After Midelt we arrived at Merzouga in the late afternoon. We spent an hour freshening up and sitting all together with Mint tea in the hotel that our backpacks were to be stored in for the night and then preceded to pack smaller overnight bags with essentials & a sleeping bag. Not long after we were designated our camels whilst awaiting our guides to lead us through the stunning dunes and to our camp where we were to spend the night.
I have ridden camels before whilst living in Cyprus so I am used to the awkward holding on tight as the camel stands up or descends back to the floor but never ridden across desert dunes! It really gives your thighs and solar plexus a good work out because you kind of have to move with the camel. Going down hill of a huge dune was both exhilarating & a little scary because the sand is so fine and the camel with your weight is a reasonable amount it is bound to be a clumsy and slippy experience! No one fell off though, hurray! Going to the Sahara during this time of year (Early March) is a good time to go if you have sensitive skin and find hot climates difficult. Early March is a cooler climate, still warm but you can comfortably handle the heat, I’d still wear sun lotion though to protect your skin from UV rays because lets be practical here, you would be riding a camel in the Sahara Desert!
Jon has always wanted to see the Sahara, ever since he was a little boy and marveled at the vast, majestic and never ending sands on a David Attenburough documentary he assumed he would never visit such a far away place that seemed isolated from civilization yet full of wonderful animals & plants that thrived there. I am really glad he was able to visit this place for his 30th Birthday, it must have been a special moment and those memories will stay with him for the rest of his life. For me it was about spending time with the Bedouins. I love meeting Nomads, Gypsies, wandering sages, wise vagabonds and tribal communities as I relate to them in someway, maybe it’s the wild woman in my heart and the Romany blood that pumps ferociously through my veins that connects me to these people and their way of life? To be honest I was slightly annoyed I had to wear my jeans in the desert, I mean how can a sensuous Gypsy girl connect with the magic of the Sahara in my dungaree jeans? I wanted to wear my Indian skirts and play with my silk veils but that wasn’t practical, oh well, maybe next time?
Our guides stopped our camels at this huge dune, which we climbed so that we could see our camp from above as the sun was setting and the stars were brightening. That climb nearly killed me, my mouth was parched and every time I took a step, the sand gave way under my feet so it felt like it took forever to eventually get to the top. Getting down to the camp was hilarious watching our group descend by rolling, sitting, gliding, being pulled down or shuffling through the sand and was a wonderfully happy memory. When we all finally made it to the camp it wasn’t long before a refreshing mint tea was being served with a gigantic Tagine feast! I felt so honored & blessed I was experiencing all of this! After our meal the Bedouins took us to a campfire where we sat and listened to them sing with their drums, we were all blanketed by the stars and sand that stretched for miles and surrounded by laughter & creativity. I fell in love with that moment. This is what is to be a HUMAN BEING, this is what it feels like to really appreciate life! Who cares about material possessions and the superficial consumerist culture? I certainly don’t and never have, especially whilst having this incredible experience, means more to me than money and owning a flashy car.
We woke up early the next day as we had to be back at the hotel before the midday sun which is too hot to be walking around in, no one wants heat stroke or sun burn! Jon decided not to ride back on a camel, instead he opted to walk so that he could take some landscape photography of the Saharan Dunes and also take some snaps of us all on our camels. This gave me the opportunity to chat to other members of the group who I perhaps didn’t know very well. In front of me were Mike & Jeanie and Ken & Joann. Two retired couples from America who are so adventurous & witty I loved spending time with them all. We talked about family & careers. Jeanie asked me what my dreams were, I said “I have many, to travel more, meet a dolphin, maybe run my own workshops but I’ll probably utilize my skills to sort of be Jon’s creative assistant for his photography business.” Jeanie replied “I disagree Katie, you are a strong and interesting young woman, you’ll forge your own path, I can tell, believe me.” These were words I needed to hear, they arrived in my life right at the time when I was on the verge of making big decisions for when I go back to the UK. I am really thankful to Jeanie for being one of the individuals who gave me courage to be pro-active and strive for my dreams. In fact everyone in our group left a positive impression on me, all of them were proactive and spirited and all of them were encouraging and supportive, wanting the best for each other to be happy and lead an enriching life. It is not every day you stumble upon one person who is naturally positive and energetic, let alone 16 of them! This was a wonderful group of people and I am really fortunate to have met them all.
The Sahara is clearly a very magical place that is both feral and hauntingly peaceful. Midelt opened my heart but the desert cleared my mind and I felt a restlessness in my soul, like I knew the old me was disappearing and a new me was finally being set free and I was listening to a wild voice inside of me telling me “Go follow your dreams, go achieve your greatness, go and enjoy your life.” and I am doing just that.
I will go back there one day. In fact I am in discussion with my best friend to take her to Morocco for this retreat: Desert Dance Healing in a couple of years time and I can’t wait for that day.
Next Moroccan destination our group ventures to is Todra Gorge. Stay Tuned!
If you missed my other Moroccan Blog posts you can view them here:
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis
Day Five: Fes
Day Six: Midelt