I woke up to the noise of my phone going ping ping ping. An alarm? No, hadn’t set one? A family emergency? No, all’s well in the Morrison clan. In fact what it was, was dozens of Whats App messages coming in from excited friends sharing their pictures of snow in the Sahara!
Yes, it is snowing in the Sahara desert in Morocco and the palm trees are covered in snowflakes rather than dates. Just a week ago on a road trip to Ouarzazate, I was taking pictures of the golden sands and the green palms against a blue sky, and now it is all white.
Walking down to get my bread for breakfast, everyone was abuzz with it, it was just like being back in Blighty – the weather was the topic of every conversation.
Shopkeeper (I call him Ibn (son) Ingleez (of the English) because he love to practice his English and speaks really well: “Peace be upon you.”
Me: “Upon you be peace.”
Ibn Ingleez: “Good Morning.”
Me: “Good Morning.”
Ibn Ingleez: “How are you doing”
Me: “I’m great thank you. How are you?”
Ibn Ingleez: “Very good. All very good.”
Then, after this very curtailed set of greetings – usually there are at least five more how are yous and some impassioned questioning about the health of your relatives – he couldn’t help himself. He was bursting to talk about it.
Ibn Ingleez: “Have you seen the weather in Zagora. IT”S SNOWING. THERE”S SNOW IN ZAGORA AND OUARZAZATE!”
Me: “By God. It is crazy. It is amazing.”
Ibn Ingleez: “It is a miracle. There is snow in the desert. It is just like your country, it is like Scotland.”
Me: “Yes, but now it is even colder in Morocco than in Scotland. You have more snow than us!”
Ibn Ingleez. “God answered our prayers. We prayed for rain and he gave us snow. Now, everything will be good for the farmers. God is the most great.”
In November the King of Morocco called for national prayers to he held to ask for rain as the country has been suffering from a drought and the farmers were worried that, without rain in the autumn, the crops next year would fail.
And there you have it. Snow in the Sahara. Who would have thought? Certainly not me when I was running across it in 2014 for the Marathon des Sables, sweating out my own bodyweight in salt and with my feet blistering and swelling from the heat. The world is a strange and wonderful place.
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