Kasbah in the
September 9, 2007
All of a sudden I am missing the bus rides in South America (okay, with the exception of Bolivia and Ecuador). Gone are the
movies, bathrooms and meal service. Last night I was on the CTM bus that everybody recommends – people have made it
sound extremely comfortable and roomy. Ummm, this was so not the case. The nine hours did go by rather quickly – we only
had one rest stop where we could use a bathroom. Good thing I was dehydrating on the bus in fear I would have to use the
None of this matters as I am now in the Sahara! I woke up a few minutes before the sun was rising to little oases of date palm
trees. These are such happy looking trees. And they look make-believe. But they are as real as they get.
When in our taxi from Rissani to Merzouga, I noticed mountains in the distance. As we approached, I realized I was wrong.
These weren’t mountains – they were the sand dunes!
A Berber then led me and my suitcase 1 km into the desert to get to the Kasbah that I was staying at. I would be lying if I said
the thought crossed my mind that this might not be the best idea. There’s a fine line of trusting people out here – but so far I
have had only good experiences with people being honest with me (more or less, at least).
I was more than impressed that lodging like this exists out in the middle of the desert. I got to take a shower (and can you
believe with hot water?). I ate breakfast in the courtyard. I laid out and swam in the pool. I took a little siesta.
Oh. And I also already received my first ‘bug’ of my trip.
What was the first thing Allah told me before leaving Fes? He told me “Just don’t drink the tea in the desert. The water isn’t
boiled well.” And what was the first thing I did when arriving at my Kasbah? I drank tea with the man who runs this place. But
how could I refuse? That would have been rude. So now the politeness is costing me many trips to the bathroom.
I arranged my camel rides for sunset and sunrise. I also arranged to leave for Marrakech tomorrow night (I’m running out of
time in this country). One glitch though. There is only a ‘local’ bus to Marrakech. Remember my thoughts on the CTM bus?
That was the glamorous way to travel around this country. I have to say I am a bit worried about this. I figure I’ve braved
worse, right? And lots of the people in the world have to experience worse things, right? I can sack it up for 14 or so hours of
my life. At least it will give me three days in Marrakech.
And I better do some sort of prayer that this bug of mine subsides a bit before I head out on this bathroom-less bus…
Life with a pool has been great. I took advantage of it before my camel ride and then again afterwards. An opportunity like this
can’t get passed up!
But the pool doesn’t nearly compare to riding a camel out into the middle of the Erg Chebbi sand dunes in the Sahara Desert…
Ali led me out on my sunset camel ride. Life on camelback was mighty nice. I’m a sucker for some good dunes and I was now
looking out at miles of them. And I was in the Sahara desert. I mean how cool is that?
Once we stopped, we let our camel Jimi (named after Jimi Hendrix) take a break and we walked up some more dunes to watch
the sunset. Beautiful. Stunning. Incredible. Just a few words to describe it. I even dorked out and make sand angels.
We had to leave in order to make it back before it was pitch-black.
When I did get back, I met a girl Beatrice from Mexico. She was a sweetheart and we had a great time hanging out. Once we
were done with dinner (after I experienced a few more stomach episodes), we sat out and stared at the starry sky.
I went back into my room before midnight since I needed to wake up early to see the sunrise. When I was on my bed, I noticed
I had a fellow guest in my room. A mouse. I kind of gasped but surprisingly did not freak out. It did have somewhat of a cute
this-is-the-desert kind of look to it. And he ran right out the door. I looked for any holes that he might have come through but
there were none. It was just through the space in the bottom of the door. Nothing that a towel squeezed underneath there
couldn’t fix. I’ve sure come a long way since college when I called my friend’s boyfriend to come over to remove a cockroach
from our apartment!
September 10, 2007
I don’t think there could have been a better way to start my day…
Even waking up at 4:00am was long forgotten. At 4:30am Ali came to my door. We were ready to head out into the sand dunes
underneath a starry sky.
You have to put a lot of trust into a person who is navigating their way around sand dunes in the absolute pitch-black. But he’s
Ali Ber Ber… I knew he could do it. Since I couldn’t see much in the distance, I spent the majority of the ride looking up at the
sky watching the shooting stars and the Milky Way. I truly could not believe this. It was incredible. There was complete silence
with the exception of the prayer call far in the distance and the camel’s feet hitting the sand.
The sunset ride was great…but this was an entirely different experience.
We stopped in the middle of the desert and we walked to the top of a high dune. Ali sat a bit away from me which I
appreciated. This was not a time for small talk – it was a time to sit in silence and take in what I was seeing.
The stars began to disappear and the sky eventually was lightening up.
I took in the last of the Erg Chebbi sand dunes before it was time to head back to my Kasbah.
My time out here was short…but oh-so-sweet…
A shadow of us in the dunes.
In my camel-riding attire.