this post is originally from May 21, 2011
Since the last email, we have covered a lot of ground…
On one of the days we had a ten hour drive. It started out with heavy rains, which wreaked some havoc on the roads. Some were being literally washed out! At one point we came across a bridge that was completely submerged by the river. The river was moving really fast and all the cars were stopped on either side…there was nowhere to go. After sitting 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, our driver inched forward…as we crept forward one of the Aussie’s were screaming from the back that we couldn’t cross because this is how people died in the Queensland floods. Clearly our driver didn’t listen to her as he just drove on through. We made it safely and I think everyone was thanking their lucky stars. Another near road accident was when we driving through a heard of sheep. This one poor sheep almost became a kebab that night!
After all that stress and commotion 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. Camel’s are tall. Very tall! My camel kept tripping so I knew that I had to hold on tight! The Sahara Desert is exactly what you see on your Windows screen saver – gorgeous!! There are massive sand dunes which makes it steep and difficult to cross. At one point my clumsy camel named Gunther almost made me a Sahara statistic. You see I was carrying a 1L water bottle in my cheap fabric bag and my bag was tied on to the handle of the saddle. We were walking walking along and I was just thinking how amazing it was that I was riding on the back of a camel in the Sahara Desert when my stupid bag strap broke, which dropped the water bottle, 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 me getting stepped on by Gunther and I really didn’t feel like a Moroccan hospital stay so instead I hung on to his neck with my super strong thighs. I wrapped my arms and thighs around Gunther’s neck and was hanging there like a puppet. I guess all that gymnastics training did come in handy as I can perform camel circus tricks now! I didn’t walk away completely unscathed – I cut my hand up pretty bad. But don’t worry, I am traveling with the right friend on this trip. Heather is a physiotherapist, and she has come stock piled with all sorts of medical supplies.
We made our way to the heart of the desert where a Bedouin camp awaited us. By this time it was getting really windy and sand had basically entered every orifice. Question…have you ever tried pissing in the desert? It truly is a feat! Sleeping through the night was also quite the experience! The wind picked up and eventually this lead to rain, and then an extreme downpour. The Sahara rarely sees rain, but we obviously got to experience this rarity! The tents we were sleeping in can withstand the wind but apparently rain is not something it can fight: As I slept one drip turned into two…which then became a constant pour and soon my bedding was drenched! After moving to a relatively dry part of the tent I finally fell fast asleep.
Yesterday we drove from the Sahara Desert to the Todgha Gorge. The Todgha Gorge is a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains. Both the Todgha and neighboring Dades Rivers have carved out canyons. The last 600 metress of the gorge are the most spectacular. The canyon narrows to sheer flat rock walls that stand up to 160 metres tall on either side! The hotel that we stayed in was situated right in between the gorge! It was incredible!
Morocco is absolutely stunning. By driving I am able to see the countryside and it truly is remarkable how quickly the topography changes from lush green, to desert, to mountain ranges…unbelievable!