Out of the Desert

Woken up at 6:30 am, the sunrise time. It’s so strange to see everything lighting up after that absolute darkness of the night. The camels still grumbling, but now I can see their contours, and the hills, and the patterns of the dunes, clearer and clearer. The sky sort of stretched out, throwing on a couple of white puffy scraps that turned from dark orange to yellow, and then to pinkish white.
I climbed out of the tent and up the dunes, the sand still night cold. I watched and watched, forgetting to blink, just like yesterday, until there was only one star left in the sky, and then it vanished into the cold morning blue. The chef of the berber group that hosted us came by smiling and told us to hurry to the breakfast (“yalla, yalla!”). I quickly got some tea – stronger than last night, good morning tea – and some bread with camel butter, and hurried back to the dunes to see the circle of the sun getting up the cliff. It was a desert all around, but not this endless sea of sand that they show in the movies; it was Sahara, but only the beginning of it, shielded from the storms and winds by the circle of cliffs. But you could see that behind the cliff from where the sun was rising laid a path to that very land – dangerous and tantalizing.
Our hosts were saddling the camels; everyone busy and businesslike. The camels were making the sounds that could make any film’s giants and dragons and monsters jealous, this low, loud, creepy sound. Yes, the fairytale was over, and the book of 1001 closed and returned to the dusty shelf.
I strapped my backpack to the saddle and climbed on my camel – the same one as yesterday, with his hunch bent to the right (that gave me a few bruises for sure), and decided to try an old way, putting my legs on the same side in a manner women used to ride a few centuries back. It let me relax a bit and straighten my back; after a while, when the caravan started, I felt confident enough to leave just one hand on the handle, and then get my camera out and start filming. The image was way smoother than the day before.
The sun was rising, higher and higher, and despite the early hour its rays started to burn. The camel trip was much shorter than last night, and we had many hours of driving back ahead.
But today we definitely took a shorter road, and made fewer stops. Still it was hot, and the route was tiring. I was drifting in and out of sleep, and we all were extremely happy when the mountains were over, because only then the driver turned on the A/C.
We made it to the Casablanca-bound train on time – it’s loud, and already late, but at least it looks more comfortable than the previous one.
I was glad to get out of the city. We basically traveled through the whole country, almost making it to the Algerian border.
Today we drove by the red cliffs, and the oasis’, and the strange thin silver trees, and a bunch of jerboas, and on and on and on.
It was an unexpected journey for sure, but I liked it. And now my spoilt soul yearns for a shower and a good night’s sleep.

I like trains. Sometimes I hate them with all my heart, but today I like trains, despite the fact that Moroccan trains are never on time. I like that here in Morocco the train is a place to make friends and have honest talks with absolutely random people. Today we met a girl who’s a student (commerce) in Marrakech; an elderly lady who lives there and loves it a lot (she says, best climate, no pollution, good for health); a lady in her forties, accounting and finance specialist, who came to Marrakech for just an hour to buy a lamp for her living room (and spoke great English). Every conversation, in gestures, poor French from our side and some English from their, lead to exchanging the contacts. It’s really interesting to talk to people, fighting through the language barrier. The last lady we talked to said we were very brave to travel on our own, and praised the modern women for being curious and willing to study and do something for the world. She said Moroccan men didn’t want to do shit and work, and that’s why few started families as early as in the past. And women headed to universities. It was a great conversation. By the way, I asked her where she was buying henna and argan oil; she said – only from the relatives! Because at the market you never know what the quality of the product really is. She said, in Morocco you never go to buy things at the market if you have relatives or friends who do the trade. And if you can’t find any, then you probably¬†just don’t need them much enough.
The train is still chilling in the middle of nowhere – it just keeps making these random stops.
The lamp lady left, wishing us good luck. “I wish you to be able to change this world”, – she said.

0:37 am
Damn, we freaked out a lot – almost thought that we missed our stop or got into the wrong couch. But no, made it to Casa Voyager at last, four and a half hours later. Whoever was this asshole on Wikitravel who said that it takes 2 hours on the train to get to Marrakech from Casablanca was wrong. We all were so tired and hungry and desperate to get back to the ship that none of the taxi drivers were able to make us pay more than 60DH for 6 people (which is about $7) – still overpriced, but at least not three times. They all want your money so much that sometimes they would stop bargaining and walk away, hoping to catch bigger fish. It’s tiring, to bargain and stuff. Really tiring.
Here at last. The shower was a blast. Now it’s time to do a favor to my stomach, and then to my whole organism. So not getting up till lunch tomorrow. Gosh, my whole body is so sore. Wait, what. Cicadas heard from deck 3?!

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