We spend the night in one of the many little pensions along the westside of the Erg Chebbi. A sandstorm made the decision easier not to pitch the tent.
Our host is Youssef, a charming guy who says that there's nothing better than spending a night in the desert with a woman. And there are many women coming to his place
His place has a really nice interieur and we're pleased to stay with Youssef.
Breakfast is served in the atrium. That keeps most of the sand and dust ourside. Benj is not really awake and so it's Remi and me who decide to do a loop around the Erg. Should be something like 150kms.
Before we leave the village we bump into the celebrations of a wedding. It's only women including the bride around. I ask if I may take a picture and I'm allowed to point a the bride because she's the only one wearing a veil. All the others, and they were many, are hiding behind the camera and me giggling.
Look at that masterpiece!
Ok, time to set of! Along the Erg, especially on the west side, there are lots of Ksour, a kind of fortified village. In several of them there are hotels.
The further east we go the more desperate and isolate the area becomes. Tents of bedouins are the only signs of human life.
Seeking shade under a tree we meet this fellow. From our point of view he's pretty far away from everything. We're not surprised that he asks us for a lift ... into the direction we've just come from.
What shall we do? Follow our original intention to circuumnavigate the Erg or help this man? What would you've done?
We're giving him a lift to his friend Nasir. Nasir has been living as a nomad but was forced to settle down. The pasture for his sheep and camels is on both sides of the moroccan-algerian border. Depending of the time of the year people move from one of the rare good place to another crossing the border. Now the algerian army has become very strict about crossing the border illegally, he tells us. If they catch you, your family, yourself and your cattle is imprisoned. Under these circumstances he can't be a shepperd any more and he has built this tiny shop where he sells a few things and his family lives in.
Remi heads back to Youssef and the others. Me I'm riding north to see a special landmark called the stairway to heaven. On the way I pass through Rissani with it's magical city gate.
I'm riding without a GPS so I'm following a description to the stairway which is not connected to a major track or a road. From a distance I spot the characteristic triangle in the plain. How to get there? Straight!
Here we are! This thing was built by an artist called Hannsjoerg Voth. If you look closely to the wall you'll see some holes. These are windows of the rooms inside. Voth lives here for several weeks in the year. The entrance is on top of the stairway. Let's go upstairs!
Heyhey! What a panorama! And: Can you feel the silence?
The entrance on top is of course locked. But I am surprised to find something like an ironsight. What is that for? After I went back down I moved to the opposite side of the stairway and then I saw it: The sun. It went straight through the the little gap that formed the ironsite.
Cheers for today,
I hope you enjoyed.