Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 2 in the Sahara Desert, Another Berber Village and Camping Overnight in the Desert

Our day began early, breakfast at 7:30 am, we left to continue our journey through the Sahara Desert around  8 am.  Like yesterday, we stopped periodically at cafes to buy water and for bathroom breaks, I was able to access the internet briefly at a couple of the cafes.  Our first tour this morning was another Berber village, the tour started with agriculture, I cannot remember the specialty, there were olive trees, date trees and pomegranate trees.  We then went into the village, visited a carpet maker and learned about the process of turning wool into a Moroccan carpet.  At the end, one of the Canadians was pressured to make a purchase, a recent college graduate, he could not afford it, but there was a carpet he really wanted.  

Berber Village in the Sahara Desert

Lynnae in Berber Carpet Making Shop
We continued our long journey to the sand dunes of the Sahara desert after our stop in the Berber village.  I bought a new scarf from one of the Berber shops for our 1.5 hour camel ride for the desert, I had a scarf, but liked the one I saw in the shop, now I have two scarves.  Our next stop was mountainous area down the road from the Berber village, where Nomads live, there was a small river running through the area.  We stopped to look around and take pictures, I never knew where we were exactly, our driver spoke very basic English and when he spoke English I often could not understand his accent.  I did not care, I enjoyed the sites as we traveled through the Sahara.

View of the Sahara 

Washing hands in Water during Sahara stop 
Our last stop before reaching the camp deep in the Sahara Desert where we would spend the night, was a fossil excavation shop, also a store.  Many of the stops on our travels were places where things were sold, our question was often, does this cost money?  The tours should know, with a group of people from hostels, they are not going to make any big sells, get any big commissions, maybe there are some exceptions, my group was not the exception.

Moroccan Fossils Sahara Desert

Tools used to excavate Fossils 
After viewing the fossils, we were on our way to the Sahara Desert camp where we would spend the night in a Berber camp.  The drive from the fossil excavation site was a little over an hour, I nodded off, the driver would wake me up and say we are almost there, finally the dunes appeared on the horizon.  The sand dunes were unlike anything I have ever seen, mountains of fine, brown sand in the middle of the desert.  We went from city to isolation in about ten minutes.  Our drive said the village we drove through on our way to the Sahara camp site was once the home of the King, if we understood him correctly.

When we arrived at the camp site, we were told we had an hour before we got on the camels and began our 1.5 hour trek through the sand dunes to the camping site.  They told us we could take a shower before the trek, there were none at the camp and we would not have time to shower in the morning before we departed,  only a couple of people took showers.  We were going to be in the hot sun going to the camp, in the sand, a shower at that point did not make much sense, I considered it, but like most of the others, I did not take one. 

After an hour, we were assigned our camels for the long trek to the camp site in the middle of the Sahara Desert's sand dunes.  A group of Brazilians at my hostel warned me, the camel ride was tiring and a bit uncomfortable, so there were no surprises for me.  I was the 3rd person assigned a camel in the group, if I remember correctly.  The camel was not too uncomfortable at first, it did seem a little tired, maybe not happy to have me on its back. 

Lynnae on Camel before trek into Sahara Desert 

Lynnae before trek on Camel deep into Sahara desert 
The 1.5 hours was long but passed quickly riding the camel into the desert.  We stopped before the base camp, I did not realize we were close to the camp, the Brazilian who had been on the tour before told me. The camp was not what I imagined the camp to be, a tiny grouping of structures, from a distance did  not look like a camp.  We climbed a tall sand dune to wait for the sunset before heading to the camp for the evening.  Climbing the sand dune looked easy, in some places it was, in others, the sand sank below my feet, and I had to struggle to find my footing.  I made it to the top of the dune with some effort, did not take long, and waited for the sunset with the rest of the group.

Lynnae atop Sand Dune in the Sahara Desert 

Sunset over the Sahara Desert in Morocco 

Lynnae at Sunset on Sand Dune in the Sahara Desert

After the sunset we got back on the camels for the short trek to our camp for the night.  The camp was basic, for sleeping and eating, no electricity, no toilets, just us and nature.  A kerosene lamp provided light during dinner, we had chicken tajine, a traditional Moroccan dish.  Tajine we had last night was probably the best I have had in Morocco, very flavorful.  We relaxed, our Berber hosts played the drums, we drank mint tea, and enjoyed the atmosphere.  I nodded off a couple of times, the Berbers called me Barack Obama, are you sleeping Obama? Sometimes they called me America, but Obama was the phrase used most often.  I got this in Egypt too.  

Before Dinner Mint Tea 

Tajine Feast 

Berbers playing drums after dinner

Only light in the Camp 

Around 11:30 I went into the tent I was sharing with a Brazilian couple to get ready for bed.  The Kerosene lamp went out shortly after I went into the tent.  Some of the campers in our group slept outside, it was too chilly for me, I preferred the warm tent, and I hoped it would have less bugs than outdoors under the stars. Tomorrow we have a long journey out of the Sahara Desert and back to Marrakesh. 

Day 2 in the Sahara Desert Photo Album

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