On our recent trip to Morocco, we spent 17 hours in the Sahara desert and I can't tell this story without describing the journey to get there.
We met up in a small town where we changed from our comfortable roomy sprinter van to a modified Toyota land cruiser that was equipped for driving off road and through dunes. And so we did.... drive off road and through the bumpy desert and dunes. When we got into this desert SUV, our guide, Hisham, was with us but we had a new driver. He didn't speak. Therefore Hisham was quiet and so were we. We drove quite a while down a highway and suddenly our driver took a sharp right turn and drove off road through the Sahara desert. I have to be completely honest, I wasn't sure if I would ever be seen again. We drove past nomads camping in the desert and camels walking about on their own, it truly was like a scene out of star wars.
We passed military tanks training in the distance, apparently they stay prepared for Algeria trying to take over that part of Morocco (I can't remember all of the details). We also learned too that our campsite was close to the border of Algeria. I made the sign of the cross across my chest.
When we finally made it to the campsite we went over one more large dune and there it was.
A campsite with a dining tent and several guest tents all around which are occupied by tourists, like us, year-round.
These are the guest tents, each one uniform.
There were three of us so our tent had three separate beds and it is evident that these tents rarely get moved because there were stucco showers in each bathroom.
As always we were greeted with hot mint tea and almonds and olives.
Don't laugh too hard, I always like to get into costume when I am on an exotic trip but it was freezing and sand was flying throughout the air.
I just let Hisham have fun with me, he brought this wrap to me as a gift because I was in love with all of the indigo scarves we saw at every roadside market. I was grateful because it really did help keep the sand out of my ears, nose, and hair.
Camel ride first, then wine then dinner. FYI, we were informed that all of the sand dunes seen in these photos would not be there in the morning. Apparently the wind is so intense that it moves all of the sand creating new dunes in new locations.
These two men took care of all of us and everything required for our brief stay.
They were the most peaceful, soft spoken, engaging, and helpful people. As I talked with them more I learned that they were both sons of nomadic families.
When the French took control of Morocco, they wanted the nomads to become sedentary because a "sedentary lifestyle was linked to economic activity".
Children of the nomads, like these two men, became entrepreneurial, taking advantage of the commercial opportunities that tourists created. These two never went to school, they spoke close enough to perfect english and learned it all by working in these campsites.
I could tell you so much more so if you are interested, try to find this book, I bought it in Morocco so it isn't easy to find.
We had an amazing dinner served on these beautiful green ceramic dishes.
Then we watched the sun set.
Gazed at the moon.
And woke up early to watch the sun rise.
Stay tuned for our stay in an actual oasis, our drive through the Atlas mountains where we experiences all four seasons, and our final stop in Fez.