The Camels had been released out of their paddocks. Such huge lovely graceful animals that we had been watching out of our bedroom window that morning, and apparently emotional too – Is that an emotion we leave to the humans and camels have it too!
This was going to be fun. Me on a camel – I laugh to myself. Well here I was only this morning stood outside the Kasbah as my eyes watering a little as I found a need to keep repeating out loud to myself where no one was around –“ I’m in the desert, I’m really in the desert, I really am!!!!!!!” – reaffirming what I already knew was true felt like a dream but not a dream just my reality that I had created for myself – a hidden dream that was actually happening – it certainly felt so like an illusion – A vision I had created within my 3rd eye and yet I was fully conscious as I watched the lucid events unfold before me –
I was on a camel and I was being taken along the sand dunes by a real nomad who ran up and down the sand dunes as he took photos of the group he was leading with ease like there was no exertion or effort on his part. This effort for us, was a doddle to them having spent their lives leading a nomadic trade life and here they found life so much easier where they just looked after the animals and their tourists to earn them a more profitable living to feed their families and give them better solid homes. At least I was feeling a little better about the tourist situation – that because of us their life became easier and they seemed to love it, intergrating with the tourists making their adventures and dreams a reality.
I was in the desert on a camel travelling through the Dunes – I was still repeating my mantra in disbelief. There was such calmness and magic in the air as the Dunes just rolled from one to another, creating valleys and peaks as the winds formed a truly natural magnificent vision of red golden sands forming the landscape before our eyes, creating a peace within, where there was just a bonding with nature. Just a feeling of being, as the camels gracefully strolled through their path, strong, balanced, aware, no thought of slipping and falling. As I looked down and got a bout of vertigo at one point as the drop down of the dune was steep and the path etched by previous camels walking was only as wide as its feet width. However I knew I was safe putting all my trust in the beautiful animal that had now taken control of my destiny for the next hour.
The sun was setting, the camels got a well-earned rest from their human load as we were now learning how to dismount them camel, and we could stretch our legs as we watched the sun lower itself below the horizon to bring a new day somewhere else.
The air now became a little cooler and the colours began to change in the sky as deeper shadows out lined the sand-dunes. As we now mounted the huge graceful animals more confidently a second time, we watched the dusk settle in, taking in the breath taking views of formations of tons of sand, as we were carried deeper into the desert. Though the sun had set – we were still not cold though we had been warned it might be. The desert was now wrapped in near darkness and our camp was no-where in sight, as we were helped off our camels and made the rest of the journey by foot in the little light there still was in the sky.
And there it was – in the semi darkness, shadows, of what we knew was to be our place of rest for the night. The sky had now darkened, there was just a little crescent moon and the stars began to appear – our route down into the valley of the dune was lit with torches and lamps as we were being guided to out warm cosy tents.
And they were so cosy and welcoming. The ground covered in colourful native blankets, the walls and roof of the tent were draped thick carpet type material which made the space inside warm and cosy, we already decided that there was probably not going to be a need for our thermals. The heavy woollen blankets on the beds reminding me of my childhood, affirming me that I would be warm.
I was really here. Sand without the sea seemed really strange and as the foreign tourists enjoyed the camel rides into the desert in autumn winter and spring, in high summer months there is an invasion of Moroccans into the area to heal their aches and pains especially rheumatism as they are buried in burning sand up to their necks until their body got used to the heat, where the process is repeated 3 times for a number of days alleviating their ailment. One thing that does sadden me is that modern living seems to be destroying and forgetting a lot of old knowledge of their time. The snake skin witch doctors are poo pooed in Moulay, Fez and the more modern cities for their healing methods but surely there must be some ancient shamanism that I have not yet found.
Now well fed Berber/Moroccan style with traditional Harira (bean) soup, tagine and a glass of wine to toast our adventure and there we are scrambling to the top of a cooling sand dune, laughing and giggling as the sand started disappearing under our feet, finally laying on our backs outstretched enjoying the warm desert breeze as it stirred the grains of sand and warmed our bodies that were already beginning to feel the chill of the night air. Those stars – the milky way decorating the ceiling of our universe as we know it – eyes reaching as far as they can watching the stars precariously hanging as it would seem, in the sky, no fear of falling just suspended adorning the sky with jewels of brightness and every now and then I squeal as another shooting star shoots passes in the glimpse of my eye, leaving me wondering if I actually did see something, as my intuition affirms what I have just seen time and time again. Watching the constellations , working them out and watching them move across the sky was more challenging than in our light polluted skies as with so many stars it was difficult to make them out. So wondrous to watch its expansiveness and its infiniteness when you put into perspective as to how many stars must be behind those that we could now make out.
It would have been so easy to fall asleep under the blanket of stars but the chill of the air just reminded us that it was probably better to move indoors into the warmth inviting comfort of the nomad tent, knowing full well that an early 5.30 morning call was awaiting us to watch the sunrise as we descended back to Merzouga where our 4×4 would be waiting to drive us back to Fez before finding our way home. I wake in the middle of the night the blankets keep me warm, not wanting to move and yet there is a temptation a draw to watch those stars again before they hid behind of the light of day. I couldn’t resist – I knew it to be safe but still those in-bread fears clouded my brain making sure there were no scorpions in my shoes I ventured out once more to marvel and gaze at such a precious moment, feasting my eyes on the millions of diamonds twinkling in the sky.
The tour, the experience and the amazing guides were more than what we could have imagined possible. A private tour booked at the last minute ended up being a real adventure we had not allowed ourselves to get too excited about as we did not know if it would be happening – we would never have received the care attention and the way we were exposed to information of this magical land without our 2 special guides Ali and Mohammed – how blessed we were to have a part of this amazing adventure.