Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Great Sahara

I have just returned from a weekend trip to the Sahara Desert where after an 11 hour ride both ways landed us on camels to camp under the stars in the desert. This was by far one of the coolest things I have ever been able to do. We were escorted by our great guide, "Hamza", who narrated our ride through the towns we passed and were able to stop at; even stay the night Friday, midway through the drive at a mountain hotel. To get to the Sahara from Rabat we had to drive through the Middle Atlas Mountains, where at one point we were over 7000 ft. above sea level (Comparison to ASU Campus: 3,330 ft approx.). It got chilly to say the least.
It is hard to describe all that happened this weekend because the desert is a place you are truly in awe of. Riding camels is a neat experience in itself but especially when you ride in during the sunset and ride out the next morning as the sun rises. Sadly my camera battery died Saturday night after we arrived at our "campsite", which was incredibly nice. We were accompanied by some men from a Berber tribe who played drums and sang to us around the campfire after dinner as well as take care of the camels, etc. Once the sun died off it became a little chilly but not cold enough to keep me and a few others from choosing to sleep outside of the tents in order to stare at the stars while we dozed off. The amount of stars you could see was truly unreal, even if it could be captured on a camera, it still wouldn't do it justice. I found myself staring at the sky, completely engulfed in the amazement above me. That alone was worth the 22 hours of travel in the two and a half days. The ride home today was long but eventful when we stopped again along the Atlas Mountains to see and feed the Barbary Apes, a monkey indigenous to those mountains as well as areas like Gibraltar. They look a lot like the arctic monkeys who live in hot springs but these guys survive on just about anything including bark off of the trees. I wish I had a picture to show you but I suppose you will have to take my word for it since I couldn't sneak one back on the van.
It is wild to think I have been here a week, the time seems to have passed slowly because of everything I have been able to experience and learn. I hope all is well wherever you may be.


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