There are special moments on every trip. Times that you never forget, and which you cannot always capture in any cameras. They are moments to just enjoy and savor, like the people I saw in Southern India counting buckets of money. The Overseas AdventureTravel trip Morocco Sahara Odyssey is one of those trips that was filled with these moments.
The day we left for our two days on the Sahara was as rich in travel texture, as the variety of spices on that night’s tagine. We left our desert castle hotel, which was really in the middle of an oasis. Even the swimming pool there looked like it could be a mirage. As we drove through the desert in 4-wheel drive vehicles, it was impossible to know how the drivers could find their way to the camp. Even tire tracks and rocks get blown away by the wind and sandstorms, and we passed one mirage after another…we kept thinking there was water.
The day was rife with human interaction, the kind a traveler never forgets. On the way here, we visited a Berber woman and saw how she lived. She’s married her first cousin thru an arranged marriage. One of her children suffers the consequences of that and is extremely mentally ill. In Morocco, they still hide mentally ill children as a disgrace to the family, even abusing them and chaining them to the room. But this is their tradition and custom, and even future generations will not change It we were told. I wanted to hug that woman and give her money above what our trip leader was giving her. It was wrenching to hear her story.
Once we got settled into a marvelous camp, we drove along the sand dunes to what I kept calling “dromedary central.” The dunes with the packs of camels is stunning. After about five in the afternoon, they let the camels roam free, not tethered to each other for purposes of a group camel ride. I called this “cannel happy hour”, since I could just imagine the freedom they must feel when they can roam freely along the dunes.
In between multiple visits to he dunes, we visited with a man who grows figs and dates, and he showed us his irrigation system, how he pumps his water by hand, and the whole farming effort. He was multi lingual, and I was talking to him in my butchered French and Spanish which I had been practicing on Duo Lingo for months, and for once didn’t get confused between the languages. It was a travel pay off moment. Without the ability to connect in one of his languages, he was an ordinary fig farmer. But by being able to communicate like this, I put my arm on his shoulder and called him mi amigo.
Before we ended for the day, we climbed the Sahara dunes. It was very easy, and people could go as far as they wanted. But we all stopped at the same point and let the wind speak to us. It was a beautiful moment, and for all my travel bravado, one I could have never done myself. We all watched as a solo woman dressed in white, walked across the vast dunes by herself, nothing but the wind-swept Sahara as far as the eyes could see, and packs of camels dotting other parts of the skyline.
We got back to our camp in time for quite a windstorm which is became a thunder storm. But at dinner we all asked about the woman in white walking across the Sahara. Did she get to her destination before the storm, or did she even have one? Just a magnificent day.
Not to be missed is the Sahara just before sunrise. It is magnificent with the golden sand and deep rich shadows which contrast sharply next to the palm trees and bursts of morning sunshine. It looked surreal from my luxurious tent. If there is anyplace else on earth like the Moroccan Sahara and all its mysteries, it, I’d love to know.