Camel rides, clear skies and friendships.
April 5, 2016
I packed my bags and took off with several of my classmates to the hot desert of Merzouga, a small village in Morocco. The ride there was an experience itself, we left the bus station from Meknes at night. Our bus was over an hour late, and we were extremely worried if the bus was going to show up at all.
The bus kept making frequent stops in the middle of the night and picked up locals in the most arbitrary places. One of my friends had to get off to use the restroom and he made her go in the middle of the woods. Once she returned to the bus, her neck was bleeding! She ran into a barbed wired fence and did not see it because of the darkness.
My friends and I were laughing, but at the same time extremely nervous about the driver and the trip itself. We drove through the narrowest streets and up a mountain where the road kept curving. The bus driver kept driving in the middle of the streets, and cars would come toward us. I could not even sleep for an hour because of how paranoid I was.
It was finally six in the morning, and we arrived safe and sound to our destination. Our tour guide was waiting for us and helped us carry our bags to the hotel.
We walked about 10 minutes and arrived at the Riad Merzouga. The hotel was the only nice building in the town. We walked inside the four-floor building and checked into our rooms. We were extremely sleepy from the ride and so we took a small nap. Once we woke up, we made our way outside to the swimming pool.
It was about 100 degrees outside! We were tanning, listening to music and drinking our alcoholic beverages that we had brought from Meknes. It was a fun evening spending time with the girls and getting to know each other.
Later that evening we made our way to go ride camels to our campsite. There were about 10 camels lying down, and our tour guide called me over to get on one. I was scared I might fall, but was able to get on top.
We embarked on our ride into the Sahara Desert, the ride was not comfortable at all. But the experience itself–to be in the middle of nowhere with no technology and just bonding with friends–was astonishing. We even had names for our camels–I called mine Pablo.
We arrived at our campsite, where we had our own tents and beds that formed a circle. We ran up the hills of sand and had our photo shoot with the sand and our turbans. Watching the sunset was breathtaking, the sky lit up in colors I have never seen in a sunset before. I know back home the sunsets are beautiful, but they are nothing compared to the Saharan sunset.
It got dark pretty quickly and the sky looked like the galaxy! I admire the sky so much, especially at night, I can still picture every star located in its place. I felt at peace within myself just gazing up and thinking about life, thinking about how I got here.
It was dinnertime and we entered another tent where we had “Tajin” prepared for us. “Tajin” is a traditional Moroccan dish that consist of vegetables, chicken or beef all in one clay pot.
As we sat and ate our dinner, we exchanged stories about our childhoods and continued the bonding. Once we finished out dinner, we explored more of the Sahara Desert, we didn’t go too far because we did not want to get lost.
My friends and I went inside our tents and continued to share stories and we listened to music. Everyone fell asleep and I stayed up because I was afraid of getting bit by a scorpion. I only slept for about two hours and woke up just before sunrise.
I woke up my friends so that they could experience the sunset. Once they woke up we made our way up a hill, lay down and enjoyed the sunrise.
We rode our camels back to the hotel and got ready to go four wheeling. We made our way to another village, where were welcomed by Berbers who live without running water and electricity.
It surprised me how people could live in the middle of nowhere in the hot desert and have to be covered in clothing. We arrived at our driver’s house, where he lives with his wife and we were greeted with mint tea and bread.
We drove for about an hour and arrived at a very small town, where Sudanese currently reside and have escaped slavery from previous years. A group of musicians performed a few songs for us along with their instruments and made us dance with them.
It was interesting to see so many Sudanese in one place and ask them about their journey to Morocco.