Morocco. It’s been almost two days since we left from Marrakesh. And here we are… still on the road.
On the right side, there’s a small window and through it, like a movie, there’s a lot of landscapes lined up in the shades of red land/ground. My ears are filled with the sound of “Africa” from Ismael Lo, Senegalese singer’s song.
We’re heading to the desert. To the greatest desert there is: Sahara.
Looking through the small window, I see a kid. He’s playing with a water gun. Playing with water in the desert. How ironic.
Is this a sign for rain (in Romanian we have a saying for this “will this make it rain?”)? We’re almost on the verge of Sahara, we’re dizzy from the very long road and we standing lined up in a queue so Abdul can arrange scarfes on our heads, berberian style, scarfes that will protect us from the sand, the wind and the burning sun.
We’re waiting one more hour because the plan is to be on the camels at sunset and live the African experience just like they promised us in the photos. We’re going to sleep in the desert tonight, in berberian tents. And we’ll be up at sunrise and cross the desert on the camels, again.
Abdul is a berber himself and he quit all the modern clothing for the specific traditional clothes. We’re sitting in the shadows now and we’re drinking berberian tea – it’s based on green tea and sugar. We’re in Sahara, a place where the only things that matter are water and food. The bare necessities.
We’re back on the road. Riding the camels to the next destination takes about 90 minutes. And we are being asked to choose very carefully the luggage that we are going to take with us because our camels are going to carry our luggage as well.
From the modern world, where we all need so many accessories, clothes and lots of other material THINGS – right to the middle of the desert. I am trying to be as efficient as I can be so I left a half-full suitcase at the desert’s edge. It has my ironing machine in it as well. Next, we are going up, it’s the second time I am riding a camel.
It’s all about relaxation. If we are relaxed and peaceful, the camel will feel the same. So the caravan started. We are climbing up the dunes, oh yes, we’re going on the highest dunes around. I would so love to take photos but I would risk disturbing the perfect balance that’s been created so carefully by our guides. The light dims and the day ends with one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, the sky had a peaceful shade of red. It’s hard to think of red as peaceful but this was the perfect shade. Oh my God, life is so beautiful! We are there. I took with me some Romanian sweets so I am very glad to share them with the others. We’re going to sleep at “hotel California” – that is in the berberian tents that are so beautifully aranged for us. The dark sets more and more and swallows every piece of light around.
One of the berberians asks me what’s my name and he starts writing something in Arabian on the sand. Under the writing – which was my name – he draws a kid’s sole. I don’t understand anything from this. So he explains to me that the sole represents Africa and every finger is one of the “white” states: Morocco, Alger, Tunis, Libia and Egypt. After a few seconds I can feel raindrops falling gently on my right shoulder. How lucky are we to feel rain in the desert!? The image of the kid playing with the water gun comes to my mind. Maybe it really was a sign. It is raining.
Most of the people around go in the tents. Me and Daniel stay behind and help collecting the little rugs that we were staying on before. It rains slowly, we’re seating on a pile of sand and just enjoy the moment. So I ask the berberian how old is he. He says he doesn’t know. His parents were nomads so they didn’t record his birth. And like him, there are many others. But he thinks he is 26. That is what he feels like. It only takes a few seconds of looking at his face to see the wrinkles that could tell the truth about his age – he may be older. But living in the burning sun for so many years, it’s hard to tell what, who or how many years hide underneath those beautiful eyes. So it’s better to just choose a number and live with that.
Rain stops. The tourists come out of the tents. And soon there’s singing and dancing. The beautiful life goes on under the moonlight that is shining bright over the biggest dune around and under the stars that reveal themselves pretty shy. This is heaven.
Randomly, we form a group that goes walking through the desert. I find myself being one of them, right next to Houssein, a berberian guide with some remarkable physical features. He asks if I want us to be first ones that get up on peak, on the highest dune. I laugh to myself, he has no idea that he’s asking that question to someone who would rather give her final exam in philosophy rather than sports because she always failed at sports in school. But I don’t say no. He takes my hand and we start running to the peak.
My heart is literally burning. Running through the sand feels heavier and harder than anything. We’re up on the dune but surprise, there’s a bigger on in front of us. So on and so forth, this game could go on forever. So we stop and we sit on the sand. For the first time in my life, it was worth it being in the first running line. Thank you, Houssein! It was worth it waiting 32 years for this moment. He tells me he does this everyday.
I enjoy the sand with my bare feet. Most of the berberians don’t have any papers or IDs. Still, they have no need to travel because the whole world comes to see them every year, every month, every day. Sometimes it’s like that. They’re travelling through other people’s stories, through the tourists eyes. And of course, they all have a Facebook profile. We’re going on the road again. It’s much easier to go down on the sand, hmmm.
Just like in everyday life, it’s hard to go up but you can easily go down.