Morocco to Madrid 8.1: Erg Chebbi Sunset

So I started writing this entry a bit before we left for the trip, and I’m leaving the unedited version of what I wrote to give you an idea of where my head space was at before I hoped on a camel.

Here it is.

So my body pulled a Mean Girls on me this afternoon and said “Stop trying to make a nap happen.  It’s not going to happen.”  Instead, planned a bit more ahead for the trip, swam, sat by the pool, all while trying to relax before next dune experience.

As we got ready to go, I realized that I missed a major opportunity by not buying a red headscarf to go with my Superman T-Shirt I’m wearing today (I mean COME ON!!!), but I figured I’d give the traditional headscarf a try, because it’s not cultural appropriation if it’s functional and the locals want you to do it, right?  Camels ended up coming a bit later than originally advertised due to the heat, but soon enough, onwards and upwards to the dunes!

Now, had I waited until after our camel ride this evening, I would have started it thusly.

At least we didn’t get hit by the lightning.

Yeah, so the whole “sunset in the desert” thing was kinda crashed by a freak rainstorm/thunderstorm/sandstorm combination.  Daina saw the clouds forming at the start of our trek and was wondering if being the tallest thing in the desert (as he put it, “a water bag sitting on top of a sand dune”) was a smart idea.  My whole thought was that, if it was dangerous, the guide (who is pretty much a professional nomad) would turn us back, plus the lightning wasn’t forking, so that meant it wouldn’t hit ground.  We kept going, and then the rain came.  Not too bad, but enough to get us both a bit wet.

We soldiered on.

Once we got on top of the dunes, the scenery was breathtaking, even though the sun was mostly covered by all the clouds out there.  What was also breathtaking, but also a bit scary, was that we could actually see the sand coming through the sky towards us.  Not in an all enveloping, block out the sky type way, but kind of like how you would see an oil slick move through water.  The sand and the air were separate, but they definitely weren’t mixed.

Then, it was on us. Lots of rain, thunder heard overhead, and sand, sand, sand, blowing our way.  My scarf – the not-Superman Red one, which didn’t matter anyway at this point – came undone from my head, so my ears and back of my head were getting blasted by sand.   I tried sliding down the dune to get some cover, but couldn’t find the right spot until our guide managed to get to me and put Daina and I next to the camels, covering us with the heavy camel blankets, thus shielding us from the elements.

The whole thing went on for about ten minutes before it started to clear up, and even then, there was some intermittent rain.  Our guide asked us if we wanted to go back, and at that point, I was ready, but Daina suggested we wait five more minutes.  Glad he did, because we were able to take in some of the sunset as it peeked through the clouds, and I made it back on top of the dunes for one last shot.

Then, it was back on some very grumpy camels (one of which, mine, also had some major stomach upset, which Daina had a first-hand view of) to the SUV that Hassan (our morning guide) was driving, before heading back to the guesthouse for some delicious and much needed dinner.

So, the relaxing sunset was anything else, but it was still awesome.

I mean, how many people can say that;
a) They were caught in the rain in the Sahara.
b) They were caught in a sandstorm in the Sahara.
C) They were caught in both at the same time.

I have no idea where to put the question mark in the situation, but that also seems like the least important thing right now.

Anyway, got a whole new respect for the desert after this evening.  Not a place where you want to mess around.

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