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A Very Berber Birthday! Trip report and travel tales, Spain, Morocco & Lisbon

A Very Berber Birthday! Trip report and travel tales, Spain, Morocco & Lisbon

Feb 10th, 2007, 01:20 PM
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Interesting report. May I ask how did you get interested in Morrocco? Just curious.

Feb 10th, 2007, 01:34 PM
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Thanks u guys. I have so many pix I'm trying to sort them and post in sections with the installments.

Comfy-I work full time as a mosaic artist-have for the past 10 years. I've always wanted to see the tilework in MOrocco-that was my main motivation. I ended up getting a whole lot more. I was only there for 5 1/2 days-certainly not enough to do that country justice. Already planning a trip back. Loved it THAT much!
laartista is offline  
Feb 10th, 2007, 02:31 PM
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Thanks, laartista. Mosaic artist, eh? Very cool. I thought perhaps you had Morroccan ancestors etc.

Two questions: did the guy actually say "walk anywhere in the night"?!, and what's berber?
Feb 10th, 2007, 02:45 PM
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Yes, Comfy he actually did say that- there will be no fluff in this report, just the fun facts. I hope I have this right- The Berbers are the indigenous peoples of Morocco from the Atlas mountains and the deserts. If I'm wrong on that I'm sure someone will correct me.

Robins photos from Majorelle garden and Berber pharmacy

K- I'm the shorter one LOL

laartista is offline  
Feb 10th, 2007, 03:06 PM
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Hi Laartista, thanks for another fab report. I think I asked you on your France report so forgive me if you posted and I didn't see it, but I'd love to see your work if you don't mind sharing it with us. I'm sure it's as wonderful as your writing. I can't wait to hear what you thought of the tile in Portugal.
mvor is offline  
Feb 10th, 2007, 03:46 PM
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Hi mvor thanks- I have posted before, I'll try to find the link-thanks for the interest
laartista is offline  
Feb 10th, 2007, 03:47 PM
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So, We are at La Koutoubia, said to be one of the largest mosques in the western Muslim world. Mosques in Morocco only open to Muslims. So we take a bunch of pictures, say our wows and bee-line for the cafe across the street because it is starting to rain again and I have developed an ear ache that was shooting straight into my neck which would be with me even now. Going to the doc on Monday.

This cafe was packed, alot of tourists, so plenty of other women and we were more comfortable. Robin ordered 2 cafes while I went to the restroom. Imagine my suprise when I saw the porcelin foot pad with a hole in the middle of it and no TP. Back to the table I lean over and ask Robin if she has any tissues, I take them with me. NOw my fabulous purple Sendra boots were not made for this situation with no grip on the soles and I feared I might slip and fall on my ass into the hole in the ground. All very unsettling at the time. When I return, she says " no toilet paper?", I say "no toilet", she says "what do you mean?" I say go see yourself, and she does & takes pictures (we were a bit out of control with the cameras). This was not our favorite part of Morocco, for we would experience many more bathrooms like this and be pining for them when having to pee by a bush in the desert. But the troopers that we are, we handled it like pros.

After our cafe we headed over to the Place Jemaa el-Fna, otherwise known as the big main square in M-kech. Talk about nutty, this place is off the hook! Loud, and smelly and FANTASTICAL! Dozens of food stalls with tables for dining and fruit and nut carts and O.J. carts. Henna tatooists, snake charmers,musicians and monkeys- really craziness, tons of people. I had watched videos on yOUTUBE, read the reports, but nothing can really explain this place so I'll stop trying, you just gotta go there. We walked back and forth on the square with our mouths hanging open. Did we get hassled- a bit but really not bad, nothing we couldn't handle. At one point Robin was videotaping with her camera and a bunch of musicians started hassling her for $$ for taking Pix. I was a few steps in front,turned around and in my best "I'm from NY, don't F**K w/ me face and tone said- Hey! She said she didn't take any- back off! And they did, simple as that. I think the key is not to get intimidated. We found a strong no or La shakaran (sp?) worked fine.

Up and down the aisles of food stalls we walked trying to find a place to eat. definitly wasn't stopping at the ones with the skinned sheepheads on display-ICK! We looked for the most crowded stall figuring that's where the best food would be. All the time the men try to get you to their tables, waving their menus- we thought it was great. We finally sit at a very crowded stall at the end of one of the aisles. Right behind me is the cart with the food and the woman cooking it.

****Side Note***
If you are an animal lover as I am (probably should be a vegetarian) Morocco is a bit rough. There are stray cats everywhere. Most actually looked well fed, they hang around the square. And I saw alot of people including the locals feeding them. Some though look pretty rough and I couldn't help think of my Bear at home. Also those donkeys look so worked that they are about to drop. I know alot of people in that country are very poor nad have awful living situations, I'm just saying for me it was a bit hard with the animals*****

Sorry for the digression. We ordered mixed brouchettes, some kind of salad and a veggie tangine. All very tasty with 2 bottles of water came to about 6-7 US. Bargain! After dinner we walked around a bit more then stopped at a fruit& nut cart to get some treats for our ride the next day. Best dates I ever ate and I don't even like dates. Plus dried apricots, cashews, walnuts and almonds. I think 8 U.S. for 2 huge bags. We caught a taxi back to Le Meridien and dropped in at their bar for a drink. I needed a hot toddy, neck and ear were really hurting. The bar was packed with westerners, mostly Brits and Spaniards on a weekend getaway. Robin and I sat and made list of all the things we wanted from the souks on Tuesday- turned out to be a very long list.

Sleeping that night sucked-our heat didn't work and it would be the first of 3 nights I would need to sleep in my hat.

Photos from above plus view from our room


laartista is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 07:23 AM
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Day 3- Beginning to an incredible experience

We got up really early Sat. am. Omar our camel trekking guide was to pick us up at 8:30 at our hotel. We booked Omar thru cameltrekking.com. Although it was difficult to touch base with him prior to the trip, after many emails we finally western union wired him the equivalent of 500D as a deposit. He turned out to be awesome!

The total cost for the trip was 130 Euro each. That included the 4x 4, gas, kasbah hotel, overnight in the desert with breakfast and dinner and the camel trek. Personally I thought it was a bargain. Lunches and dinner at the kasbah were extra, but inexpensive, more on that later.

We checked out and at about 9:00 Omar showed up. A slight man with a kind smile, we greeted him in the lobby. Outside was waiting the white 4 x 4 that would take us plus 4 others to Merzouga and on an overnight came trip into the desert. Omar introduced us to Hassan, our driver for the next 3 days. Those poor guys had to lift our ridiculously large luggage onto the top of the truck. Two people were already sitting in the 4 x 4. They were a young 20 something couple from London, working in finance.

So I have a few neurosis. Besides fear of flying I also do not like sitting in cramped vehicles. Claustraphobia sets in. Nicola (Nick) and Matt were sitting in the middle row of seats, that meant I was either gonna be in that row or the way back. We still had 2 others to pick up. I kindly asked if I could sit near the window in the middle row and Omar said why not sit in front. I said isn't that your seat and he said he would be meeting us in the desert. It would just be the 6 of us and Hassin for the drive. Psych- shotgun! And that remained MY seat. Robin got in the back with N & M and Omar sat in the last row on the way to pick up the last 2.

We drove to the main square to a riad in the medina where the other 2 were staying. Seems they overslept and were still sleeping and would not be joining us. YET. At the time ,can't say us 4 were upset, meant more room for e1.

This would be a long day, a total of 9 hours driving and sightseeing. The drive would take us over the Atlas mountains to Ait Benhaddou to Quarzazate for lunch to our Kasbah for the night in the Dadas valley.

The drive was spectacular! As we began our drive over the mountains the topography was more green than I would imagine, cacti and red rock, sweeping landscapes. Hassan pulled over for a photo op about an hour in. Another hour and a restroom stop at a small cafe in the mountains with, what do you know, a gift shop attached. It was cold in the mountains, and my ear ache would progressivly get worse, I guess from the altitude- don't know. We all jumped out and I never to pass up a gift shop pop in to look at the fossils for my neighbors kid who is a paleontology freak! After much bargaining with my new friend, who told me a got a good berber deal I walk into the cafe with my fossils and new head scarf( got Robin 1 too). Plus I recieved a bracelet as a gift. Love the gifts. E1 just laughed at me. So we sat and had a tea, took a pee in the hole in the ground LOL and got back into our chariot with Hassan at the helm.

Nick, Matt, Robin and I hit it off famously and also had similiar taste in music. Robin had brought her i-pod speakers and both N & M had their i-pods. We asked Hassan if he would mind a little music- he said no. So for the next days we would have music playing, from U2 to Sublime, it kept us entertained. And whenever Hassan really liked a song he just looked over at me gave a thumbs up and a smile. I even caught him a few times tapping on the steering wheel. Me and Hassan really bonded up there in the front. LOL


laartista is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 07:58 AM
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Wow! I'm really enjoying ur report and pics. Dh and I are trying to decide on a trip. We're going to Spain and have decided to add Morocco..maybe Portugal. Can't wait to read more.....

I was looking into camel trekking, so far looks good. Omar is hard to get a hold of!
BELLE0516 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 08:27 AM
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Driving along the mountain passes are not for the faint of heart. I wouldn't want to be at the wheel. It was cold and windy, but OH, the scenery! At one point Hassan pulls over behind another 4 x 4 with 3 men in it. He gets out goes to the back of their truck, emerges 10 minutes later , a total of 6 kisses to the 1 guy, gets back in our car smiles, and we drive away. Us 4 tourists just looked at each other, like what just happened. It was odd, maybe it's a regular thing. because it would only be the first of these sort of stops. Hassan was also very popular with his cell phone and had an awesome arabic music ringtone that I would like to get.

Anyhoo, our next stop would be Ait Benhaddou. Until this point we had been on a really good paved road. Until this point, when Hassan turned off the road for a 12K 4 wheel drive. It was super bumpy, but really cool and we were like little kids with dad driving, yipee over each bump. We arrive. First stop restroom.

Ait Benhaddou is a village that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located about 20 miles NW of Quarzazate it has been used a bunch as a filming location. We walk thru a small village street where you can see the perched village in the distance. One must cross a creek with rag covered rocks and there are plenty of local boys, who for a price will help you cross.

Now everyone crossed themselves easily, but for me. I'm such a sissy sometimes. I had no Dirham change , but I did have American coins. Soon I had an entourage guiding me across 1, 2, 3, 4 rocks, I'm a sissy! They said they would be there to take me back.

We walked up the village,past the stork nests and the caved rooms, were charged 10 D each by some more boys to pass higher, for the conservations of the village, LOL, and then made our way back. Hey, my guys weren't there, they blew me off. And after I crossed ,I saw those mini Lords of Flatbush sitting on a rock laughing at me. Buggers! On the way to the village down the small street there are a bunch of shops , the men calling to you to come and look. I kept saying on my way back, to quiet them. Well on my way back one stopped me and I said I have to go. He said, "Oh my God", You lied to me", it was really funny, maybe you had to be there. I did lie LOL. Anyway this is a very picturesque place and definitely worth the stop, IMO.

As we left Ait B. Hassan received a call. It was Omar ( who we decided was a very mysterious man) instructing him to make a stop in Quarzazte on our way to lunch to pick up the 2 oversleepers from that morning. We questioned Hassan, curious as to who would be joining us. Robin and I were hoping 2 cute guys,perhaps Aussies, but no such luck. However the travellers we did get were awesome and will remain our friends .

Next up lunch and our new car mates

Pix from AitB

laartista is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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laartista - I am REALLY enjoying your report and the pictures to go along with it. (By the way, love how you have broken up the pictures to go along with each section- I appreciate the time you've taken). As I mentioned earlier we are leaving in a little over one month and your report is getting me even more excited. I do often waver between excitement and apprehension - I too am a bit of a sissy and consider this to be way exotic and adventurous for us!! I too love to shop, particularly when travelling - those things I bring home provide lasting memories of the trip!!

Absolutely love the pictures from Ait Benhaidou. Checked our itinerary from our desert guide to make sure we will be stopping there and we are!! This is good, or I would have had to add it.

Keep the report and pictures coming!
jgg is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 10:15 AM
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Thanks jgg- It does take longer going thru the photos and writing to match groups of pix, but I figure this way people who are interested can see what I'm talking about. At this rate, it'll be a long one. Glad it's helpful thou. It's been fun reliving it thru the report.

Right before lunch we stopped at a bus stop in Quarzazate to pick up our new car mates. Who would they be? As we slowly drove up we spotted a couple with backpacks, that must be them. One can never go by first impressions I learned a long time ago, but Linze and Graham were a sight. Both from Bristol a total punk rock couple. He with a fire red-orange mohawk and she with bleached blonde dread ponytails, the 4 of us looked at each other and were all thinking- this should be interesting. And it was. They were awesome people who we would have the absolute best time with. AND, they also had ipods full of great tunes and funnily enough the same music tastes. The great thing about travelling is that sometimes you hang with people you wouldn't normally and because you wouldn't normally you can miss out on some really great people!

Hassan took us to a really pretty restaurant with a great view of Quarzazte for lunch. It was about 4. There was an old man playing a banjo like instrument outside. We sat on a terrace deck. We learned that Linz and Graham actually did not oversleep but rather there was a mix up with which riad they were at. Omar finally found them and stuck them in a Grand taxi for the 4 hour ride over the Atlas to Quarzazate- at no xtra charge. That's just the kind of guy Omar is. For lunch we had a choice of soup or salad, most got soup, including me and then a chicken and veggie tangine and really deilic sweets for dessert plus the mint tea.

The soup was very tasty and I love the gigantic wood ladle spoons. Yum Yum, my soup, until..... Are those legs in my soup? attached to a body? Ewwwwwww- it is, Ugh! A big bug in my soup! The other 5 found it quite amusing. They checked their soup, no bugs so they kept eating, but I had lost my appetite. The little grey cat that befriended me however did not, and he soon would be sharing in my chicken tangine.


After lunch we piled back in the 4x4 and onto the Dadas Valley and the kasbah B&B where we would be staying for the night. Hassan said another 2-3 hours. We were all very tired and most including I dozed off as soon as the sun went down. I awoke about 40 min. prior to arrival. It was freezing out and as we drove the windy dark mountain roads I couldn't get over all the berber peoples walking along the side the road. In their long cloaks, never turning around to watch for the cars, they just walked. The road was lined with lots of homes, many new construction. The people gathered in groups by walls crouching, smoking and chatting. Only men, no women. A few dogs who seemed to travel in packs. We were discussing how it was so cold and yet these people were gathering outside. Why not gather in one of the buildings? If anyone cares to enlighten me I'd love to know. It was all very interesting.

Finally! we arrive at our Kasbah for the night. It was a beautiful old building with gorgeous tile work lobby. We signed in, were given our room keys, and all went our seperate ways only to meet back up in the dining room 1/2 hr. later at 7:30 for dinner.

Our room, number 14 I believe. It was fine, sparse, but absolutely, freakin freezing. My nose was running! There were 2 beds, 1 single , 1 double. I told Robin she could have the big bed I'd take the small. There was a space heater between the 2 that DID NOT WORK! Out of habit whenever I get to a hotel room I always pull back the covers to make sure there are clean sheets. I know, call me crazy but it's just me. Funny thing is I'm an total slob at home. Anyway, I pull back the berber blankets(2) which are quite heavy and there he is, BIG BLACK SPIDER IN MY BED. 2nd bug friend of the day. Robin starts laughing, says kill it. I'm not gonna kill it. Not his fault he's a spider. I'll put a contract out on the bug but will never kill it myself, especially not after reading the Dali Lamas' book. I then stated I would not be sleeping in the bug bed but that Robin would have to share hers with me. LOL

As Robin is murdering the spider I check out the bathroom. Colder than the room itself, rusty pipes and no shower curtain means no shower for me the next day. By the time we return to M-kech Mon. night it would be since Sat. am that I had showered,YUK , but I was in good company with the rest of the group, I think including Hassan.

I went downstairs to sit in the warm dining room which had a fireplace while Robin preened a bit. LOl I did stop at the front desk to inform Hassan and the desk guy of the spider in the bed. Now I can't say any of that in French or Arabic and although my charade skills are expertise I was having a hard time. The only thing I'm even better at than charades is pictionary(the artist in me). So right there on the sign in book I draw a stick bed with a stick figure spider in the middle. The 2 men looked at each other, said AH, and quickly went to my room. When they got there Robin informed them she had killed the spider and threw him over the balcony.

Next a night at the kasbah
laartista is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 12:15 PM
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At 7:30 the 6 of us meet in the dining room for dinner. Hassan, although we invite him to join us opts to hang out with the drivers from the other groups that were there. I told the group of the spider and they all laughed, it was xtra funny considering the soup episode earlier in the day. They said their rooms were also very cold, but apparently not as cold as Robin's and mine. The dinig room was very rustic and felt like a ski lodge.

For dinner, what else/ Soup and chicken tangine, served family style. It was very good and we had alot of fun chatting , sharing stories and histories and our observations about Morocco so far. We were all very hungry, cleared our plates and enjoyed mint tea and dessert. Seems another thing we had in common is we were all night owls so at 9:30 noone was ready for bed even though we had to be up at 7 am. I said it was too bad we didn't have any cards when Nick piped in and said she did.

Nick returned with the cards Robin went and got the nuts from M-kech and we played peanut poker, walnuts being the largest bet, followed by almonds and then cashews. It was fun but slow moving and we kept getting side tracked in conversation , including politics and religion which was interesting. So, we decided to switch the game and play Shithead. Alot more fun except for Linze who was the shithead every round. It would be around 1 am before we would all return to our rooms.

Back at the room I had a horrible coughing attack, ear ache getting worse and can I say again freezing. I literally piled on about 5 layers, looked like a mini michelin man, gloves included and slept in my hat. Honestly, didn't know whether to laugh or cry, I was feeling miserable but the situation was so whacked I couldn't help but laugh, the more I laughed, Robin laughed and then the coughing it was awful and can I just say again COLD! Robin and I got into the big bed, piled all 7 blankets in the room on top of us and just lie there staring at the ceiling occasionally giggling. Robin says she can't feel her feet, she needs more socks, the stupid space heater keeps clicking on and off and finally at some point we both dozed off for what seemed like 10 min. when there was a knock at the door to get up for breakfast.

I quickly dressed exchanging some of my layers for others, for what I was wearing is what I would be in for the next 2 days. I felt like my hair itself was starting to form dreadlocks. This situation called for a hat, good thing I was already wearing mine from SLEEPING IN IT! Definitely a bad hair day.

I got to breakfast before Robin, she needed to check her sugar, take a shot and apply some lip gloss. You know she was once miss corn county or something- the beauty queen in her- lip gloss is not a luxury but a neccessity. At breakfast Nick and Matt were already seated, chipper morning people those 2. Robin , I, Graham and Linz were not morning people. In fact Linz and Graham were not even up yet.

Breakfast was good, crepe like pancakes with apricot jam and honey, coffee, mint tea and o.j. Hassan came by to get our bags to load them on the 4 x 4 we would be leaving by 8:30 a.m to go to the Gorge. It was snowing and really cold. I think we were originally to walk the valley but due to the weather that was scratched.

We were finally all at the table, exchanged the horrors of our cold rooms and piled back into the 4 x4 and what became our assigned seats. I again was up front with Hassan.

The weather was really awful which made those mountain roads even scarier. And still the Berbers they walk, along the side of the robe in their robes in the snow. amazing sight really.

Our first stop of the day would be at the Todra Gorge. A massive photo op. There are 2 routes it seems from Quarzazate to Merzouga. One that goes thru Tinher and Erfoud to the North and the other which we would return on that goes thru Alnif and the Draa Valley to the South.

Anyway back to the gorge. Said to be the most impressive cliffs in southern Morocco, I would have to agree. But then again I think they are the only cliffs I saw-still impressive. i guess alot of mountaineers climb them. They say best to see them in the morning which is why we stayed where we did. There was a kasbah hotel across the todra river where we went to do what else? use the restrooms. It was a beautiful setting and a nice property as you can see in the photos I'll post.
laartista is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 12:24 PM
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Loving your photos! Now I really want to go back to Morocco! I spent two horrible days in Tangiers about 8 years ago, but vowed I'd go back someday.
I can't seem to ever pass up a stray cat on my travels either. Drives by hubbie crazy even though he too likes cats.
Kristina is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 12:40 PM
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Pix of the gorge
laartista is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 02:02 PM
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Day 4 still

After we left the gorge we were headed toward Tinher. The drive was beautiful as we passed thru palm groves, oases, kasbah villages all really neat. The snow stopped as we left the mountain roads, still chilly though. We did not stop in Tinher but soon after Hassan pulled over and a few men came to the window of the car.Hassan asked, in English which was interesting because he really didn't speak any, would we like to see an authentic Berber home. We 6 just exchanged glances- we were no dummies, there had to be a reason for this stop. To be honest this was the only thing that annoyed me. Otherwise I think Omar's company is absolutely the best and I will use them again. I just don't like people thinking just because your a tourist your stupid. So into the Berber home/ carpet shop we went LOL. We really had no choice so we followed the men from room to room each covered with a carpets nicer than the ones before. We sat and sipped mint tea as we got a history lesson/pitch about the carpets.

None of us were biting, I think Robin and I were probably the ony ones who could swing a moderately priced carpet. NIck and Matt were fresh out of school, first jobs, and Lynz and Graham seemed to have an odd job here and there. I inquired about one carpet and was quickly whisked away from my new friends and taken to the "secret bargaining room". The main carpet salesman started to talk and I kept saying how much when he came back with 13,000 D. What? You nuts buddy 13,000 thats like 1600 us. He said of course that was not the final price, well I knew that. He asked what I could spend. Certainly not 1600, that was 1/3 of my entire trip budget. I said 150$/ 1200 D. He laughed a hearty laugh, literally snapped his fingers and one of his minions came in with a bathmat! O.K. we're done here. I thanked him for his time and returned to the group who all wanted to know about my super secret business meeting. I told them and every single one said 13,000D- no way. No way was right. And so we were out of there and poor Hassan, no rug commission today.

Onward to Erfoud for lunch. We were starvin marvins. We had already broke into the left over nuts from the poker game and one package of cookies from the 2 that I had brought for our camels. So, needless to say not a one of our group was too happy when we pull up to a smelly, dirty eatery in rainy Erfoud. Erfoud is not known for their food!

We couldn't decide where to sit. It was raining and cold and the crappy awning kept leaking outside and it smelled really rank inside. We opted for inside by the door with the door open. Lynz, Robin and I opted to eat light, we ordered cheese omeletts that were actually not half bad. Graham, Nick and Matt ordered omelettes plus chicken tangine , again.

After lunch it was onto Merzouga. It was still raining. They say they get like 4 days a year of rain like that and wouldn't you know, the one night I'm gonna be sleeping in the mighty Sahara desert- RAIN! Did I mention the next day was my birthday.

We continue on the road past desert scapes and we all jump and yell like little kids when we see the loose camels walking across the landscape. It was awesome and I laughed at the thought of this group on a safari. We were all such city folk that everytime we saw a goat/sheep/donkey we squealed. Hassan got a kick out of this and began to slow down whenever we saw any animal. He'd nudge me and point to a dog and say "dog" or "goat". It was very cute. LoL

Finally Hassan takes a left turn off the road for another 4 wheel experience. It's neat driving across the sand and in the distance we can see some structures. I asked if there was a bathroom anywhere and he said a berber bathroom which is technically a bush or a tree or some sort of fauna. No, I said a non berber bathroom. He just laughed. We passed a large hotel type place and finally came to Omars camel pen and hut. It had stopped raining but was very cloudy and still cool although warmer than the mountains.

Omar is there to greet us and I ask again before getting out of the car about the toilet. Omar makes the same joke about the berber bathroom. He then tells Hassan to take us to that large hotel structure across the way. We head over, use their restrooms, scope out their sleeping tents which are many and right on the property as opposed to the dunes and head back to Omar.

We are greeted by his crew, mint tea and the ever so adorable camel herd.
laartista is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 03:30 AM
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Still Day 4 LOL ( I'm trying to post the pics w/ corresponding events so- lengthy-sorry

Just as we were given our mint tea, my cell phone rings, it was my sister to wish me a Happy Birthday.

ME: "Hello"

SISTER: An, where are you, Happy Birthday!

ME: Jill, I'm in the freakin SAHARA DESERT! How crazy is that!



SISTER: Hey Eric, my sisters in the desert with camels!

LOL It was so nutty. A half a world away, I'm in the middle of nowhere and that phone rings. Kudos to Tmobile.

Omar had about 6 or 7 guys there, hanging around and waiting for us. They began to prep the camels with saddles, supplies and our overnight bags. He had about 30 or so camels.We would only be using 6.

I had heard that camels are not that nice. That they spit and kick but Omar had nice camels. They were friendly and really cute. I loved their long eyelashes(L'oreal should really use them for a mascara commercial). Very sweet faces.It's amazing how big they are. Until you stand right next to them, they don't seem that large. I had also read somewhere that camels like cookies. SO, I had brought some. We 6 ate one roll in the car, but I had Chips Ahoy for those camels and Boy did they like them. The pictures are really funny. They all surrounded us with the cookies. They were very gentle, big huge tongue would grab that Chips Ahoy, then yum, yum, yum, with the teeth sticking out. I got such a kick out of it.

The camels saddled, they lined them up in 2 sets of three, linked together by rope. One set of 3 behind the other. The lead camel was dark brown. He kept making this strange loud noise like a water gurgle and a huge pink blob that looked like a veiny bubblicious bubble gum bubble kept coming out the side of his mouth. It was kind of gross, No, it was gross, They said that camels name was Bob Marley, but I think all the camels were named Bob Marley. Although, Robin said hers was named Jimmy Hendrix.

I asked the guy why Bob was doing that, he said Bob wanted a female camel.Bob was a horny camel.

*** To go back a minute. For the prior 2 days I was getting teased about how I was with the animals. Feeding every cat, petting every donkey. The joke was that I was gonna end up with the one mean camel. Well he wasn't mean, just horny!****

Bob, was the lead and he had all the supplies on him. The one guy pointed to me and said, "you come here", "this one is yours". "Mine? No I don't want that one." Everyone was laughing. I later found out they needed the smallest person for the camel with the supplies. So I was first on and up- and it was wild, a bit scary at first, you are so high up. I held on with white knuckles and would do so for the next 2 hours while we trekked to our camp in the dunes.

Hassan would not be coming with. Omar would be. In this set of pictures there is a pix of Robin with 2 guys, Hassan is in the brown jacket and Omar in the white scarf.

laartista is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 04:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 118
Awesome pictures! I'm hooked on your trip report. More more........=)
BELLE0516 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 06:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,880
thanks Bell- glad a few are enjoying it

There we were lined up. Me in front followed by Linze & Graham. Second set Nick, Robin & Matt. Each trio had a berber guide who would walk in front leading the camels for the 2 hours. Omar, mysterious as he is, would walk within eyesight but along the ridges of far off dunes. It was cool to see 1 man in white walking along the dunes in the distance.

It was lightly raining,cloudy and the desert looked more brown than red. That part was kind of a bummer but still THE SAHARA DESERT! Unbelievable. You feel so small, your world seems so far away- it's really mind-freeing. And peaceful, very, very peaceful. Except, then comes Bad Boy Berber!

Bad Boy Berber, aka Achmed, was one of Omars guys. He arrived on a small motorcycle. Dressed in all white with a light blue turbin to match his eyes- this guy was gorgeous and right out of central casting. He looked like a movie star. Robin and I were both like H E L L O !

Up and over the dunes we went. When we would come to a down slope the guide would turn around and say lean back. A bit wobbly those camels. Big round hoof prints in the sand. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. I had heard jeans are not the best because your thighs get chaffed so I wore tights with yoga pants, all cotton, pretty comfy. It was cold though and our head scarfs that Omar supplied and wrapped around our heads came in handy.

The ride was awesome, Robin took most of the pix. She was flippin around on that camel like an acrobat.I however was a bit tense- really tense. Would not let go.

I was loving the camel ride except my ear was getting worse and by the time we arrived at camp it felt like a knife was piercing it. Lucky for me, between Robin and I we had a pharmacy of medications. Before I left I had gone to see my doc for a check up. She gave me a scrip for Cipro in case I got a bug. I figured it can't hurt so as soon as we dismounted at camp I started the cycle of Cipro, took 2 Tylenol cold and sinus and within an hour was feeling a bit better. But that ear would nag me for the rest of the trip. I think it was from all the flying.

Camp consisted of 3 smallish camel hair tents, set up in a U with a table and small chairs around it. It was dusk and the men unloaded the camels. The camels would rest by a large bush for the night. Except for Bob Marleys gurgling noise we wouldn't have known they were there.

Omar was waiting for us. He said we were going to visit a berber family and have tea in their tent while the others set up for dinner. He said to follow him, they were 2 dunes away. We 6 followed Omar in the light rain, it was getting dark and it was kind of difficult walking up hill in the sand. Great butt exercise. I was panting by the time we reached the Berber family.

When we arrived the 6 of us plus Omar and Bad Boy Berber entered the home of the Berber family. A small tent maybe 12 x 12 tops. It was very warm in there and we sat in a circle with the wife( not more than 17 and very pretty) the husband and their 2 young boys ages 1 1/2 and 3. As e1 talked, nick played with the kids, the wife prepared the tea and I just watched.

The 2 children had bad colds. I kept thinking all they have is in this tent, no medicines. I didn't feel well and was able to take things to make me feel better, this family did not have that luxury- or any luxury. Just the basics.

Omar said once a week the husband would walk to village to get food and supplies. They had 2 tents in their camp. One for living, one for sleeping. They used to have a farm with goats and such but because of the drought over the past few years the animals died and now they live in the desert in the winter and cooler months and when it gets hot they go to the mountains to hunt for fossils. Crazy. Omar also told us he pays them 500D(60 Us) a month to tent sit his camp.

The wife did not speak, not once. Omar told us we could take pix but all of us felt that wasn't right. We wanted to respect this family and not one photo was taken by not one of us. The guest men were served first and then us girls. They had only 6 glasses so when someone finished she would rinse the glass, dry it meticulously and serve Omar or her husband who had not yet had any.

We stayed for about 45 min. or so. We thanked the family and all left. It made me sad, and also made me feel stupid about the shit I sometimes get upset about. I guess everythings relative but it really puts things into perspective and makes one realize if they hadn't already known, how lucky they are.

In the dark rain we walked back to camp, very little light,only shadows, moon was not out, too many clouds.

laartista is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 07:11 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,683
I've been wondering what to wear for our camel ride. It looks like Robin was wearing jeans. Did she have any problems with them chafing??
jgg is offline  

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