We were very aware that we were still in the High Atlas Mountains when we drove from Agdz to Ouarzazate (sounds like Wazzer-zat) – the road climbed to 1500 metres and we saw distant peaks that were bright with snow. The road had been cut into the side of the mountain, solid rock on the nearside and a drop to the valley below on the far side. The road resembled a helter skelter and we could see vehicles ahead travelling to and fro far above us – we chose not to look below!
Tony did not relish driving these mountain roads and his natural aversion was not helped when we came across an overloaded lorry travelling in the opposite direction which had lost control on a bend and had crashed into the rocky wall. Both of the lorry’s front wheels had been torn off with the impact and the cab was pointing skyward. Nobody appeared to be badly hurt so we proceeded with caution.
Ouarzazate was a town popular with tourists and surrounded by rugged terrain which provided convincing backdrops for the film industry – most famously “Lawrence of Arabia” and, more recently, “Game of Thrones” was filmed there. Tony was chatting to someone on the camp site who had his leg strapped up from ankle to thigh. He told Tony he worked as a stunt man and five days ago he had fallen from a horse and broken his leg.
Our reason for visiting the town was not to do a tour of the film studios, nor to visit the Museum of the Cinema or even the famous 19th century palace in the Taourirt Kasbah. The reason for our visit was far more mundane – there was a Carrefour supermarket in town which stocked a wide range of European products such as French cheeses and packets of smoked salmon. They also had an alcohol department where booze had to be purchased separately from groceries – I came out triumphantly clutching a bottle of gin!