Okay so tonight’s wifi (pronounced “wee-fee” in Morocco) has only allowed me to add the two photos I downloaded from snapchat, so like before – the rest will be added at a later date 🙂 (Update: everything has been added!!)
Have I already written about the breakfasts in Morocco? Bread, bread, and more bread. And tea/coffee/amazingly fresh OJ. But we’ve definitely all been loading up on delicious, freshly made carbs the last few days.
No difference at Chez Yacob, though we had an amazing view, and a very pretty cat at our feet. We packed up the 4x4s and took off on a 2 hour walk through the palm groves of Tamnougalt. The growing season for almost all crops is finished, but we came across a few families cutting the last bunches of dates off of their trees – snacking on those as we walked. Or more accurately – stumbled. 3 of the 6 of us took a tumble while following Ibrahim through the groves; only on something that resembled a pathway about 20% of the time. Looking at my hand right now, I may unintentionally be bringing some plant life back into the US due to a splinter (?) I got after grabbing into a random plant to prevent myself from falling. Oops.
Our 4x4s met up with us a few towns over, and thus began our journey into the Sahara. (With a stop in the last town before the desert, Zagora, for lunch and Wifi. Of course. ?)
Let me tell you about riding 80km into the Sahara with a full bladder. I actually won’t be saying much more than that about the matter, since I am now in the same situation heading out of the desert, and though I’d’ve thought it impossible, this ride is even bumpier! Darn you, small bladder.
Sidenote: The difference in terrain from the High Atlas Mountains, to the Anti-Atlas, to the beginning of the Sahara to 2 hours into the Sahara is crazy. Two-way paved roads (that are really only one way unless another car is coming) quickly transition to a 1 lane road with two cars playing chicken, and a dark, rocky (volcanic) terrain changed to sand much quicker than you’d expect.
Camels we’re waiting for us upon our arrival at the desert camp, so after dropping off bags and having Ibrahim tie up our scarves, we saddled up to catch the sunset from the top of a dune! I was at the back of the line of camels, and I don’t know what they had for lunch, but I can now say from experience that camel farts are quite unpleasant.
We were all very happy to see a pot of mint tea (a staple in the Moroccan diet) waiting for us upon our return – once the sun began to set the temperature started dropping drastically. We also got a second serving of soup with dinner – the full bowls made good hand warmers.
I should mention at this point that while the majority of my pre-trip research has been on point, there are apparently multiple ‘Erg Chigaga Desert Camps” and we were not in fact staying at the fancy one with fireplaces, hot water bottles to warm the bed, or toilets in each tent. (This also meant I would not be able to ask anyone to draw me a bath. Drat.) There were in fact zero sources of heat anywhere in the camp, so when the local Berbers offered to start a fire, we were all more than ready to move to the heat source.
After cracking open a bottle of wine (we really should have bought more than 2…it goes fast between 5 people!) we were joined around the fire by our guide, drivers, and Berber camp staff who all played music, asked us some riddles, and told stories. Well, only our guide spoke English, so he was doing all the talking; other than a game we played that only required you to say “bzz.” Easy enough ?
At one point a stray/lost/Sahara dog showed up next to me at the fire, and of course I began petting him without a second thought (much to the concern of Ibrahim and most others in our group.) The dog was so friendly though, and 3/4 of him ended up on my lap at one point; he just wanted to stay warm! (Really not exaggerating how cold it was, guys.)
Eventually we ran out of firewood, and as awesome as the sky looked (more stars than I’ve ever seen…and the moon was oriented in a really weird way) – it was time to hit the hay. With SO many layers on. Bra, tshirt, long sleeve shirt #1, long sleeve shirt #2, Patagonia fleece, Berber jacket, head scarf, regular scarf, 2 pairs of leggings, a pair of jeans, and 2 pairs of socks. And 5 heavy blankets on the bed. I’m really not sure how the 5 other girls managed, because I was still cold and had another body for warmth!