26 January 2011

Ooh La La Sahara

The main highlight of my trip to Morocco was the Moroccan Sahara. We arrived in the desert early one evening, where a caravan of camels awaited us. These majestic animals were much larger than I had imagined; once on its back, it was quite daunting to look down. Our camels stoically trekked in a straight line into the night, finally reaching our campsite after an hour. The ride was surreal; none of us could believe we were camel-riding under a starry sky through the Sahara Desert. Whilst on her camel, Anne lit some cigarettes and leant over to pass them to Hannah (behind her) and Ed (in front of her).  It was hilarious, exhilarating and liberating at the same time!

For dinner that night, our berbers prepared us some delicious chicken tagine and Moroccan whisky to refuel our tired bodies. Soon after dinner, we climbed a large and steep sand dune behind our camp site. It took us over 20 minutes to climb to the top, which was much longer than we had anticipated. The sand was extremely fine with our feet sinking into the sand with each step. In addition to this, copious amounts of sand easily seeped into our shoes; so much so that it felt like it was determined to push our feet out of our shoes. To climb the dune was exhausting, but extremely rewarding. The view from the top of the sand dune is something I will never forget. I desperately tried to capture the moment with my camera, but none of my photos will ever do justice of what I saw and felt (unfortunately, it was far too dark for photos). The millions of stars in the sky were glistening more brightly than I had ever seen.  We lay on our backs and saw a number of shooting stars and constellations. We could see dozens, if not hundreds of neighbouring sand dunes illuminated under the full moon. We yelled absurd things from the top of our lungs, aware that we were completely isolated.

Later that night, we slid down the dune to a campfire that our three berbers warmed themselves to. They started banging their drums and we all sung together in Arabic. We were intoxicated by the energy of their music, eventually dancing along like we had been possessed!

The next morning, we arose from our tents as the sun was rising. We rode on our camels back towards our base, stopping off at some spectacular golden sand dunes. Here, we played like children in a sandpit, running up and down the dunes, writing our names in the sand, and jumping off any steep edges we could find!


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