Waking up in the Desert on Christmas Eve...

Trip Start May 13, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Honestly, I don't know what all the fuss was about. Everyone moaning and complaining that they couldn't sleep a wink, that the mattress was so uncomfortable, that it was freezing, and that the winds were so loud they thought the tent was going to blow away. Well I slept like a baby, wrapped in my two blankets, warm as toast. I loved the sound of the winds, so so intense, they soothed me to sleep, and when they awoke me in the night, it was sharp, like I wanted to be awake because there was something so exciting outside. With no idea what time it was, and whether it was even light, I had to get out and see the desert.

Man, was it amazing. Proper, proper desert, and everyone else still in bed. It was dusk, and the sun was hidden so everything was lit dimly, and secretly, hidden away from everyone else sleeping. I ran through the sand making footprints to the nearest dune, and skipped up it, sitting at the top running my fingers through sand and marvelling at the curves created by the dunes. I just sat there for ages until other people woke up, thinking how great the desert was.

Berber Tent Tent Circle Dunes

When Mum got up I made her come over and make sand angels and do air jumps on the dunes. She was distinctly unimpressed, but I had a great time...

Sand Angels Air Jump Desert Mum

Breakfast was a feast of bread, jam, and Berber whiskey, before we were rounded up once more and cruelly plucked from the desert back onto our camels for another trek, this time a shorter one back to town. We bid farewell to Mohammed, one of the Berber nomads, and thanked him for his hospitality. He had told us how he was from a nomadic family from deep in the Sahara, and they had only trekked up here for this one week to meet the Christmas tourists, and he would be leaving again in a few days. The Moroccan nomad life had been disturbed of late, what with the Algerian border being closed, thus meaning that they couldn't make their annual trip to Timbuktu, to meet up with other nomadic families - a trip that takes 52 days by camel from the outpost of Zagora, apparently!

Me and Mohammed Outhouse Mum and Mohammed

Upon seeing the camels again, the pain in my legs from last nights excursion returned... oh joy! But at least it was light this time, so we could predict the ups and downs of the camels, and see where we were going.

Camels Camels

Camel Ride Albino Camel

It took maybe an hour by camel to reach Younis, parked at the end of a cart lane and surrounded by kids clambouring for money and sweets from us. Mum gave them a British apple... makes a change from oranges at least, but I really didn't have anything remotely edible or worthwhile to give... a torch with a dead battery perhaps? Anyway, we bid farewell to the desert, and zoomed off, sending dust flying. Today was alottttt of unbroken driving - we had to get over the mountains by 4 as there was a risk of them closing after that due to snowfall/ice etc.

So bar a coffee break, the next time we stopped was for lunch at a deserted restaurant somewhere over the mountains. Unsurprisingly, their selection was not great, so I just opted for some hot chocolate milk to warm me up. After having a supplementary cereal bar when we got back in the car I started to feel pretty ill as we sped round the bends, and it got stuffy and hot as the heating kicked in.

We made another photo stop, and I calmly took a photo - an absolutely exquisite scene if I may say so myself - and then took myself to one side and had a good chunder over the beautiful Moroccan mountains. I was quite proud, wondering from the glorious Bosnian mountains, to the seas of Thailand, the jungle of Malaysia, the streets of Australia, and the Mont Blanc tunnel, now to here, where is the best place I've ruined with my sickness.

Chunder Mountain

Well it felt miles better anyway - the rest of the trip was fine, and soon enough we were back in buzzing Marrakech, a world away from the desert - sometimes its hard to believe you can be in two such different places in the same day. It was such an awesome trip, we saw some completely unexpected parts of Morocco that we had no idea existed, all welcome surprises of course. I just wish we could have spent more time in the desert, and ventured further into the Sahara... a la prochaine, apparently, we will be back for the big dunes :) Mum remains unconvinced... "Haven't you had enough desert by now? ...Never!

Back at our hotel, Christmas decorations had arrived... albeit a couple of small trees, but still, Christmas!! And when we went back into town for a meal that evening there was a little Christmas tree at the restaurant, the same one we went to for lunch the other day, Aqua. I ordered a pizza and a crepe with nutella for desert... couldn't face anymore couscous and Moroccan bread for now! And it was absolutely delicious, and so beautiful sitting up there - rounded off a perfect couple of days really (apart from the malfunctioning Berber toilet of course, which was still distressing Mum!)

By the way, I'm still brushing the sand off me... mmm, desert!
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travelmonster on

Brilliant experience. I want to go and camp in the dessert - I'm totally envious!! It's on my list!

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