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In a book: my Lonely Planet guide

So I managed to make my way through the whole of Morocco without a guidebook. It was a bit annoying at times to be dependent on the battery life of my phone, in case I needed to look something up. But there is so much info on Maroc that it was never a problem to find whatever I needed, and there was almost always internet access/wifi everywhere I went.

And besides, I no longer want to be one of those guidebook travellers, who only goes to, stays in, and eats at the places in the book. And those places are so… vanilla. Not to mention packed with all the other guidebook travellers! Boring.

But then there’s Mauritania, and even Western Sahara for that matter, where you’d have to go looking for white skin. And as well, there exists very little information online, and the connectivity leaves much to be desired.

So I bought a West Africa guidebook. An e-version, mind you, because as if I’m gonna find it in paper, in English, anywhere out here. But I can print out the countries as I go, which seemed like a logical solution.

Until Lonely Planet let me down.

I mean, I know things change, and I know that the “September 2013” version wasn’t actually written in September 2013, but the information so far has been completely off the mark, for all but one guesthouse. The rest of the time, there are a multitude of places that aren’t listed; the ones that are listed are often totally different than the description (or they have closed, 3 years ago..); and the majority of the transportation info is completely wrong.

So here’s hoping that I can stay better connected in Senegal, and can stick to my old method!

photo by: Khonsali (wikicommons)
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At the table: Couscous Fridays

Yesterday was a sad day. Not because I was crammed onto a minibus to drive for 8 hours across the desert, still exhausted from the epic border-crossing journey the day before. Not because I was flying solo on the cursed Valentine’s day (in fact I had very little reminder of this, despite there being elaborate celebrations in its honour here). But no, yesterday was a sad day because I was missing out on Couscous Friday.

If there’s one thing I will miss about Maroc, it’s Couscous Fridays.

That, and the legacy of French colonization, left in the form of beautiful pastries..

But, back to Couscous Fridays. You see, it’s a lengthy process, the making of the couscous. Over here, it’s not a 20 minutes in a pot kind of deal. It’s a rinsed, soaked, and steamed in a special kind of pot, over the course of a couple of hours, kind of deal. And my god, the results can be incredible.

So while you can get couscous in say, marrakech, on any given day, it’s not the real deal. The real deal is made once, on Fridays. And as such, it had become my favourite day of the week. In Merzouga, the lady next door would bring us a dish of her couscous every Friday afternoon, bless her heart.

When I’m on my own, I could usually find some back-alley hole in the wall, where couscous was made for the working class. Yes ma’am, I will give you $2 for your magnificent couscous. Don’t mind if I do.

But now, I’m in the land of… pizza and chicken? I’m really not sure what the deal is with all the pizza joints in southern Maroc and Mauritania, but it’s a huge thing. And I can’t say I’m really a fan.

I miss Couscous Fridays.