Tuesday, March 27, 2012

For Camels Only

Scheduled in the middle of our 10 day Moroccan tour was a trip to the sand dunes. We rented 4x4s and drove 30 km out into the dessert right up to the base of some serious dunes. Waiting there, a dozen camels sat. The option was ours, should we walk or would we like to ride the camels. I could barely hold in my excitement, in my mind there was only ONE option – CAMELS!

We were each assigned a guide and a camel, I was hoisted up on the camels back and held on for dear life as the camel stood up, they are not super graceful those guys. My feet dangled and my voice giggled as we rode the camels around the dunes, higher and higher. I was certain someone had to be filming me for the Mummy 4 as I rode across the Sahara dessert in search of some hidden artifact. My camel shadow bobbed along side me as I attempted to photograph every inch we traveled.

We arrived at the base of a large sand dune and the camel sat down on his knees to let me off. Camels are really tall and if you’re not careful getting down you’ll still land on your face in the sand...so I've heard. My guide reached out for my hand and directed me up towards the top of the dune. It was just a short 5 meters up, no big deal, I mean the 80 yr old in our group was already half way up. I took my first step and gasped as I found myself waist high in sand. My guide was pulling my arm straight out of its socket asking if I was ‘ok, good’. Yeah, yeah I’m real good, just got off on the wrong foot, no biggy.

New tactic, I’d just move my legs faster. Surely if I picked up my feet at twice the speed there wouldn’t be any time to sink into the sand. Like that Incredibles kids running on water. Wrong. I ended up digging myself a little pit in the sand and was now prepared to die there. My guide starred at me and smiled, “ok, good, go”. I pulled my sand filled shoes up only to go 3 feet backward. Now all my breath was gone, there was only sandair in my lungs. It was like doggy paddling in the middle of the ocean, only instead it was sand and camels were smirking at me. I yelled at my quads and demand they step up. It was the work out of their life. It was sheer determination now as I huffed and screamed my way up that sand pit of despair…and by that I mean, I whined as my guide dragged me all the way up with his raw Moroccan sandman strength.

Finally, I was there, the top of the world! I crumbled down on the blanket desperate to catch my breath and watched the sun dip below the dunes. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced and I quickly forgot about the near sand death experience.

Just as I was plotting throwing my body over the dune to make it to the bottom, my guide turned me around on the blanket, grabbed the corner and dragged me all the way down. Weee! A true Saharan roller coaster! We hopped back on our camels and rode off into the sunset…where he then guided my camel and I off alone to sell me fossils he claimed he carved out of the earth just yesterday. I walked away when he wasn’t looking, but I felt bad. After all, he did drag my limp body up a sliding mount Everest. Eh, what can I say, I’m a spoiled American and I totally got to ride a real camel.

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