Got up at 5:30 and trekked out into the dunes to watch the sunrise. The desert was so beautiful and, if you didn't look at the 30 to 40 tourist crowded at the top of one of the dunes, very peaceful. The sun rise itself was quite a disappointment. It was so hazy that the ball of the sun could barely be seen. Unfortunately my sore throat has gotten worse and shows every indication of turning into a full blown cold despite massive doses of Vitamin C and Echanatia.
Got back to Erfoud at about 8:30, half an hour after the bus we were hoping to catch had left. On further reflection and some research (over a well deserved breakfast) we decided we didn't want to go all the way to Ouarzazate (9 hours) anyway and that we'd stop near the Dadés Valley gorge and do some exploring instead. I tried to negotiate a good price for a grand taxi but failed so we decided to wait the hour for the bus. When we went to get the bus tickets it turned out that I had misunderstood and we were going to have to take two busses with a 2+ hour layover between. We decided we could come up with the extra for the taxi but the taxi drivers wouldn't go with the earlier price, and in fact, nearly doubled it (from 350 to 600 dh). After almost an hour of bargaining the oldest taxi driver forbid anyone from taking our fare and we gave up and went to buy bus tickets. As we got to the front of the ticket line and were bargaining with the bus guy one of the taxi drivers came up and told us ok.
As we were pulling out all the other drivers were laughing and smiling as they waved goodbye. A bit later as we were getting out in to the desert we found out our driver didn't speak English, French, or any of our (minimal) Arabic, and he looked confused when we repeated the name of our destination and even more confused when showed the book. We started to get a bit worried that maybe we'd been set up (why else was everyone laughing at us?). Anyway at the next town we got him to stop and found someone (the guy who'd guided us in the desert by coincidence) who could translate into Berber for us. No problem. On further reflection, we decided that the driver couldn't read, our pronunciation of the destination was wrong, and the smiles were because we'd come to a deal and the Moroccans are very friendly people.
Got to Boumalne du Dadés a couple hours later (through some of the most desolate desert I have ever seen). We spent an hour or two exploring the weekly market (I bought some old Berber ornaments) and generally dealing with the hassle of everyone trying to cash in on the tourist. We met a local who seemed genuine who told us 10 Dh out to the gorge (an annoying guy had been telling us 15), and suggested we stay at his hotel. We decided on another hotel that sounded like excellent from the guide book, but went with our new friend to catch the taxi. It was a shared taxi and was crammed full of colorful locals - a very tight fit for the 30 or so kilometers out to our chosen place. When we got there the driver claimed we had told somebody we would pay 15 dh and a huge argument ensued. Eventually he gave up and took our ten and we decided the annoying guy must have told the driver that we would pay that.
The hotel is great. It's right across from the river and surrounded by fig trees and towering canyon walls. We're the only guests and consequently have three very large rooms to ourselves. The owner and the other employee are very friendly, if a bit odd. They prepared a fantastic diner for us and we all had showers (heaven after our two days in the Sahara), talked, and played cards late into the night (well after four).