I think it’s becoming fairly obvious that deserts give me earworms. I am serious; they are real. It first happened in the Sahara in Egypt when “Midnight at the Oasis” played in my head on a continuous loop for days. (See “Earworms and Bedouins,” May 2018.) At least this time, it’s a much nicer song than Maria Muldaur’s absurd 1970-something tune. This time, I kept humming that old Eagles’ tune that I think is really entitled something like “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” I am pretty sure we had that album on vinyl many years ago.
Anyway, we left Fes on Friday morning and made the very long trek south to the desert. We drove for what seemed like hours through the Middle Atlas Mountains, making a few pit stops and one lunch stop. At the last pit stop, we were walking around the van stretching our legs when we noticed how dusty and dirty the van had become on the drive. I talked Abdul into writing “wash me” on the back window in Arabic. Tofik, our driver, came around back and just hooted with laughter. Obviously, it was a really long drive and we were all easily amused.
Finally, we met up with the driver who would take us to the desert camp. He drove a short while on a paved road, breaking occasionally for herds of camels or goats in the road, but soon veered off the road and surfed the desert dunes. It was obvious that he knew very well how to drive in the shifting sands. Before long, we were at the Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp. Our bags were taken to our tent and we were whisked to our dromedaries (camels). Daylight was burning and we needed to get up to the ridge to see the sun dip below the horizon. An adorable ten year old boy introduced himself to us. Hassan was our camel boy for the evening and helped us climb aboard our rides and led our little entourage out into the sand dunes. Soon we dismounted and climbed higher to the ridge where we watched as the sun set the sky aglow with beautiful shades of gold, pink, and red. Hassan took pictures of us and when we asked to take one of him, he spread his arms wide and exclaimed, “Africa!” There were shouts from a nearby ridge and we looked up to see a couple dozen people also enjoying the sunset. Hassan looked over at them, then back at us and said, “China.” We knew then that a group of Chinese tourists would be sharing the encampment with us for the night. There was also a group of four Americans at the camp.
We rode our dromedaries back to the camp just in time to have a drink with our guide before dinner. There was a roaring fire and it felt good as darkness brought a precipitous drop in the temperature. Our evening meal was served in a big tent with each group having their own table. The food was wonderful and the evening was perfect. After dinner, the men serving us announced that there would be a music show. We stayed for a few songs; the Chinese group was in full blown party mode so that was fun to watch for a while, but we decided to take a couple of chairs out into the desert and look at the night sky. The Milky Way was phenomenal and we saw the biggest, brightest shooting star we have ever seen. I could swear I saw red and gold streaks across the sky on the tail of that falling star, but Rick attributes that to the incredible Moroccan wine. Truly, as the song goes, there were “a billion stars all around.” Before long, the cold night air chased us into our cozy tent for the night.
We had no intention of missing our sunrise camel ride, so we were up early and ready to get back on the ridge at 7:15 yesterday morning. Hassan was again our camel boy and we basically repeated our routine from the night before. It was astoundingly quiet and beautiful to watch the sun come up and create a dazzling morning sky. It was truly awesome. When we returned to camp, I mused that it seemed like we were in the Gobi instead of the Sahara. There was so much Chinese chatter as that group gathered their things and posed for a few dozen more selfies with the staff before they jumped in their four wheel drive vehicles and sped off into the morning to parts unknown to us. We enjoyed a lovely quiet breakfast under the morning sun, but then it was our turn to gather our belongings and return to civilization.
We drove the better part of the day Saturday and ended up last night in the oasis town of Skoura in a lovely kasbah called Les Jardins de Skoura. We climbed to the terrace to watch the sun to set for the night and explored the magnificent gardens. There is no doubt that Marie and Thierry have built a dream resort here. The grounds and suites are unbelievable and the staff is in a league of their own. Dinner was incredible. It is beyond me how we pulled ourselves away this morning to cross the High Atlas Mountains and continue on to Marrakech today; somehow that’s exactly what we did. But last evening, we just savored the twilight of another perfect day in magical Morocco.