We stopped at another Berber village, this one with a focus on rug artistry, walked through a communal garden to get there. I was being offered little things made out of palm leaves by little kids, who were quite the hustlers. If you gave one kid money, then they would all come around you, so instead I surprised them with suckers. They grabbed on and ran away giggling 🙂 One tried to come back and pretend he didn’t get one the first time, but I couldn’t have forgotten that cute little face!
Now, only 3 hours before we would arrive in the Sahara. This leg of the drive was pretty straight, so I was in good spirits. We all condensed what we needed into one backpack per person, then walked over to our camels. These technically were not camels because they only had one hump, so I’m told they are called dromedaries. I studied them and watched a few others get on them and then it was my turn. The second I put one leg over the hump, my camel rose up quickly. I held on tight as it put it’s back legs up (thrown forward) and then its front legs (thrown backwards). I managed to stay on! I felt a bit bad for the animals because they were all tied together and it didn’t seem very comfortable. These are very tough creatures because they can withstand the high heat and the cold nights. I was happy to see (for the camel’s sake, not for my bum’s sake) that the saddle was not very big or heavy.
We then embarked on an hour ride to our campsite. It was similar to riding a horse, but a bit more unstable (and no where to put your feet). I never was told my camels name, but one of the guys in the group called it Rihanna, so that name stuck. The sun was low and the dunes were a sight to be seen. This made the whole drive worth it!
We got to our tent, and a tent it was. We did not have the luxury tents that you may see online, but rather a waist high tent made out of tarps and rugs. There was no bathroom or shower and after the initial shock set it, I changed my mindset and accepted the fact that I would be true camping tonight.
The group watched the most spectacular sunset and then walked back to the campsite where we were sitting around waiting for dinner. Everyone was kind of not sure what to do with themselves so Kristi started to tell riddles. Everyone was engaging and laughing as they tried to guess the answers. The next game was what I call “salad bowl”. We found pens and paper and played one round before our dinner (Tajine of course) came out. At the time, we were just having fun and it passed the time, but the next day we realized how much it meant to the others of the group when a few of them told us that we deserved to be tipped for providing the entertainment. It felt really good to hear how much they appreciated it, and of course, we were so happy to lead them through these games.
After dinner a fire was started and the hosts played instruments (a drum and a cookie sheet with spoons). They taught us a dance called the camel dance (which is pretty much just pretending your back and your knee just gave out) and then I showed them my version which was getting up front legs (arms) and then back legs. The dancing tired me out so I took my rug blanket and walked back to the tent singing Magic Carpet Ride by Aladdin. In a TMI moment, one of the more memorable things that night was getting up to use the bathroom and being out in the peace and quiet with the moon and stars overheads, something I’ll never forget.
I had okay sleep that night, I got a little scared when the tent would rattle in the wind, thinking someone was breaking in, and I’m pretty sure my pillow was a couch cushion. I think I got maybe 3 hours before they woke us up at 5:30am. I again put on every layer I had and then ventured out to get back on Rihanna. This time not so comfortable since my cushion was smaller. I easily forgot how chilly it was when I saw the sun rising over the dunes. Everyone was tired, so it was quiet and serene.
Now that the fun of the desert had come to an end, I knew what was upon me…an 11 hour bus ride back to Marrakech. I found hope in the fact that some people didn’t return back with us, so I was able to lay down across 3 seats. I pretty much was horizontal the whole way back, only sitting up when it was a stop for the bathrooms and lunch. We reached our hostel at about 9pm and I took the most welcome warm shower. I also was welcomed by a love letter under my door. Sadly, it turned out to be the wrong door as it was addressed to a man, so I returned it to it’s owner. I then eagerly downloaded my desert pictures and spent the rest of the night editing.