We got up with the sun and had porridge and toast for breakfast. Back on the road, it only took an hour and a half to reach the town nearest to Meski Oasis. We spent two hours there, buying some meat and veges in the market, drinking cafe au lait at a street cafe and getting some wine, bread and cheese to have for lunch at the oasis.
We left town and drove the 15 kilometres to Le Source Bleu du Meski which is a large and fertile oasis set down below the level of the surrounding plain in a gorge.
There is a good camping site complete with souvenir shops, a restaurant and a big swimming pool full of fish! The water for the pool flows out of the base of the cliff from a cave that the local women have turned into a grotto where they pray for fertility.
We sat in the sun and ate our bread and cheese and drank the fairly cheap-tasting wine, then spent the afternoon in various states of relaxation.
About 4:00 PM, pete, Rob, Linda and I crossed the river and walked up to the ruins of an old fortified town on the southern rim of the gorge. The fort dates back to medieval times and is a maze of narrow passages and rooms which are slowly crumbling as rain and wind takes effect on the mud and straw the entire fort is built from. We spent a fascinating hour clambering around in the ruins with the lowering sun casting intricate shadows over the crumbling walls. Several intact rooms and Muslim archways remain but most of the fort is just a mass of demolished walls.
We left the old town with its crumbling walls and silent passages as the sun was setting and crossed back to the camp through the irrigated gardens and date palm plantations of the oasis with a cold breeze behind us and the promise of a chilly night ahead.
For tea, we cooked up a huge meal of steak, pumpkin, beans, spuds and grilled tomatoes washed down with a lot of Scottie’s secret recipe mulled wine.