DAY EIGHTY-SIX We were up before dawn cooking breakfast in a bitterly cold wind. We had showers in the open air shower block then left Meskie and drove into town for coffees.
On the road once again, we headed for Todra Gorge, about 300 kilometres away, taking our time and stopping for plenty of coffees on the way.
I was feeling pretty crook¹ with the beginnings of what felt like a chest infection so I missed a lot of the day’s scenery through being asleep.
At around 4:00, with the sun well down towards the horizon, and a real chill in the air, we were stopped by a police road-block at the mouth of the gorge. Their story was that a flood had closed the track up to the Gorge Hotel but it was obvious that a pay-off had been made by the owner of the hotel just outside the gorge to drum up more business. One of the locals went up to fetch the owner of the hotel up in the gorge. He came down and basically told the police to Fuck Off & we were free to carry on up into the gorge.
We drove up the river-bed in the centre of the gorge, down which flowed a stream of lovely clear water through which waded a procession of aging Italian tourists with their shoes off and their skirts lifted.
On both sides, the walls of the gorge rose sheer for 200-300 metres and much of it was, in fact, overhanging, with the last rays of the sun bathing the topmost part of the cliff with bright yellow light. The hotel is built right in under the deepest part of the overhang. We parked the truck on the opposite side of the gorge and crossed the creek to see what delights were in store for us. We were assigned a comfortable room for all 7 of us to sleep in, but, best of all, there were HOT SHOWERS and HEATERS in the restaurant.
We had coffee in the warmth of the restaurant and took turns luxuriating in the very hot water of the showers – our first hot showers in 4 months!
Tea was a long-winded affair with salad, soup, stew and tahine (pronounced Tah-zhine), the traditional Moroccan way of cooking, served with couscous and vegetables.
After coffee and dates, a trio of locals played Moroccan music for us with drums and a banjo. Outside, it was a very cold night with only a small piece of the clear, cold, star-filled sky visible above the cliffs. We all slept well in the comfort and warmth of our room.