Authored by Heather Halpern
Morocco is one of those dreamy destinations that pull you in with vivid images of colorful souks, exotic culture and a diverse geography.
It has always been high on my list of places to visit, and once I was there it did not disappoint! From the fabulous shopping stalls in a maze of ancient medinas, to the strange sight of goats perched high in trees munching on argon seeds, this is a place which will captivate and amaze, and there is truly so much to see and do.
Though being an experienced traveler doesn’t guarantee a flawless experience every time. Even though we travel to the far corners of the earth alone and return home in one piece, this doesn’t mean we always walk away unscathed. I invite you to hold my hand and join me in a few of my Moroccan mishaps into the Sahara Desert!
Moroccan Mishaps in the Sahara Desert
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Destination: Merzouga – This is a ten hour drive from the magical, yet chaotic town of Fes. As we started on our drive, the heavens decided to open up and we were caught in a complete downpour.
We were driving in a standard minivan that definitely did not have off-roading capabilities. The vehicle handled most of the roads pretty well, but when it poured as hard as it was I definitely questioned its capabilities of getting us to the next stop in one piece. The roads were literally being washed away but our driver ‘white knuckled’ it and continued driving!
At one point we came across a bridge that was completely submerged by the river. The river was moving quite fast and all the cars were stopped on either side…there was nowhere to go. There was discussion as to whether we would go back to Fes, though you could tell that our driver was determined to get us through.
As we parked at a standstill for quite some time one van decided to plow through. We held our breath because it seriously looked like the van was going to be swept away. Alas, it made it across the bridge. Seeing this success, our driver inched forward…and as we crept toward our imminent death one of the Aussie’s in the back started screaming and pleading to stop.
We closed our eyes and held our breath, and when we got to the other side still in one piece we all let out a roar of gratitude. A few hours later we almost became part of another near road accident. We drove through a heard of sheep and I could have sworn we were mere inches from hitting at least one of these fluffy animals. These poor sheep almost became kebabs right in front of my very eyes!
Almost a Sahara Statistic …
After all the stress and commotion of this very long drive we found ourselves in the middle of the desert. At around 6 pm we packed ourselves up and mounted our trusty camels. My camel seemed a bit clumsy right from the very beginning.
I am not sure if any of you have been on the back of camel, but it’s a long way down to the ground. Camels are tall. Very tall! My camel kept tripping so I knew that I had to hold on tight!
The Sahara Desert is a spitting image of your Windows screen saver – sweeping sand and absolutely gorgeous!! Though the massive dunes make the desert steep and difficult to cross. At one point my clumsy camel named Gunther almost made me a Sahara statistic.
I wasn’t prepared like the others who brought a trusty backpack. Instead I had to carry all my things in a tiny, yet cheaply made fabric purse. Carrying a 1L water bottle in this bag, I decided to tie it around the handles of my saddle. As I was marveling at the fact that I was riding a camel in the middle of the desert I was quickly jolted back to reality when the purse strap broke, which caused the water bottle to fall to the ground… and at that point caused poor Gunther to trip over it!
In an instant the next thing I knew I was being thrown over the camel’s shoulder. I envisioned myself getting trampled by Gunther and I sure wasn’t up for a Moroccan hospital stay so I held on for dear life by wrapping my arms and legs around his neck. Here I was hanging upside down like a puppet from this poor camel! I guess all that gymnastics training as a kid did serve some purpose!!
This One Time … at Bedouin Camp
We made our way to the heart of the desert where a Bedouin camp awaited us. We were treated to traditional music and delicious food, and when our eyes couldn’t watch the stars twinkle any longer we settled down in a tent for the night.
When we closed our eyes, it seemed like we would have a sound slumber, but as you know things don’t always go according to plan. The wind picked up throughout the night which eventually led to rain, and then an extreme downpour.
The Sahara rarely sees rain. How lucky we felt to experience this rarity! The tents we were sleeping in were built to withstand the wind, however apparently rain is not something it can fight. As I slept, one drip turned into two, which then became a constant pour, and before long it was raining inside and my bedding was completely drenched!
After moving to a relatively dry part of the tent I finally fell fast asleep only to dream about what other Moroccan adventures lay ahead.
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