Marrakesh, Desert & Camel Ride
Wow, what a trip to Morocco! I just returned today after a 4 day adventure in which I rode a camel, slept in a tent in the desert and wandered the frenzy of souqs (little shops) in Marrakesh. This ranks up there with one of the most crazy trips I have taken. It was crazy in the sense that this culture is SO different from my own. This was my first time in a Muslim country. I was intrigued to visit since it is so close to Spain. Myself and a fellow student in one of my Spanish classes wanted to go but did not want to travel there solo, so we planned a trip together. We arrived Wednesday evening and wandered around the maze of souqs. This place was literally a maze of shops that essentially all look the same and it took us all of 3 minutes to get completely lost amongst the shops. The Moroccans are fiercely aggressive with sales and you hear them calling to you from every which way to come into their shop and buy their stuff. I got a bit overwhelmed that first night, partly because I was tired from the day of travel and partly because it was just plain crazy! We were asked into a little "pharmacie" (spices, special remedies, herbs, lotions etc) souq by a young Moroccan guy. He made us tea, played drums (the top of a jar of his spices), sang a song and gave us hand massages with some of the lotion he was selling. Usually they expect you to buy something, but I think he was actually just being friendly. He and his Spaniard friend had just finished off a bottle of wine before we meandered by. They were tipsy to say the least. We essentially just got off the plane and then found ourselves drinking tea with a Moroccan guy and a Spaniard in a souq. Crazy!
Kareem (buzzed Moroccan guy)
By far, my favorite part of the trip was my desert excursion. I left Friday morning and returned Saturday evening. I was with a group of other tourists from all over the world. There were 3 Dutch guys, 3 Swiss guys, 3 Canadian girls, an Italian guy, a Venezuelan and me. Turned out to be a great group of people to share this excursion with. We were driven about 5 hours out of Marrakesh into the desert. We crossed over the Atlas Mountains on the way and stopped several times for pictures.
If you look closely at the picture on the right, you will see the snake hanging out from under his t-shirt. I was NOT going to do that!
Below are pictures of some local women working with the nuts to create the oils and peanut butter that they sell in a little shop we visited.
We finally arrived to our desert location at about 6 p.m. We were going to ride camels for an hour and a half to our campsite in the desert. Cool! Below are some pictures of my guy for our trip out to the campsite. He was a good one; quiet and not grumpy. There were a few vocal ones who were a bit cranky. I guess I would be too if I had to carry tourists around the desert everyday. :-)
On the right, I'm thanking him for bringing me safely to our destination. I asked our guide if anyone has ever been thrown off or fallen off. He says "no", but I guess I wouldn't scare the tourists either if I were him. I'm betting it has happened!
When we arrived to the camp, we got settled into our tents. There were 10 beds in each tent and there were about 5 sleeping tents, one dining room tent and an outhouse tent a little bit away. I shared a tent with 5 other people from my group and other groups arrived and filled up another 3 tents. Below on the left are some of my tent mates. The middle is a guide in front of the dining tent and the right is a view of the outhouse tent.
They made us tea before dinner. Later we dined on Moroccan soup, Chicken Tajine and watermelon.
After dinner we had a campfire and listened to our guides sing songs in Arabic and play the bongo drums. Super cool! The next morning, we arose early to have coffee, bread and jam before heading back out of the desert on our camels. They waited patiently while the guides saddled them up and then we were on our way.
This desert trek was an incredible experience. I completely enjoyed every minute!