We wait, enjoying the crisper morning air, for the sun to lift what seems it’s leaden weight from behind the dunes. As it hangs there and shimmers, I am struck at its size and beauty with no distractions to spoil the view. Just this massive orb, pulsing over the sand bringing life to the day. It was thirty degrees when we arrived by 4×4 to the hotel yesterday and we waited until six pm to head out on the camels. Dromedary just doesn’t have the same ring does it? It was much cooler heading out then and I’d guess it was maybe 25. Hot and dry but comfortable in a singlet. At the last minute I had put my bag back into the room we had been given for storage deciding I didn’t need ‘stuff’ for this overnight trip. I wanted to be uncluttered to enjoy it. What do I really need I ask the boy before we left. Just water actually he told me. I had a large sheer scarf in case of sand blowing in my face, a merino long sleeve for the evening, lip salve, tissues….oh and some painkillers I had slipped in after another trip we did in case we needed them. So very minimalist. No change of clothes or moisterisers!
I needed the merino before dinner as the sun went down and it cooled quickly and putting the scarf around my neck was just enough to be warm as we sat by the fire but only just. I kicked myself for not grabbing my light jacket as Gilbert had but moving with the musics rhythm, and hand clapping with the drum beat kept me fine.
When we went to bed we slept in a room that they can sleep five or six in marae styles. One big bed. The tent is made up of big rugs. Not beautiful ones but serviceable dark coloured. Semi stitched together over wooden pole frames. It was not unlike what we had observed driving through as we saw Bedouin tents from time to time. This was set up in a circle with the campfire in the middle where most of the Bedouin ones were in a line.
The temperature in the Sahara overnight dropped a lot and while I personally hate the weight of those big polar fleece like blankets I was glad of it as I tucked it up to my ears. By early morning when I nipped out to pee it was chilly with a little wind but fine with me still in merino and scarf. The others were shivering and carrying on about the cold in their jackets but I didn’t find it a problem. This is a good time to come. Summer is ridiculously hot for foreigners I was told and when the Moroccan people usually come to do this trip. Winter is their peak and when tourists usually do it as the heat is more bearable but I thought this was pretty perfect. Not too hot or cold for me. They time you coming in early evening after the heat of the day and your leaving early morning before breakfast. By the time we get back to the hotel where the 4×4 is waiting to take us back over the desert to the city it’s pretty damn hot and I can’t even begin to imagine what living out there is like. It must get to fifty. My mouth was continually dry and I kept sipping on the water even as we moved on the camels.
Some with names like Jimi Hendrix and Ali Baba, R & B waits patiently for Gilbert. A rug is thrown over the back part of the seat and you balance on that. I notice the guides are all walking and once up again and making our way home I clench from my teeth to my toes.
I didn’t have a problem with balance on mine but Gilbert did and I understand now lots of people struggle to stay on. From a tourist point of view I’m not sure why they don’t do something about the seats. Maybe it’s actually fine for them, or they like to keep it authentic or aren’t worried about repeat business…and it was a part of the experience that you will never forget. I’m sitting writing this two days later and am still sore. I think if I hadn’t been so sore at the time I would have enjoyed the camels more. There is a problem with how much you ‘westernise’ something to meet the market too. If I’d lifted the blanket up and actually looked to see, I would have packed either side of the bony hump. But I survived and it’s not a big deal in the scheme of the amazingness of it all and if I couldn’t have it unless I had it like that, then I would do it again like that.
The boys asked us to take their picture and put it on facebook and I have obliged. We have got a lot more respectful of people’s privacy as we have traveled and are not so in face taking photos so it was funny to have them ask me to do that. A few of the boys are Sent from my iPad
Most of the boys are wearing the traditional garb with sweat pants, t-shirt, polar fleece or similar jacket zipped up and a long robe thing over the whole lot and then the turban thing on their heads. I can’t really see how this can be cooler but I guess it’s what they are used to. They are actually quite fine boned and I would even call them pretty. They told us there are no girls at the camp. They do all the cooking but when we arrive I am sure one is a girl so beautiful is his features. It’s not until I hear his voice and see him move do I gather he is male. They cannot get over Gilbert’s near nakedness with singlet and light shorts and most comment that he must be strong. Many in this area have come up from Africa over the last couple of hundred years as nomads looking for greener pastures and settled around here. They tell us all the different ones get along well and these boys certainly seem to.
One of the boys dashes to get a bag and spreads out some carved bits to sell on a mat as we get off our camels and try to stand up straight. I feel awful that I really don’t want to buy any of these. Emilie gives him a tip for helping us and I do too. He tries to get me to choose something saying his Father makes them and I tell him I have no room as I only have a small bag and I thank him for his help on the trip. This is the tricky bit and I feel a bit stink as I walk away. The camels are being fed and watered while seats are removed and then let free to roam and forage. I guess they come when they are called?
Here R&B, Jimi….come! Not sure how you call a Camel.