Day two in the desert.
After the first day in the desert, I had already fallen in love with the surrounding area and the lifestyle of the nomadic people. However, the moment had come that I was most excited for and that I had been looking forward to since I knew I was coming along on the trip with Gutsy Women Travel.
The camel ride over the dunes of the Sahara.
After driving a few miles in our 4×4 Toyotas, we were introduced to our camels. We were asked to call them “dromedaries” in order to differentiate them from their eastern cousins. We also learned that they were all male and that they did not name them on purpose. However, I christened my camel—dromedary—Leonard, and we hit the dunes.
Riding a dromedary is a lot like riding a horse. You learn to go with the movements of the animal as it carries you and to lean forward while going up the dunes and back when going down. While riding the dromedary as everything I had been anticipating and more, the real special moment was seeing the women I had grown to admire over the past few days cheer each other on and encourage each other. Even those who were convinced that they could not climb up were proven wrong—with a little coaxing, everyone was able to ride their dromedaries.
Laughing all the way up and down the dunes and making friends with our dromedary companions, I was ready to go another hour or so. However, we had other experiences to enjoy in the desert, and we kissed our dromedaries goodbye (they’re very hairy) before heading to a small village not too far away.
We were invited to tour a pre-school where the children sang to us and we handed out items that our fellow women travelers had collected from the United States. I loved seeing how excited they were to learn and show us their numbers and colors.
Once we had waved goodbye to the children, we headed across the street for a special musical performance. Originating as a type of music by the slaves taken from southern Africa to serve in Morocco, the music was impossible not to dance to. We all got up and started dancing to the rhythm of the drums, meant to put the dancer into a trance.
You would think that we would have had enough for one day, but I was ready to climb some dunes once we got back to camp. Following our desert guide, Rashid, out into the sea of sand, five of us began the climb to the top of the highest dune in the region.
However, we weren’t counting on the wind to pick up and the sand to start to sting our faces and any exposed skin. I was glad Noury had taught me to tie a turban a few days ago so I could block the sand flying around me from my mouth. Melissa had the brilliant idea to climb on our hands and knees, and again I was so impressed by how we women urged each other to finish the climb. In the way that only women can, we managed to create a sense of camaraderie—without the cheering of my fellow climbers, I’m not sure I would have made it alone.
Tired, sandy, and ready for a hot shower, we headed back to camp just as the sun set. Although we were tired, we knew one of the most colorful parts of the trip was soon to come—we were headed toward Marrakesh.
Have you ever traveled with a group of women who made your trip worthwhile?