Our hosts looked like a gang of thugs right out of a Indiana Jones movie, as did the entire setting. Dressed in villains attire, some with hunting rifles over their shoulder and some with hunting falcons, speaking in a tongue which we couldn’t understand, with all of the men handling themselves with a stature that just oozed “Big Man”… it all seemed like we had just met up with Ali Baba and his gang. We knew we were up for a very special evening.
We were shown to a nice room in the back of the court yard, furnished with beds and an on-suite with a shower and a western type toilet, just what we needed. We got out of our riding gear and into our finest clothes and fixed ourselves as best we could for the local royalty. Then it was off to dinner.
Picture the Indiana Jones dining scene where monkey brain was served, and you won’t be too far off. We were seated at the end of a very long table. The entire length of the table was covered with cadavers of unknown species (dog, sheep, goat, squid?), and various other treats. Our hosts were digging into the cadavers to their elbows, coming out with big fists of meat, gut, slime, fat and bone. It would go slapity-slap, from one grease dripping hand to the other, all the way down the table, and end up with a big splat on our plate (there was no difference between a clean left and a dirty right here – you eat with your entire body).
After the big splat, all eyes and toothless grins were with great anticipation and expectations, pointed in our direction – thumbs up. Yum! – there was no getting out of this one, they had guns, and a fierce sand storm was blowing outside. We didn’t fear that we would get sick from this, we were utterly convinced that by morning we would be rolling over in torment. The thing is, we feared that offense would not be taken lightly, and that food poisoning was likely the lesser of all possible evils that could possibly descend upon us this night.
We knew that everything on the plate was not for eating, we just couldn’t distinguish the “to eat” from the “not to eat”. So, in order not to risk offending Ali Baba and his gang, we slurped it all in with a big Hollywood grin from ear to ear. “Second serving?”… “Oh, that is so kind of you, those testicles and other slimy innards are just delicious”… To this day, none of us know what kind of animal we ate, nor which parts of it. All we know is that it was the grossest worst tasting meal we have ever experienced and that we hope to never ever again experience anything remotely similar.
After the meal we sheepishly thanked our hosts and retired to our room, leaving behind Ali Baba and his gang pondering about our appetite. Once we shut the door behind us, we tore through our luggage and dug out a bottle of brandy which we downed half of in less than thirty seconds – we were clinging on to the hope that this would kill off most of what was to make us puke and shit all night.
We slept soundly all night, with no need to go to the bathroom once. We had made it through the High and Middle Atlas and our first day in the Sahara, and what a day – we were still in the race!
On a final note – Moroccan hospitality rules, and we are utterly embarrassed about our suspicions towards the good intentions of so many generous people. Sorry for stepping on your toes.