Wild Young Minds: The Magic of Morocco: part 1

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Magic of Morocco: part 1

7 days in Marrakech, we had been told that that would've been too long. No way, we thought. How on earth could that be possible? My iPhone weather app forecasted 22 degrees and sun, we had lots of Moroccan bargains on our wishlist and we wanted to taste so much of the Islamic culture. So a week, would it be that long? Eventually, it turned out our friends were right. Marrakech is beautiful, but also overwhelming and kind of tiring. Besides, the city is quite small and after a couple of days you've seen most of it. A shame? Not at all. Because we booked two trips in our hostel that proved to be magnificent. Magnificent Morocco, yes.

The first trip was a three-day trip to the Sahara. We actually already discussed riding on camels in the desert before we left, though more in a joking kind of way. We, the two most chaotic and clumsy girls of Amsterdam, on a camel in the desert. Think of all the things we could lose in the sand, think of our limited experience riding horses or whatsoever (and then suddenly a camel?) But of course we desperately wanted to take the opportunity when it was presented to us, so we booked the trip, which included transport in a mini-van, two overnight stays (one in a hotel and one in a tent in the desert), two times breakfast and two times dinner. We traveled with a Moroccan bus driver Mohammed (one of the five Mohammeds we met!) and a group of travelers from all over the world: Brazil, Germany, France, England, Australia, Poland, Spain, etc. The ages were varied and, as always, we didn't like everyone, but overall, the dynamics in the group were good.

What I loved most about this trip to the Sahara were the landscapes. Our driver stopped several times, for which I am still very grateful, to give us the opportunity to take photos. Because really, the landscapes were a-ma-zing. Once again I realized that Holland is such a dull, lame and grey country. You can say we're rich in money, but when it comes to nature: hell no. Whereas in Morocco, the landscapes are breathtaking. The first hour you see eternal snow on the mountains in the Atlas Mountain Range, the next hour beautiful dark red/pink coloured berber villages (where they also filmed many films, like Lawrence of Arabia, The Prince of Persia, Gladiator and even some episodes of Game of Thrones) and later on landscapes which made me think of America: the Grand Canyon and Route 66. On our way, we also stopped to meet inhabitants of the small villages who all produce their own food, make their own carpets (how I wanted to buy one! But oh the prices! And oh the weight!) and spend their days seeing tourists and drinking berber whiskey (which is tea, unfortunately).

At the end of our second day, we finally arrived at the border of the desert, where 11 camels were waiting for us, ready to bring us to our camps in the middle of the Sahara. Riding the camels was a crazy experience, they walk really slow but when they walk down the sand - there were small sand hills everywhere - it's pretty shaky and you really have to be careful not to drop your phone or camera. After half an hour we arrived in the camp, where we spent the first half hour to run up the hills and enjoy the astonishing sights. It soon became dark and cold, so we went to the tents, which were isolated quite well. The only problem was that there were only 2 lights so we were forced to stay in the main tent and socialize... No kidding, it was a lot of fun. We played games, ate a delicious Tajine (Moroccan dish with potatoes, vegetables and this one was with chicken) and made some music. Like all other evenings, we went to bed early cause we had to wake up at an insane point of time. In the middle of the night I woke up, only to realize life in the wild can be pretty hard. I was extremely cold, especially my feet, I was hungry, I was irritated by the two guys in the tent who kept on snoring and I had no light - cause my phone was dead. It was then that I realized things could only get better and after a while I fell asleep again.

The next morning we went back to the living world on our camels, while the sun set. It was an amazing view, though unfortunately we had the sun in our backs. The third day of the trip was filled with travelling and since I'm not used to sitting in a car for more than 3 hours (my parents never took me to France when I was young, we always went by plane or train - where you can move your feet whenever you like...) I had a hard time. Luckily I had some great books with me, among which 'Desolation Angels' by Kerouac, so I survived anyways.

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