Day Six – Dingle Dangle, Strap it to Your Ankle
The Jebel Sahro really is off the edge of the tourist map. Only trekkers go there and only in the winter, as it’s uncomfortably hot any other time. The groups are also fairly sparsely spread out (we passed one French contingent going the other way after a week and a bit and that was it), with maybe one or two a week passing through the area at its peak.
Nevertheless, this represents a potential source of decent income for the isolated Berber settlements and nomads along the routes. Thus, halfway up a mountain pass and with nothing else visible for miles around, you’d find a Berber woman patiently squatting by the side of the trail with a black cloth spread out with ornaments, colourful scraps of cloth festooned with mirrors that Mohamed referred to as Dingly Danglies and inevitably ended up strapped to everybody’s rucksacs, jewellery, and sometimes even rugs. Sometimes they got it right, and a veritable shopping frenzy ensued, other times they got it wrong and we puffed past without buying anything and they simply rolled up their black cloth and went back to their goats to wait for the next group.
The usual rate for small items is 10 dirham, about enough to keep a family in sugar for three or four days, so it’s worth their while. I heroically resisted until near the end of the trip I buckled and bought a trilobite fossil. Having seen a similar one just go for a tenner on ebay, I wish I’d bought a few more…
Trekking seems a supremely daft thing to the local Berbers, and after a couple of nights of little sleep and back ache camping, I was starting to agree with them. Some apparently have even imbued the trekking groups with a sort of Flying Dutchman legend, reasoning that as it’s such an odd thing to do there must only really be one group that simply goes round and round in circles all the time. Wonder what they have to do to be released from that purgatory.