Posted in Excerpts at 11:14 am by admin
Saturday, September 18th is our 7th day of riding. However, we opted for Toyoto 4 by 4 Land Cruisers over the desert roads and sand dunes on the way to our tents. A previous tour took motorcycles part way and even so the motorcycles had trouble with the rough ride on lava rock and staying upright in the soft desert sand. It took us about one hour and a half to reach our destination.
On the way we had some interesting stops. One was to the village of the “Black People.” Here we were entertained with music, dancing, and mint tea by the village men. These were Africans slaves brought here in the early 1900. They intermarried and did not mix with the Moroccan population, and today still live and survive in their separate village, mainly from tourists coming to see them perform. It was interesting to note that we did not see a single women, either in performance or on the village streets.
One more stop was to a high point in the desert where the Moroccan soldiers quartered near a closed mine shaft. This area is about 50Km (30 miles) from the Algerian border, and the function of these soldiers is to monitor the borders and make sure no Algerian crosses over to Morocco. Sound familiar? !!!
Our 4 wheel Land Cruiser took us over sand dunes, gravel pits, dry lakes, and by 5:00 P.M. we arrived at our desert Bivouac (tents). Soon after we mounted camels for the ride to the top of the erg. These dunes are 22 km long (North to South) and 5 km wide. The tallest dune reaches 150 meters (approx. 500 feet high).
The camels took us to the base of one of the tallest dunes, we dismounted and walked up the edge of the dune until we reached the very top. There we sat on the ridge, watched the sun set, and were served champagne. This was surreal and I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not dreaming. Then we rode our camels back to the camp.
The “Black People” came to our camp and provided music while we sat around a camp fire. A Moroccan dinner was served and afterwards, we went to sleep in our tents. At 10:30 the generator was turned off and everything was pitch black, except for a half moon shinning from above. During the night I was surprised at the silence, not a sound was heard, and it was again a mystifying experience. The lack of sound was almost deafening and I had a hard time falling asleep. At 6:00 A.M. the Moroccan camp boss started banging on pans, signaling it was time for us to get up.