Back in the buses, back on the road, into the desert. Another 8 hours towards the village of Erfoud (the area in the movie Babel, which we ironically watched on the bus. Ironic because Cate Blanchett gets shot in a coach bus in the same desert.), with minimal pit stops and maximum numbness of the gluteus maximus.
Although the ride was 8 hours through a supposedly desolate desert, my eyes were glued to the scenery and not to the TV. It’s hard to imagine that the impossibly puny, isolated villages that we passed could be self-sustaining, which they must be, being so far from anything and everything. Sometimes we would pass a lonely wanderer, at least 30 km from the next sign of life along the highway, just hiking alongside the road. Stick your thumb out, dude.
Watching the sun go down over the increasingly sandy and decreasingly inhabited desert was stunning. Equally as stunning as taking an hour 4×4 ride across the rocky desert and sand dunes to reach our campsite, where we were greeted by glowing tents, flickering Moroccan lanterns, and a thumping drum circle. We grabbed a tent, grabbed some grub, and laid under the blindingly bright stars. I’ve never seen, and don’t think I ever will see for quite some time, such lucidly glowing stars, or ooed and aahed at so many shooting stars. Then we hit the hay (I’m actually fairly certain that’s what our sleeping mats were made of) to get a few hours of shut-eye before waking up at dawn to watch the sun rise.We arrived at camp so late that first night, then woke up so early the next morning, that we didn’t really have a grasp of where we were beyond the reach of the little lanterns lining the perimeter of camp. Thus, the first glimpses of the endless sand dunes surrounding us were under the light of the rising sun. How’s that for dramatic effect?
And then after the sun had risen above the horizon, the nice man that had been guiding us through the dunes and telling us the history about the surrounding area, Abrahim, set down and opened his knapsack. “Oh crap,” we thought, more coercion into buying trinkets that we don’t want or need. As grateful as I was for Abrahim’s guidance through that treacherous powdery soft sand, we initially thought it was out of hospitality that the local Berbers were guiding small groups of us. BEEP wrong. Although his shiny rocks were pretty, I don’t think Mom is really into soap dishes comprised of deep sea shell fossils. So after a perfect morning just wandering the dunes and watching the sun rise, we had to persistently turn down his insistence that Grandma would just love a fossilized fish. Sorry, Grams.
Sunset, sunrise, then onto those gallantly galloping camels…it’s a tough life…