A trip to the us opens Zalina Mohd Som’s eyes to its extensive beauty. “You are coming with me,” says the person standing simply an arm’s reach from me, pulling my hand towards his camel without watching for my solution. I can’t tell whether he’s joking or serious, for the tail of his vibrant orange turban covers his face, exposing his deep, darkish brown eyes. And those eyes share no clue by any means. Everything took place pretty rapidly. We had got down from our 4×4 automobiles after a 45-minute force from our 4-star inn inside the nearby town of Erfoud when the drivers of our cars signaled to the group of Berber men to return nearer.
By the look of it, those guys, the indigenous people of Morocco, were expecting our arrival. With their unswerving camels sitting next to them, they seem prepared to take us somewhere. It’s every other hour or so earlier than the sun comes down. But the sun is someplace hiding at the back of the thick clouds. The sturdy wind brings the temperature much lower than the same old late afternoon weather in the wilderness. As I 1/2-heartedly let the person pull my hand, I search, attempting to find assistance, possibly more for approval. But all and sundry are busy with their very own factor. Luckily, my eyes meet a pair of looking eyes. “If I don’t return, please look for this man.” I cry for help from Aberrahim Spokane, the coping director of Morocco, who has been with us since we landed in Casablanca 4 days ago. He laughs while signaling to me to go searching. I oblige. They all look the same, all in blue deer (a loose traditional Moroccan robe) and turbans that cowl everything except their eyes. And I snort.
AT HER MERCY
When our four-wheel force prompted into Merzouga — a small city in the Moroccan aspect of the Sahara Desert, from the lengthy, immediately tarmac road, I ought to already sense something “amiss”.” The convoy of four-wheel drives did now not forestall to reduce the air stress in their tires — a practice I skilled in on a wilderness safari tour in Qatar some years ago. But as a substitute, the vehicles drove straight beforehand, going similarly from the town into the desolate tract earlier than preventing at a cluster of tents to the waiting group of Berber men and their camels.
I predicted to revel in the thrills as our 4×4 vehicle went up and down the dunes and on the perimeters of the dunes at excessive speed — the very motive I’d requested to sit down on the co-pilot seat so that I could get top pictures of the complete journey. But they’re simply the transfer between Oubetweenge and Merzouga and vice versa. Those camels are transported to Erg Chebbi, a sizeable expanse of Sahara dunes. “We will visit the best dune to see the sundown,” says Muhammad, the Berber man, as he enables me to hop on his camel, “and that is Jimmy Hendrix.” Jimmy obliges while Muhammad tells him to arise in a language I can hardly ever make out. It’s not Arab, no longer English either. Perhaps it’s the language best understood by understoodimmythosehalantly straightens his rear legs, my top frame is driven forward. If not for Muhammad’s short sale, I could fall face-down in the barren region. Soft and pleasant as it can be, taking place in the wilderness face-down isn’t how I need to begin my wasteland experience. But while Jimmy the camel is all on its four legs, I subsequently manage to find my balance and an at-ease position. Then, while everybody in my institution of 21 members is prepared, the journey is going in one long line of a human-and-camel chain. We cheer and have a good time as our rides unhurriedly take us deeper into the Sahara. Up and down, down and up. Not long after we started moving, I turned back to see how far we’d passed.
I can not see the tents. All around us are golden sands that form the rolling dunes. The wind is getting more potent, blowing great sand on our faces. I can surely hear a tick-tick sound coming from my sunshades! Now, I apprehend why those guys cowl their faces. In the middle of nowhere, with the sunlight fading earlier than predicted, the acute sound of the blowing wind and the hissing sound of the transferring sands no longer sound interesting to my ears. What if the strong wind adjustments the landscape, and our Berber courses cannot discover the way back to the tents and the expected vehicles? And if we’re lost, can we have enough water and food until rescue comes? Suddenly, my throat feels so dry!
Before my mind could wander some distance, our ride stopped in a flat region surrounded by towering dunes. So that is where we climb up the dune to peer the sundown? Muhammad quickly instructs Jimmy to decrease his frame so I can get down. Jimmy obligingly sits on his stomach and watches Muhammad drag me close to the dune. Yes, drag-mountaineering up free sand on such an incline is not easy.
Looking up, I can see excellent sands being blown far from the sharp ridge of the dune at each sweep of the wind. But Muhammad keeps walking. Well, I guess this is nothing to him. When we subsequently attain the top, Muhammad spreads a thick rug for me to sit down, dealing with the alternative side of the dune. Behind me, my tour pals slowly scale the dune with the assistance of their Berber courses. “No, no. Sand is not top for the camera. Keep it, preserve it!” instructs Muhammad, even as I blockade the sandy wind from my digital camera. Just as I zip my bag, a sturdy gust of wind comes with what seems like a bucket of sand thrown at me!
We sit at the top of the dune like little kids with no issues about the sand and the unforgiving climate, expecting a mind-blowing Sahara sundown. But no, it isn’t. It is a meek solar ball at the back of the thick cloud. Nevertheless, this short three-hour excursion in the Sahara leaves us smiling cheek to cheek during our days in Morocco. An institution of happy camel trekkers.
IN THE BUCKET LIST
The sundown camel trekking in the Sahara was not on my Moroccan bucket list. But its global-well-known Jamaa Al-fans rectangular and the neighboring Grand Bazaar Marrakesh, its tannery in Fez, and the blue town of Chefchaouen are. I ticked off the old medina of Marrakesh on the second day of the ten-day Discover Morocco Tour, even though the rectangular and grand bazaar best got here in on the latter part of the day. The day kicked off with a go-to to Menara Gardens — a botanical garden established within the twelfth century, and Bahia Palace — a palace that has a stark similarity with the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, though on a smaller scale and the Mosque of Koutoubia, the united states of America’s biggest mosque.