Tuesday, May 19, 2009

April - Suli and Mina's visit to Douz

What a crazy two months this has been! Days after moving into my new apartment, my dear friends from Paris, Nadine and Sandra came for a short but wonderful visit! (see previous blog entry)

After they left, my friend from Vancouver, Suli and her marvelous friend, Mina came. After spending a couple of days relaxing, shopping, drinking coffee on my rooftop garden, I took them on a daytrip to Tatouine, Douiret (an ancient Berber village carved out of the rocky mountainside), Ksar Ouled Soltaine (an ancient fortified Berber grainery and village). Alas Matmata and the Star Wars Bar movie set alluded us. Our hired driver, Kamel, kept getting phone calls from his 'habibi' and he kept trying to give us the 'drive by' tour. After we passed Matmata, and I kept asking him where Matmata was, he finally said "everywhere is Matmata"!!! By then I had figured out it was not a language or cultural barrier, but a 'work impaired' driver.... By the end of the day, it became one of those things that you joke about for years!!!

The next day, we went with my new neighbour, Sonya, to the hamam for gomage (scrub) and massage. I think Suli and Mina had a cultural experience never to be forgotten, and I'm sure not too many 'western' friends get to know each other quite that well...! Then we went to Sonya's home were she performed the ritual of applying henna to our hands and feet in intricate patterns. Sonya absolutely would not allow me anything less than the traditional patterns (after all, she said, I am now a Marzugian - a tribe from Douz), but she finally conceded to give Mina and Suli a 'less expansive' pattern, which turned out beautifully!

The next morning we set out on the 3 day trek. After bouncing over the dunes in the 4 x 4 for many hours, Mounir could not find the camel drivers (who had to leave two days ahead to meet us at our starting location). We drove back to a cafe at the edge of the Sahara to try to call them. By then we were very tired, so we voted to spend the night there. In the meantime, they found the 'illusive camel drivers'. We ate dinner by candlelight in the ambiance of the palm leave cafe (which I now told Mina and Suli was the 'real' Star Wars Bar), pitched our tents inside the cafe while the driver slept on a table.

The next morning we set off by camel towards Mount Timbaine, our destination. But, it was not meant to be... At lunch, Suli and Mina wanted to help get firewood, but Suli slammed her foot down on a piece of wood sticking out of the sand... she was such a trooper, as it was bleeding quite bad. So, we stayed put for the rest of the afternoon to see how her foot would do. By the next morning, Mina and Suli decided that, because of Mina's back and Suli's foot, we would not undertake the difficult trek to Timbaine, but just do a simpler trek through the dunes, to just enjoy the Sahara and it's beauty. So that's what we did.

Suli got some great photos of her doing yoga in the desert, Mina and Mohammed really bonded (Mina speaks arabic), we sang songs as we rode, ate very well... by the last night, Suli was even able to dance! Oh, and the big hit was the 'bunny ears' that she brought - even Lasfar had a photo taken wearing them!

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