Trekking The Sahara

I have the tendency to allow my imagination to carry me wherever way it seems to go. Rather than keeping what most people would deem normal expectations, I reach for the stars. I think the impossible, romanticizing every possible situation beyond any sense of reality.  I can’t help myself, really.  I love the figments of my imagination, so I let them run wild. I enjoy the ride. Then I deal with whatever disappointments that arises from the discrepancies later. Why exist in the realm of basic when you can concoct the spectacular?

Take our desert tour as an example. In my head, David and I would be cruising the Sahara desert on two dashing, long-legged camels. I would be riding side-saddled, wearing my gorgeous new kaftan with David by my side. We would comfortably trek through the sand dunes, captivated by the views, to arrive at a lush oasis camp just in time to watch the sun set. This would be my personal, more realistic version of a magic carpet ride, because what little girl didn’t want to be Princess Jasmine as a kid. Our oasis camp would be like something from a movie, large tents with comfortable beds, plush pillows, exotic plants and an overhead zip-away screen window for stargazing.

Clearly I was seeking the Beyoncé experience.

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While we received the stunning views, we were far from my dreamt up Queen Bey standards.  I don’t know why I imagined a camel could ever be “comfortable.” With those humps, which are really hard, and those legs, camel transportation is the worst kind of transportation.  At one point when we started our trek from the main road, a local family in a van stopped driving to wave and take pictures of us on the camels. Us. You know you’re doing something crazy when you, as a tourist, are being the one photographed. That should have been a sign, right? A bunch of westerners bouncing up and down on the saddest looking camels ever, balancing bags and trying not to completely fall off and end up with a face full of sand.

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We were quite the scene. When we arrived at camp we experienced a gorgeous sunset. We also experienced a pain so deep in our groins and asses that we could barely walk. David’s butt was actually rubbed raw. RAW.

I’ll let that settle in for a bit…

Camp itself was interesting.  We ended up sharing a tent with another lovely couple from England, which wasn’t so bad.  But our narrow beds were so hard, they felt like sleeping on industrial sized bags of flour. Hard and unforgiving. And we had stacks of blankets that looked like they were infested with something… Fortunately, the delicious dinner and incredible stargazing helped to make up for it.

I know it sounds like I’m pooping all over this opportunity. I’m actually very pumped about it. I mean, I got to sleep in the desert after a camel ride through the Sahara. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but there were some great parts to the desert, like the beautiful scenery, the number of stars that were visible from the near darkness of camp, the camaraderie between campers from our mutual loathing of camel rides and most definitely the sunrise and sunset.

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Now, would I ride another camel? Hell no. There is no way ever again I would ride a camel. It’s definitely a one and done. But my dream has now been fulfilled and i’m happy to be able to say that I’ve done it. And I’ve got some incredible photos to prove it.


Coming To Africa

I have finally returned to the motherland!

Okay, Morocco is not the motherland that my ancestors hail from, according to the DNA test results, but I’m most definitely on African soil, so that has to count for something, right? We touched down in Marrakesh and I was completely blown away by both it’s beauty and chaos. From all of my reading up on the country, I believed I had a good idea of what to expect, but it’s greater than anything I imagined. There’s a constant give and take of that which is alluring and that which is complete confusion.  Take for example the road leading us away from the airport, it was packed with cars and mopeds taking matters into their own hands, but if you looked a bit harder you would see that very same road was lined with rose bushes that had the biggest and prettiest blooms that I’ve ever seen.  And that is Marrakesh at it’s core, a gorgeous display of disorder.

As we wove our way through the city and slipped into the medina, I was absolutely captivated.  I watched intently as the cars, mopeds and pedestrians moved around each other, each focused on there own direction, forgetting about the rules in place to protect them. Cars would rear up on school-aged children as scooters would dart out in front of cars without so much as a look.  And poor little me, I couldn’t help but hold my breath and prepare for the impending collision. What we would deem a certified cluster, magically works here. There were no collisions. No sweet old ladies being taken out by two wheels or four for that matter. Here, everyone makes it out alive.

Inside the medina, we are met by the riad manager, Paschale. She’s a wonderful French woman who I can tell is a person who lives to see the world. I absolutely adore her spirit. She leads us down the alley, pointing out the street art that will serve as our reminder that we are at our temporary home. Et voila, Riad Soundouss! She opened the door to our private sanctuary. Shut out from the outside, the riad was a peaceful escape. Inside, the air was perfumed with roses, you could hear birds chirping and the soft sound of a bubbling fountain. The hustle from the medina was no longer there, just two tall orange trees, cedar carved wood, intricate tile work and hand painted ceilings. It was my taste of heaven on earth. And in those first few moments, as David and I sipped mint tea on the terrace, I had a feeling that Marrakesh would be one of those cities that I fall deeply in love with.

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