(this post is out of sequence and should appear after the Mezouga posts)
On Monday afternoon we set off into the desert with Mohamed one of the hotel staff in a 4 by 4. After driving for half an hour over sand and stones we arrived at our Berber tent village. Our tent made of camel fur blankets was really cozy with a double bed covered in woven red Berber blankets. We walked over to the large main tent which had benches all around it covered in a myriad of colours of Berber blankets and wall hangings in reds, oranges, yellows blues, turquoises, and every colour of the rainbow. Many had sequins as part of the decoration. The roof was a vibrant royal blue fabric again with sequins. It was like stepping in to Ali Baba’s tent with all the brass lights lighting up all the colours.
We watched out of the tent flap and over the horizon we caught the first glimpse of our camels.
The camels sit down and it’s time to climb on for our trip to watch the sunset. We very quickly leave the stony desert and we’re into the endless dunes. We are led by a beautiful young man who guides Seamus’ camel while my camel's lead is attached to the tail of Seamus' camel. My camel, Bob Marley has it in for Seamus’ camel and gives him a good bite in his haunch. After that his mouth was tied up. We carried on into the desert with dunes as far as the eye could see. It is a really mystical experience. You really have to hang on to your camel as you go down the steep dunes otherwise you could be flying over his head. The farther we went it became more and more windy. I was very glad that Mohammed had fashioned my scarf into a Berber headdress so I didn’t get mouthfuls of sand. Finally, we stopped, got off the camels and climbed a dune to watch the sunset. Looking off into the distance we saw a nomad camel train and nothing but endless dunes. Meanwhile the wind picked up and the sand really started swirling at which point we decided to return to our village to watch the sun set there.
This all sounds terribly exciting but as we got back to the camels, which were in a dip in the sand, our boy pulls out from his messenger bag these marble type souvenirs to buy. I felt like I was in an Agatha Christie novel lost in the desert. Of course you have no choice but to bargain for something as you wouldn’t want to be stranded out there with nothing but miles and miles of dunes facing you. We made our purchase and it was back on the camels travelling over higher and higher dunes and the sand swirling everywhere. Back at the tents we watched the sun set over the dunes with a riot of oranges and mauves surrounding it.
By dinner time it had cooled down quite a bit but there were gas heaters in the tent that kept it quite warm. As we started to eat our chicken tajine we were joined by four other people who came from Toronto. They were going on the camels to see the sunrise. Before going off to our tent we admired the stars. There were so many and they were so bright, a spectacle we are not used to in the city.
After dinner it was off to our tent and off to sleep. It was all very cozy inside but every so often you could hear the sand blowing on to the tent and the sound of the camels talking to each other. In the very cold morning we got up early to see the sunrise have breakfast and then we returned to the hotel. A quick shower was very welcome as we had sand everywhere. Once cleaned up we were ready for our day’s trip to Skoura.