My first camel ride
Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
86Trip End Jul 27, 2011
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We drive through the Atlas mountains. First stop is Ait Ben Haddou, a Kasbah (fort/citadel) where a lot of famous movies were shot, Gladiator for example. It is pleasant weather in the low 20s, yet the sun is burning fiercely. Should have slabbed on that sun block and I can not imagine what this would feel like in the summer at 50+ degrees. We are invited into a Berber's house, he serves us 'Berber whisky' (mint tea) and I accomplish the task of figuring out an ancient door lock. As a prize I win the Berber's house
Moving on, driving through ever changing landscapes, much of which reminds me of Salta in Argentina. Lunch in Ouarzazate takes forever and my beef kebabs are like rubber. The chicken ones are ok. Not seeing anything else of this town.
We are supposed to ride our camel for 1.5 hours from Zagora to catch the sunset before dinner. Sadly, the sun already disappeared when we mount our wobbly new friends. Damn the speed of Moroccan waiters. Most of the guys are suffering through their camel rides. I am not finding it particularly comfortable myself. My group of co-travelers seemed nice enough when we first met. The two latin guys from my Riad, another Brit who is a paramedic, nice but quiet. And a young couple from Scottland, the girl is Polish and speaks English with a Polish and Scottish accent, which I find rather funny and barely understand
Then back on to our desert ships. This time, I have one with a lopsided saddle, but despite my hanging off the camel on one side, it is much more comfy than the previous night. Others are having similar experiences of either finding it more or less pleasant than the night before. Apparently, there are different types of saddles. Or maybe it's the camels. Either way, the ride back to Zagora is nice, the sun quickly intensifying its heat.
Driving back through the Draa Valley. A short stop in this oasis teaches me that dates grow on palm trees. There could be different types of dates growing on the same tree. At least that's what I understood from our guide Farik. Eating themff the tree is what excites me most :) Finally, we get back to Marrakech after 8+ hours of driving
In summary, I must admit that my desert adventure did not meet my expectations based on what I had heard from so many others. If I was to do this again, I'd get over the no-shower situation and make it a three day / two night trip. I think I just was not deep enough into the Sahara to get the full experience. I could still see the town lights it the very far of the camp and even hear some of Zagora's hum over the camels' groaning. Surely a better group dynamic would also have made a big difference, I am sure of it. I am looking forward to rectifying my disappontment later this year in Jordan.
Up early again the following day, making my way to Fez on another day-long bus ride.
I am leaving you this entry with a couple of Berber jokes, Farik told us (these are three of many that took at least one hour to tell including the suspenseful time he gave us to figure out the answers):
- How do you put a camel in the fridge in three steps?
- How do you put an elephant in the fridge in four steps?
!!! Open the door, take the camel out, put the elephant in, close the door.
- The lion king is throwing a party. Everyone is invited. Who does not show up?
!!! The elephant. He was in the fridge.