Thursday started with a wonderful 2 hour walk in another and quite different oasis near Quarzazate. People (mostly women) were harvesting barley while donkeys waited patiently outfitted with a pair of baskets to carry the barley. Women were also dyeing wool for weaving rugs along the path. The greenery was very lush and many shades of green. They practice crop rotation with the cover crop of alfalfa which can be used as feed for their animals. We then met up with the van and drove to a restored kasbah used for many movie sets in the past. Unfortunately, we felt that it had become way too touristy and we felt like we we walking a gauntlet of small merchants selling trinkets and souvenirs, and did not feel that it was worth the long hot walk to see what turned out to be an incredible number of souvenir shops all over the kasbah, sort of hiding the reality of what really was a huge and important (though not very kindly) warlord's fortress. After lunch, we drove back to our hotel for a restful afternoon and dinner.
Friday was mainly a very long drive over the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech. Marrakech is a culture shock after being in the rural areas, and is developing rapidly - too rapidly - not enough water but plenty of new golf courses, and quite polluted air from the huge number of vehicles, most of which seem to emit noxious clouds of fumes. We made a short visit to the Majorelle garden and drove around Marrakech. A scirocco was blowing dust all over. Anne began to cough again and had to wear her dust mask outside and in the van, and even Tom began a nasty coughing cycle again. We both feel that Morocco has "sold its soul" here to tourism and not-too-well-planned development. We went to our hotel, a very modern and quite Western hotel. Dinner was in the medina, where we walked from our van through streets and alleys full of people and children who live there (holding onto our wallets for dear life) until we arrived at an almost unmarked door, where we entered another world - an elegant old residence turned restaurant. Dinner was great, and we headed back down the alleys where one little urchin (girl) slapped Anne on her butt and ran off as fast as she could - on a dare, we suppose. Back at the hotel we relaxed - until the disco directly under our room started up until 3:00 AM. Anne got dressed and went downstairs to find out what on earth os going on, and was given the "possibility" of a room change in the morning - which our guide made sure did happen - otherwise they would have brushed us off as they did another member of our group.