Last week my program took all of us to the Sahara desert and it was absolutely wonderful. It took us almost twelve hours to get there, but it was completely worth it. Thursday we got to the beautiful Hotel Xaluca, it is a little outside where the Sahara actually starts. Since it was Thanksgiving I asked my mom to Facetime so I could see some of my extended family. I definitely missed being able to spend Thanksgiving with them since unfortunately, it is one of the only times of the year I get to see them. I was happy that I at least got to see them and they reminded what I have to look forward to when I get home.
Friday morning we set off for our journey to the desert. We drove for about 15 minutes when we stopped in a small town with a mosque and a few shops. We were able to shop a little and then got into smaller cars that would then take us to the desert. On our way to the desert we stopped in a small village to view a Gnaoua music show. The Gnaoua people were once brought to this part of Morocco to then be sold as slaves. When they weren’t sold they stayed in this part of Morocco and made a life for themselves there. This music group travels the world, but always comes back to their family. Their songs have been passed down from generation to generation and they do not write new songs. All the men who performed for us were a part of the same family and I thought that was so cool for a family to be playing the music of their ancestors.
After the Gnaoua music show, we left towards our hotel in Merzouga which is the name of the town that borders the Sahara desert. What was the most fascinating about this drive was that the Sahara desert just starts. Obviously it has to start somewhere, but we were driving and then all of a sudden, there it was. It is so massive, but it really snuck up on us and surprised us.
We then checked into the hotel, had lunch, and relaxed a little bit, but then, we had our camel ride a little deeper into the desert so we could watch the sunset. I think this experience was one of the coolest, if not the coolest, things I have ever done. It was amazing just to sit on top of the camel and look around. The sand dunes were endless, completely breathtaking, and more than I could have ever expected. The pictures I took do not do it justice. It was incredible to see how vast the Sahara is and how far it goes, it was truly remarkable.
Saturday we loaded up the buses and made our way back towards Rabat, we stopped twice to look at the gorgeous views and one stop to play with monkeys. These monkeys just lived off the side of the road and I guess have grown accustomed to people giving them food. I held out an orange to one of the monkeys and it took it right of my hand. After the monkeys we made a few pit stops but then arrived back in Rabat.
I had been feeling homesick recently and this trip to the Sahara reminded me how lucky I am to be here. I still miss home, but I am also so grateful for what Morocco has given me. It has taken my breathe away in the greatest way possible. It has made it difficult to take pictures because I know that the picture in the camera will come nowhere near to the reality that I am facing. Although I am excited to come home, I will aways remember my trip to the Sahara desert.