Monday, July 23, 2012

Merzouga, Morocco June 2012

Our second day in the desert took us to the Morocco’s eastern border with Algeria and more importantly, to a campsite at the bottom of a 500 foot sand dune.  Talk about feeling humbled!!  But to get there required... a camel ride, and for me a camel walk.  This walk was much more difficult that Zagora.  Zagora was a hard pack desert for the most part.  That means that when I walked, my feet didn’t sink 6 inches into the sand.  At Merzouga, my feet would sink 9 inches into the sand, especially when climbing or descending small dunes.  It was also a three hour hike. 
    The amazing thing was that it rained on us as we walked through the Sahara!!! The Brits, who were from Manchester, were astonished.  They joked how only someone from Manchester, the rainiest city in England could bring rain to the desert.  I told them how lucky they were to see rain in the Sahara.  
You could do this trip a hundred times and never get a sniff of rain.  We were very lucky!


Our guide let me lead the camels and he walked along side.  He was a good guy.  Funny, in a Berber sort of way.  
    We got to the campsite and had tea and heard the “Berber Whiskey” joke for the umpteenth time...but laughed as if it were our first time to hear it. 
“Ooohhhh!   That’s a real neat slapper!  Yee haw!!”   (rule #1 - always please the cook!)

The dune, Erg Chebbai, is a monster.  We climbed it and sweated gallons of water to get to the top.  Walk six steps, slide back five.  This is the view of our campsite from about 1/2 way up.  

    This is the view from near the top.  The campsite looked like ants.  Small ants, at that.  It was getting dark and we knew that we had to get back down before it got too dark.  Rolling down a 500 feet sand dune is not fun.  Well it is for the first 15 feet, but the remaining 485 feet is a real bear!

At the top, just as we were about to leave, we looked to the east and could see a desert oasis in Algeria. Then the muezzin began to call out the prayers and combined with the flickering lights, cool breeze and thought of being stuck on a sand dune all night, it was magical.

When we saw the scarab beetle all of us had the same thought - The Mummy!  Way cool.   At night, we were all going to sleep outside but two things changed the Brits’ minds: 1)  one of the girls got bit/stung by something while sitting on the blankets that we were going to sleep on; and 2) someone saw a huge tarantula.  The problem was that the tents had blankets in them and they were incredibly hot and stuffy.  I told the group that I was still going to sleep outside because: 1) tarantulas don’t want to bite you, 2) it was too hot inside the tents where the tarantula may have come from; 3) This wasn’t the Mummy and scarabs don’t bite either.   Everyone decided to sleep outside on the blankets because they knew that I lived in a desert and they actually believed that I knew what I was talking about. 

Never worry if you get separated from your camel caravan... okay, this is an exaggeration.  You should be VERY worried if you get separated from your camel caravan, but for the sake of this would SEEM that you could find your caravan by following the camel droppings.  

At the end of the desert trip, our guides did what you'd expect any Moroccan living on peanuts to do... sell!  They called us over and sold us some cute little trinkets.  I bought a fossil that had been polished to the point of looking phony, but I know it wasn't because it said, "made in China"!!!  (just kidding) and a necklace that looks like it was made in China.  So what?  It was a souvenir and if it helped spread the wealth in Obama's home country... I'm just kidding guys... (shhhh...he was born in Kenya!!) then good.  Glad I could help these guys out.  I can't imagine how little they have and I can imagine how much I have, so I wear the necklace with joy and even though I may skip the flat fossil across a pond somewhere rather than carry it in a backpack, it made them happy.  

Wait!   Is that a diamond ring??  Cripes, I've been taken.....again!!

Time is non-refundable - spend it wisely!

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