One of my biggest dreams when it comes to traveling was to see the desert. Everytime I was thinking about it, pictures of Sahara were running through my mind making me imagine how would it be like to walk in the hot sand, to get thirsty in the heat of the sun and to be surrounded only by yellow dunes. My dream came true and I had the opportunity to visit Sahara when I was in Morocco.
It wasn’t in my plan to do it in that moment but me and my friends heard about a trip and we decided in the last minute to go. I have to admit it wasn’t the best organized excursion and I couldn’t enjoy the experience as I imagined it in the last years, but at least I got to spend some time wandering around the ergs while feeling the fine sand slip into my shoes.
We left Fès around 12 a.m. and had a few stops during the way. Because it was night I couldn’t enjoy the lanscapes we were passing by but when we were getting closer to the south of the country I noticed something so beautiful that it might stay in my mind forever: big stars which were closer to the Earth than I have ever seen before. If you live in a big city then you probably understand my enthusiasm about this because as you know usually we see just a few stars or not at all because of the pollution in urban areas. At 7 a.m. we arrived in Errachidia, a city in the southeast of the country, which was quiet and almost empty. Errachidia, whose former name was Ksar Souk, was named My Rashid, in tribute to the son of the founder of the Alaouite dynasty, the current Moroccan royal family, and it is considered to be one of the most historically important regions of Morocco.
In this region we visited other cities as well, both on our way to Merzouga and back. The architecture of these cities is amazing, is something I have never seen before. Since ancient times, the berbers who live in these regions are known for their use of earth or mud brick called pisé. In english it is known as rammed earth and it is a method that has been revived recently as a sustainable building material. Other cities and places that we visited on our way are Ain Ben El meski, Erfoud, Errisani and Zaida. These cites are amazing and they look so different from the cities around Fès. Most of the inhabitans have berber roots so I was amazed by the mix of cultures. Also here I tasted and bought the best dates (date palm’s fruits) and here I had the chance to see the first oasis in my life. While visiting all these places I had a sentiment of inner peace and gratitude and I was thankful every second for being able to see such beauty all around me. I still treasure those moments and I am looking forward for the moment when I will be able to live this experience again.
Going from one city to another I couldn’t help myself thinking if that is how the desert looks in this area and I even started to feel a little bit upset that I won’t be able to see the dunes that I dreamt so much of. Before reaching Merzouga the desert wasn’t as I thought it would be: mostly the landscape was marked by arid and gritty soils, from place to place with brown sand, then at some point I saw the black desert called so after the dark, almost black stones covering the ground. My worries have been shattered later that afternoon when we reached Merzouga. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were the yellow dunes I dreamt of, there was the desert laying it’s infinity in front of my eyes. My dream, finally, became true.
We had reservations at a small hotel so we went to our rooms and took a shower which washed away all the sweat and dirt from spending the night before and most of the day in bus and from walking through the streets of the cities we visited under the burning sun. After that we finally went to take a walk in the desert. While I was walking in the yellow, fine sand I couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky I was to finally be able to cut that wish off from my bucket list and one second later I realised that I was truly happy. I really felt that genuine hapinness when it seems like nothing would be able to spoil your mood. I laughed, I walked, I ran, I jumped, I fell and I got up, I spent the moment at full intensity. Then I realised that losing your sense of orientation and getting lost in the desert are easier to happen that it seems: when we looked back we realised we are on almost the opposite part from which we started, even though we felt like we walked in a straight-line. After around one hour of wandering around the dunes, a sand storm started and we were forced to go back to the accommodation place. I was lucky that I had my sun glasses and my blue twareg scarf so I didn’t have problems with the sand entering my eyes, mouth and ears.
In the evening the hosts offered us tajine, a traditional moroccan dish and then we spent the night listening to live music played by some moroccan travelers. Even though we had rooms reserved in the hotel, me and my friends talked with the host to give us a tent because we wanted to sleep outside in order to see the stars. We slept in the tent but because of the sand storm and because it was cloudy we couldn’t see the stars. Also we wanted to see the sunrise but we were very tired and we couldn’t wake up in time. In the morning my hair and mouth were full of sand but I think it was worth it.
After waking up we spent a couple of hours more to admire the desert and to enjoy our breakfast in peace. After that everyone was ready to leave and return to Fès. I still remember staying on a pillow, drinking a cold Coca-Cola and admiring how Sahara was revealing it’s grace under the gentle rays of the sun. I left the desert with my heart full of joy and with promising to myself that I will return there again and I will properly enjoy the experience.