It’s almost exactly a year since I was last in Germany and saw my family and many of my friends. And at the moment it looks like it will be a while before I see them again. With the rising numbers, quarantine obligations and generally a higher risk of infection there than here in the middle of nowhere, it feels just too risky for me.
Since the spring I have been talking to many of my friends on the phone very regularly, often 1-2 times a month. I don’t feel very far away from them at all.
However, there are a few things that I really miss. Merzouga is just a small town where there is not much variety. And since the virus is more prevalent in the cities, we don’t travel much either. In July we spent 2 weeks at the sea, that was great. But since then the most exciting thing I do is an occasional trip to Rissani for shopping.
So here are the 7 things I miss the most at the moment:
My greatest passion is completely on hold. It’s a luxury problem. That’s for sure. Nevertheless, I miss it. I would have loved to fly to Italy in the summer, to explore more of the Balkans. And now in autumn we would have gone hiking, in the desert or in the mountains here in Morocco. But no, none of that happened.
One of the reasons why I love travelling so much is that you always meet new people. I miss that too! There was even a bit of that here in Merzouga, when tourists still came for their holidays. Last year in November, an Australian woman, Carolyn, came here for just under a week. I met her in a café and we spent a few days together.
And in February I met a family who spent their parental leave with an off-road motorhome partly in Morocco. We went on trips with them, the mother and her 2 children came to the women’s association with me and we had dinner together a few times. It was really nice, and we are still in contact through WhatsApp.
And I miss all this very much! At least I can still be here in Morocco, it feels a bit like travelling.
Autumn and winter clothes
Every autumn I look forward to my warm clothes. My autumn and winter coats, the wool scarves and my boots. And even though I’m not really a winter fan and I positively hate the rainy weather, I miss my comfy clothes.
It gets cold here too, but the good winter clothes take up too much space in my luggage. So, I have to be content with 2 fleece jackets and a thin down jacket. And instead of winter boots I have hiking boots.
But I don’t want to complain, after all I have always wished to live somewhere where winter lasts about 2 weeks and the rest of the year is summer.
Another “problem” with winter here is that there is no heating anywhere and nothing is insulated. That means it is cold inside too. So you have to dress warmly when you sit “in” the café (I usually sit outside, too many people smoking inside, it’s totally annoying). And when I get home, I hide under the thick wool blanket I bought last year in Ouazzane.
At least the air conditioning in my flat works now, and you can blow warm air with it. Let’s see if that works. It’s not so cold yet, so far I haven’t tried it.
But I miss that already, coming home to a cosy warm flat.
This may sound silly, but I miss comfortable sofas! Here they have weird hard polystyrene blocks covered with fabric as sofas. Or you put mattresses filled with leftover fabric on the floor. And then they put plenty of cushions to make it cosy to some extent. In the long run it is totally uncomfortable and causes back pain.
So, you don’t necessarily want to be lounging around with a book and a cup of tea or hot chocolate. Well, no one said life in a desert town would be very luxurious…
Those who know me personally know how much I enjoy reading. And how much I like (maybe even more so) to buy books. And to browse in bookshops. Whenever I am in London, I go to at least 3 bookstores. I love it! Reading the blurb, looking at cover pictures, hunting for bargains.
Anyway, I’ve decided to buy more ebooks, which makes sense ecologically and also when travelling. But I find it totally uninspiring to search for books online.
But there are no bookstores around here that have anything in English anyway. As far as I know, there is a good bookstore in Rabat, but that’s a bit far, just to browse.
If anyone has good recommendations from the last 2-3 years, keep them coming! I like fiction, novels, thrillers (e.g. I am Pilgrim, the Simon Beckett crime books, and I like novels that are set in other countries but are not romances. Definitely not Rosamunde Pilcher or similar).
Another reason why I miss travelling is the food in other countries. Normally you can help yourself with restaurants, but the choice is rather limited here in Merzouga. Especially for non-Moroccan food. The only thing there is pizza, and that is more comparable to mediocre deep-frozen pizza than to Italian restaurants.
What would I give for a delicious Indian curry, paneer butter masala or similar. Or really good sushi (which I at least had last time in Essaouira in July). Or Pad Thai, or Bun Bo Nam Bo, or good nachos and tacos.
I could probably get most of this in Marrakech, but it seems a bit excessive to sit on the bus for 12 hours just to go out for dinner. Especially when the hygiene situation in the buses here is unclear.
Most of you probably think, just cook the stuff yourself. But even that is not so easy. The next big supermarket is 2 hours away. And even there, the choice is limited.
What you can’t get there are for example mozzarella, mushrooms, salmon (not even frozen) or wine. You can get the latter in small alcohol shops, but mostly Moroccan wine, where it never says which vine it is, or French wine at horrendous prices. I have not yet seen a Riesling.
Even the stock cubes you get here taste totally strange. Which makes cooking risotto, for example, quite a feat if you have to cook broth first.
And of course, I missed all the berries and cherries in summer. There are no berries here, I had cherries only twice. But at least instead there were mega tasty figs and melons. And they were extremely cheap. In Germany I sometimes paid more than one euro per fig, here you can get a whole kilo for that. And at the moment you can get pomegranates for 50 cents a kilo.
And I’ve recently got an oven, which means I can at least make lasagne now. Or Shepard’s Pie. And bake cookies before Christmas. Well, that’s at least something.