I can remember back to a day in middle school when it was time for our science lesson. The topic of the day “Ecosystems,” and we learned just how diverse the world was outside of the plains of Ohio. We talked about the rainforest, the mountains, the swamplands, and even the desert. This hot and dry stretch of land with massive sand dunes was always the most fascinating to me. The idea of one day travelling to a desert never entered my mind. It was always mythical to me from the start. I would watch the old Bob Hope and Bing Crosby classic Road to Morocco and see the two make their way over sand dunes in the Sahara. I never thought that, one day, I too would ride off into the sunset on a camel!
In the months before coming to Morocco, I knew I had to visit the Sahara, but I had no clue who I would make these magical memories with. I was lucky enough to go with Sam, one of my best friends that I have met on the program from North Carolina, and Alae, one of the most amazing Moroccans I have met thus far. These two gentlemen and I took a 12 hour trip from Rabat to the desert town of Merzouga in the South East of Morocco. After arriving, we made our way to the town center to buy our desert attire. One of the most important things we needed was the blue Saharan scarf. This not only made us look fabulous, but protect us from the sand rays and the sand.
Towards the late afternoon, we prepared to embark on our journey to our campsite two hours into the desert by camel. Our guide, Brahim, helped us each onto our camels. I was nervous at first, but after getting on the camel, the only thing I could feel was pain! As a public service announcement, when riding a camel, bring cushion! After reaching out campsite, we were able to sand board down the dunes, watch the sunset, and play the drums under the stars. We even woke up early enough to watch the sunrise over the mountain boarder between Morocco and Algeria.
The ride back home to Rabat after our stay in Merzouga gave me time to reflect on how many different things this beautiful and unique country has to offer. I have spent most of my semester in the capital city surrounded by concrete and taxis. The fast paced life of Rabat made me appreciate the simplicity of the Sahara that much more. Now, as I am writing my final blog post in country, I have come upon the realization that even if I lived in Morocco for the rest of my life, I could never fully embrace the diversity and complexity of this wondrous and enchanting land. In the coming weeks, as I take my final exams and come to grips with the fact I must soon return home, I hope to hold on to these memories for the rest of my life!