To the Sahara

Trip Start Dec 27, 2010
Trip End Aug 15, 2011

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

After the wonderous day at the market and two nights feeling so at home in the lovely riad, we left Fes. This was a very exciting day -- one that the kids had been eagerly anticipating since we booked the tour two weeks earlier -- as were on our way to the Sahara Desert to ride on camels. I was excited about the desert but a bit hesitant about the camels.

Getting from Fes to our destination of Erg Chebbi involved the longest day’s drive of the tour. Sitting in the driver’s seat, Ibrahim was subjected to a lot of, “Are we nearly there?” and “How much longer is it?” along the way, but despite it, he was very patient and struck a balance between breaking up the drive and arriving expeditiously.

As with the drive to Fes, there was so much to see. The topography changed many times throughout the day. We drove through the Atlas Mountains and into a winter wonderland, where a blanket of snow covered chalet-style buildings and trees. Mark and I both thought it looked like a postcard winter scene from Quebec. Just beyond the mountaintop community, we saw a monkey at the side of the road, sitting on a sign in the middle of the snow, just watching us drive by.

At the bottom of the mountain road, the terrain quickly switched to a dry, flat expanse. It was a great contrast and put us more in mind of where we were headed. But before long, we were into a different terrain again, with low rocky outcroppings and higher rocky hills and mountains. Among the hills, we saw a village that blended in so closely with its surroundings. Like so many other villages we were to see, the buildings here were constructed of clay, rocks, and straw gathered from the land around them, so their colours echo the colours of their environment. Because of this, each of these villages look so natural and unobtrusive, despite its location in this diverse landscape.

“What is with all this interest in landscape?” the kids wondered. That was until they spotted the sand dunes. Suddenly all interest was on the landscape, and we stared in awe at the dunes. Before we knew it, we arrived at the hotel from which the camel rides started out.

Those camels are something else! They were every bit as strange looking the second time around as they were when we had seen them in passing days earlier. And getting up on them was another strange thing. In a quick and awkward motion -- rear end first and front end last -- each camel in turn (five tied together, one behind the other) raised us six feet off the ground to begin our 2 hour trek to the desert camp. Our guide, Yosef, led us through the golden dunes.

It was amazing, and we all kept on commenting on how amazing it was and how lucky we were to be there. Mark’s camel, Shakira, wasn’t quite as happy with the trek though, and going down several of the inclines -- which is awkward for camels -- she let out a growl of upset. But she forged on. The sun set way through our journey, and it was surreal; the whole thing. It cooled off and got windy, and we wrapped our heads in our scarves and rode on. It was quite awesome.

We arrived at the camp, and each camel in turn let us back down. This was just as awkward as going up, but we were somewhat prepared. What we weren’t prepared for was walking. We each took our bags and plodded away from our camels so bowlegged, it was ridiculous. One of the kids even fell down.

We were shown to our tent and invited into another, larger tent for tea and dinner. Being so cold, we were thrilled with the hot tea! There were a few other groups there as well, from the US, Japan, Germany and Russia. We had a lovely meal and then went back outside to look up at the stars; the sky was absolutely full, but it was cold! So we quickly returned to our tent, cozied up in our beds and chatted about our particular experiences from the ride. Then, watching the stars sparkle through the mesh of our tent roof, we all drifted into a sound sleep.

Until next time,

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Peggles on

Wow!! It all sounds so amazing....awesome experiences and so many fantastic
memories. Not much to report....Larry is well and his usual busy
self and thankfully I'm still improving from my concussion (1 month now)
love Peggles

lynney on

wow, you absolutely take one away with your poignant
writing Kath....I look forward to every post. Miss you. xo

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