Monday, July 5, 2010

Sweating in the Sahara - Erg Chigaga, Morocco

Traveling to Morocco was a nightmare for everyone but we all survived. Melanie and Ashwin Shashindranath's flight was canceled so they had to drive all night to Chicago in order to make their 9am flight. Sara Collins' (aka Lizzy) had to run through several airports to make her connections. And Sara and John's flight was filled with out of control children. There was screaming, running up and down the aisles, and a child even hit Sara in the face. We all met up in Casablanca and took a 1am flight to Ouarzazate. We arrived at 3am and headed straight to our hotel for a couple hours of sleep.

We were up and at it around 7:30am. Our driver, Mohammed, arrived at 8am with another girl, Carla, from Costa Rica, to take us to the desert in a 4x4. We had a long five hour drive to the edge of the Sahara desert. Even with AC we were sweating like crazy. We stopped at a small hotel in M'Hamid and had lunch, took naps, and watched Germany kill Argentina. We had to chill there for a few hours because we needed to wait until the desert cooled down before heading out to our campsite.

Around 5pm we headed out for two and a half hours of off-roading though rocky desert floors and small sand dunes until we reached our next destination. Once there, our guides tied our special desert head scarves around our heads and we hopped on our camels. We then took an hour long sunset camel ride through the dunes to our campsite. We spent the evening climbing the sand dunes, listening to live Berber music (yes, they brought several musicians out with us), and eating traditional Moroccan food. We had tajine, stew cooked in clay pots. Lucky for us, they were out of camel meat and had to serve us beef.

The campsite was extremely nice. Each group had their own Berber tent with real beds and a bathroom (a small western style portable toilet). We opted to sleep out under the stars instead of inside the tent because it was much cooler outside. The stars were incredible! We saw so many shooting stars that we lost count. The moon didn't grace us with it's presence until about midnight but once it arrived it lit up the whole desert.

As we were falling asleep Lizzy started screaming and jumped out of her bed so fast that we thought there was a snake in her bed. No, it was just a giant beetle. In a matter of seconds, John and Lizzy were standing on the elevated beds in hysterics. It was hilarious. It took the rest of us a few minutes to calm them down and convince them that sleeping in the car wasn't a good idea. We shook out all of the sheets and then settled down for the night - although a few people continued to have a few mild freak outs until the sun came up.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sad that I missed the cool beetles, I'm sure that John freaked out. Also, so jealous that you guys got to ride camels, soo cool! I can only imagine how the sky must have looked in the middle of the desert, even more beautiful then at camp?

    Miss you guys.

    Love, MO :)