked up yesterday.

A persistent, gritty, welcome-to-the-desert cough.

By the time we're packed and ready to go the wind has started to rise. The last Moroccan road quickly runs out and we're off piste, swerving and twisting as the drivers search out the hard surfaces. A screaming wind is scything sand off the dunes and hurling it across our windscreen. As we enter the Sahara, it's as if we're entering a storm at sea.
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  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 14
  • Country/sea: Morocco
  • Place: Tinfou
  • Book page no: 58

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