Erg Chebbi

camels in desert silhouette

A lazy day in anticipation of our foray into the desert world. It feels like we’re about to step through the Looking Glass. It was market day in Rissani, so four of us (two guides, two Canadian guests) went to have a look. We enjoyed it. It was smaller and somewhat less furious certainly than the markets in Marrakech or Fes, and easier to just look around. It did help, though, to have the two Moroccan men there to run interference. The goods ran the gamut of household goods, clothing, and fresh vegetables, spices, and food of all descriptions. Sylvie and I both wanted to buy some fresh dates, but even the smallest box was more than each of us wanted, so with the help of the guys, we got the vendor to split the box in two for us. Yum!

We brought back another medfouna (“stuffed pizza”) for lunch. Thanks to the later breakfast, I didn’t have quite the appetite for it as I did yesterday, but it was still delicious! It was unanimous: we were fully justified in spending the rest of the afternoon lounging around the pool!

Finally, 5:30 arrived. I think we were quite happy to learn that the camel ride in would only take an hour, as it was still really very warm. I ended up on the lead camel. Getting up is quite the experience, as it’s one end at a time – back end first. HANG ON — le-ean back… oop! Then le-ean forward… And there you are!

It may not be like stepping through the Looking Glass, but for me, it really was like passing through some kind of interface. As a group, we left behind any trepidation we might have had about the camel ride itself, and we began to attune ourselves to the new world around us. I had the sense of moving deeper into quiet and softness. Voices became more muffled, the soft shuffling of feet and hooves accentuated, their rhythm taking over my consciousness like a heartbeat.

Morocco tours

So this is the desert!

We arrive at the nomad tent encampment cradled in the dunes. After we deposit our few belongings in our tent, we have time to “explore” before dinner. We crawl up this dune, then that… the sand is clean, soft, still warm.

Later after dinner, we crawl up again. We can hear the faint clattering of dinner dishes being put away, other travellers slipping into their tents. The darkness is complete, save for the spray of stars that seem to dust our noses, lips, and eyelids.

This IS the desert!

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