Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Moroccan Sahara on a Camel with no name

How ya doin?
That night we headed to the edge of the Moroccan Sahara to prepare for our night in the desert. But first, Idris took us to see a surprise - which was an actual lake in the middle of the desert, with flamingos. It was really surreal. The flamingos weren't pink, because there was no shrimp, but just seeing the water will all of the birds in the middle of the arid landscape was amazing. I definitely thought it was a mirage until we were literally touching it.

Idris at the desert lak

As with most of these tours, the plan was to check into a desert hotel at the edge of the Dune Line where we could leave our things and get ready for our camel trek. Part of this preparation was covering our heads with our newly purchased scarves to protect us from the desert sun. It was a pretty good look for me... or not.
Next we headed out to meet our camels. Based on our previous experience we expected all our camels to have super cute names. This was not the case. We were told our Camel had no name, which promoted several rounds of singing "I rode through the desert on a camel with no name." I'm sure our guides hates us.
The Camel ride started out fun, but after an hour the novelty wore off I can tell you that I could die happy without riding another camel. Its really not the most comfortable mode of transportation and the view (camel butt) is a little off putting.
But we rode into the desert....

And rode....
And rode....

And rode some more.
After about two hours we stopped so that we could climb up a dune and watched the sunset. In the mean time I found a little friend. It was apparently a sand fish, which is basically a tiny snake with really tiny legs. I seem really pleased to be hanging out. together. Much more so than him.
Our two travel companions were a couple names Jack and Bernie from some Midwestern state. They told us they were inspired to travel to Morocco when they saw two camels in a Walmart parking lot. They were fully decked out in safari clothes and I think having the time of their life. However, Jack was a bit overweight and had some problems climbing the giant sand dune. Luckily we made it up just in time for the sunset.
The Sahara was actually very windy, and sand was blowing everywhere. I was really thankful for my head scarf because it could be used to cover my face so I was breathing in sand all the time. I tried to photo demonstrate the wind by picking up handfuls and letting the wind blow the sand off my palm. It didn't really translate so well but you get the idea:

After another half hour on camel back we finally reached our Bedouin camp destination. It was too dark for many pictures, but basically imagine a bunch of carpet tents set around a larger carpet. Then there is a camel parking lot nearby. And there are lots of sand dunes. We got there at around 7 pm and had to wait another three hours for dinner... with was more (not) delish Tanjine. I seriously almost cried. Dang Tajine.

When we finally got to sleep, a huge windstorm picked up, which meant I spent most of the night huddled in my sleeping back trying not to freeze to death. There had been talk of climbing a dune to see the sunrise, but in the end we just pulled our blankets out in front of our tent and watched from there. We all knew we had a loooong camel ride ahead of us.
More riding. Idris insisted on walking with frequent stops to meditate in very visible locations. He said that only women and children rode Camels. I think I would have preferred to walk because I was super sore from my previous camel ride, but that didn't really seem to be an option.
We finally made it back to the hotel for a quick shower before we hit the road again on the way to our destination of Fez. We had a long drive, but we did have time to stop to visit some monkeys. We brought peanuts and they were our best friends, begging and harassing us until we fed them.

One of the monkeys even had a baby on her back. I tried to feed her the most but one of male monkeys was pretty possessive of our time....


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