My only regret about Morocco is that I will not see it again for the next few years, since I have been twice already. During both my travels I felt welcome, I met friendly people and I found a modern and developing country.
Among the memories I cherish in my heart there are for sure the two days I spent in the Sahara desert, a place where you can live a unique, unforgettable experience.
March 2013, third day in Morocco. We leave Ourzazate and head towards Merzouga through the Drahaa Valley, in the Erg Chebbi desert. The journey is an endless series of landscapes that follow the long and beautiful oasis. The scenery is preparing us for the remoteness we will face, a place which had its people living for years struggling and fighting for survival, and still nowadays challenges the men with difficult hardships.
While travelling we exchange little gestures of help and solidarity with the local people, like handing over a bottle of water to someone on the street. The people we encounter are nomads, sometimes we spot theirs tends. They spend their days shepherding their animals or retrieving small fossils to sell them to the tourists. It’s 4 pm when we leave the main road and go off road.
We stop the jeep in the middle of the desert and, excited, admire from far the Sahara’s red dunes. I walk in this moon-like landscape listening the the sound of the stones. Me too I look for something on the ground. Like the local kids I collect some stones and a shell. Not a fossil, really a shell! Yes, in this place once lived the fishes.
On the next day we head towards the village of Rissani. Entering you can feel the atmosphere of a lively place: buildings under construction and streets still to pave, mules and bicycles roaming among the cars, kids playing. Everything gets more intense towards the city centre. Today is a market day and we will have a taste of everyday life in Morocco. The stands are lined up on the street, men and women of every age are mixed with any sort of vegetables among carts pulled by children or animals.
Back to the riad we rode our camels. We are going to the tents on the dunes, we will see sunset and dawn, we will eat a sleep in a camp.
We move through the dunes, on a changing desert shifting from black to yellow in a few meters. We cross the oasis close to the village where the kids hide to play. We enjoy quietly the amazing landscape, step by step more red and more mesmerizing.
When we arrive at the tents everyone decides to experience the sunset the way he prefers. Someone struggles to climb a dune. I prefer not to move much and stop half the dune. Silently, I stroke the sand with hands and feet. I open eyes and ears to what surrounds me. The sky is becoming bright blue. The only light of the camp – powered by solar panels – offers us the necessary visibility for dinner. The stars sparkle vigorously above our heads, highlighted by the darkness.
At five o’clock the first lights shine on our faces: another show to enjoy before leaving. The dunes emerge slowly from obscurity and so do the tracks of the animals living here at night. We take comfort in this light while it becomes more and more warm and charming.
We get out of the black desert and continue towards a plain where an underground stream – almost dry by now – fuels some wells. We stop beside a Berber tent and the men show us how they work while us down the stream. The tent is almost empty: just a few pillows and carpets. A few branches hold the rugs used as roof.
Finally, it’s time to leave. The landscape changes while we get further and further. We are going back to our life and our comforts, but our minds still journeys in the experience we just had, among the sights and the people who made me feel such incredible emotions.
My tour guide in Morocco was Radoin, a young local tour operator who I have the pleasure to consider my friend – www.radoin-saharaexpeditions.com.
In Merzouga we stayed at Hotel Riad Mamouch – www.riadmamouche.com.