Friends, Camels and the Sahara

Thursday, February 26, 2009
Marrakech, Morocco

Sometimes traveling with friends, you can get to know someone a little more than you want. A group of us had been in Marrakech a few days and wanted to go on a camel ride in the Sahara. I worried the glamorous vision I had of riding atop a majestic beast might be less than I imagined. We arrived at the pick-up point at 7 am for our overnight camel trek, sleepy but ready for adventure. Having not really studied a map, we were unaware of the distance of the Sahara from Marrakech so were not prepared for the nine-hour bus ride to our camels (but that is a WHOLE different story).

Upon arrival to the small town from where we were to begin our BIG camel ride; we were escorted to our waiting beasts. My family had lived many years in the Middle East before I was born, and all had told me of the mean temper of our wooly friends. I had prepared myself for semi-hostile creatures that spit. Upon inspection of the pack of creatures it became quite clear of their indifference towards us tourists.

I was instructed to straddle the seated animal and hold on, yes that was the only instruction we got. My great beast or should I say indifferent beast, rose up in one quick movement and we were ready to proceed. Being the type of person that always has something to say (I call it friendly, some call it bossy/overbearing) I immediately felt we should all name our camels for our trek. Unconcerned with the fact that my camel was a boy; I felt a regal name was in order. “Melinda Remington Roundtrees” I blurted out. My group of ever-supportive friends, reactions varied from rolled eyes to “you are ridiculous”.

So our crew of camels, tied together from saddle back of one to bit of the next began our trek across the Sahara.

The beauty of the desert is an amazing thing, the quiet, the colors of the sky and sand can vary much more then one can truly imagine!

After a 90-minute ride, we arrived at home base for the night. Home base consisted of two large tents across from one another and a large open area between. It looked and felt like a fairly permanent base camp. Figuring there must be some sort of outhouse near, I asked the guide where the restrooms were. He grinned and told me to pick a dune.

After an amazing dinner of tagines abounding with chicken and potatoes, we all collapsed in a tent full of mats and blankets. Clay and I commiserated about the seam of jeans rubbing a raw spot on our backsides.

The following morning we departed on camel back returning to out meeting point for yet another 9 hour drive back to Marrakech.

The gift I was given by the 18 hours on a van, sleeping and riding in jeans was a stripe of a cut, raw and bloody from my very lower back down my butt. Clay was also a recipient of such a gift. For the next several days at the hostel in Marrakech we would apply salve to each other’s backsides to the laughter of our roommates.

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