We left off at not being disturbed in the busiest part of Marrakesh, during the low season, mind you. This was far too good to be true. After a few days spent in the city, we felt like we had gotten to know it reasonably well and were ready to explore another aspect of Morocco. And so after much groveling, my partner was at last convinced that we should take a desert trip involving camel rides in the Sahara, hiking in the Atlas Mountains, and sleeping in a Bedouin tent. Sounds extraordinary, right?
The first of many disasters stemmed from the fact that we had arrived in Morocco a few days after a severe flood that had made many of the roads inaccessible. And so when it came time to start traveling to the mountains, our bus ride that was supposed to take four hours took closer to twelve. Time was passed in a variety of ways, such as experimenting with new hairstyles and catching up on dental hygiene. Still, after a while, a torpor began to sit in as the bus passed deserted villages and subsistence farmers.
Tempers were running high as the bus finally pulled into the hotel. It already felt like we’d traveled halfway around the country, but things seemed to look up as we were fed fabulous couscous and instructed to eat with a wooden spoon. The loud tourists at the next table notwithstanding, I was optimistic about the next couple of days.
So after a night of rather poor sleep, mostly due to the desert chill and unidentified animal noises coming from outside, we went on for the next leg of our journey. A six-hour bus ride later and we arrived at a Bedouin camp where the smell of camels was already thick in the air. I was excited as I very much enjoyed riding camels, and was pleased to see that they seemed to be treated well. I was instructed to mount a camel that was wearing a stylish nose ring, called her Freddy, and we were thus on our way.
The ride in the desert was magical. Escorted by a friendly local, the caravan passed through the Sahara with surprising grace. The shadows formed by the animals and riders changed shape and direction with hours that passed, and too soon were we back at the Bedouin camp, a bit sore but in awe of the majestic dunes and beautiful landscapes we’d just admired. The group stayed up late into the night chatting by the fire and admiring the stars that were the brightest any of us had ever encountered.
Another miserable night of sleep, this time in an uninsulated Bedouin tent, and we hobbled back onto our camels, this time with less enthusiasm due to our sore bodies. The caravan rode back to meet the bus that then took us back to Marrakesh. The bus had become our home of some sort, and in solitary did we travel the bumpy roads.
But the fun didn’t stop there. The next morning, we got to the airport, excited about finally going home after this disastrous trip, only to find that we’d been in the desert when our plane took off.
Although the journey across Morocco was not without its challenges, the story can now be told with humor and good spirits. Not every trip can go as smoothly as we like, but every journey helps build the memories that make us exceptional sojourners.