Sunday, August 10, 2008

Surfin' Safari

Last night (well ok, last Tuesday cos I wrote this a while ago) we made the trek into the Sahara Desert. I'd been to the desert before in Egypt but this was different again because the desert seems endless. It is bigger than the desert in Australia and crosses through eleven countries. We picked up our camels (I named mine Sabrina) and they walked us the 4kms into the Sahara desert to camp with the Berbers. They are a kind of people that live in the desert. Brahim (our tour guide) recommended that we buy turbans in case of sandstorms - and lucky we bought them because we had a massive sandstorm. I never realised how useful a piece of cotton could be. It was wrapped around our head and then we could let it hang loose if there was no wind and we could then stick the loose bit behind our ear to cover our nose and mouth if it was windy. So useful. I looked like a twat with it on but hey, beats sand in the mouth.

So, I arrive in the desert and find that the W.C is this dodgy swat port-a-loo thing or the option of peeing behind a dune... well, one look at the toilet and swatting in dunes it was for me! It wasn't so bad actually, it was kind of fun and we had to bury the toilet paper in the sand and I have never loved anti-bacterial hand cream so much in my life!

Brahim, our thoughtful tour guide, brought sandboards up to the dunes. We trekked up one of the dunes and I tried sandboarding for the first time. My first go resulted in me going about 2 meters before crashing painfully onto my ass. My determination then kicked in and I had about another nine attempts at sandboarding and by the third go I was pretty balanced and made it down to the bottom with minimal effort.. Bringing the board back up the hill was a task in itself. Snowboarding in Canada, here I come! I loved it. I really think that was one of the highlights of my trip into the desert... Sandboarding!

We headed back to camp (well, I raced another girl down the sand dunes on our sandboards) and a soccer ball was then brought out. By this stage it was dusk so there we were, a group of 10 of us, trying to play soccer with the sun going down. It was pretty crazy and there were a few falls but no major injuries to report and I can happily say that I assisted our team score a goal...

The Sahara is amazing. As we went in it wasn't windy but as we went further in, it's almost like the wind could sense 'intruders' so to speak. It felt like the wind had emotions because it felt so angry and rough. The sand from the dunes whipped my legs and face but when we neared the Berber camp, the wind suddenly died down and there was such a sense of serenity. Because it is constantly windy, the dunes never have footprints in them, they are always there for a while but disappear. It's almost like taunting you saying 'haha I know what the secrets of the desert are but you will never find out because you don't have the power to cover them up'. It was an amazing feeling. The one thing that surprised me and I didn't like was the rubbish that was being chucked around in the air by the wind. There were a few empty water bottles and plastic bags and it makes me sad that even in this country and in such a beautiful place, it can still be tainted.

We ate our Berber dinner of rice and some beef (which I am sure is what gave me my upset stomach for three days!) before listening to some Moroccan music on drums... we slept underneath the stars and woke up early to watch the sun rise.

I totally rate this experience as one of a kind. Definitely a highlight of the trip, even the peeing behind sand dunes.

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