Published: July 6th 2007July 6th 2007
Leaving Fez early in the am for the journey west through the Atlas mountains into the Sahara desert. The mountain scenery in Morocco looks more like the Western US, with lots of dramatic red rocks and sparse greenery, and long windy roads against cliff faces. That morning we had 5 hours driving and most of the group were hopped up on Immodium, while I just had 4 bananas, it essentially does the same thing!
Halfway through our drive, we stopped in Midelt, high up in the mountains and a hike around a small(ish) canyon and down to the casbah (village with mud houses) to meet some local Berber people. The original peoples of Morocco are made up of 5 tribes, and Berber is one of the biggest. Morocco has been occupied or settled by the Romans, the Moors (Spanish), French, and Arab. This is why all Moroccans speak French, Arabic, and their local dialect, and most often some Spanish and English.
As most of the group had tender tummies, we went light on dinner, and headed to bed early in preparations for our desert camp experience. In the morning I was able to practice some yoga on the rooftop with a nice mountain view, and locals looking on with smiles and a touch of respect.
As we got closer to the Sahara, you could feel the moisture being sucked out of you, we stopped to get many bottles of water, then headed to the meeting point. Seeing sand dunes and camels in the distance is quite a cool sight! As the guides lined up the camels, we stood in a line waiting to be chosen, attempting to match the personalities up for a smooth trek into the desert!
getting on a camel is an adventure in itself, you have to lean back, then forward, so you don't fall off completely! Every time the camel would stand it would groan miserably, but mine didn't, and then i realized it was the weight of the person on their backs! Our trek lasted about 90 minutes, and as we headed toward the camp, the sun was setting and the dunes were changing from yellow to orange to burnt orange as the shadows increased in their length.
Arriving at the camp the sun began to fade and our guides transformed into musicians playing drums, we sang Bob Marley songs under the stars. After dinner most of us pulled our cushions and blankets out and slept under the moon and counted shooting stars. The sky was so bright with stars you didn't need your flashlight!
Waking at 430 to climb the dune and watch the sunrise we waited for the sun to peek through the very cloudy morning. It was so cloudy that the sun looked white, and while some were disappointed, I have never seen a sunrise like this and who cares anyway, I was in the Sahara desert!!!