A traveling experience like no other
I’m sure it has happened to most of us; you’re driving on a one lane road and end up getting stuck behind the jerk going 10 miles under the speed limit. Here in Morocco such a driver is likely to feel the wrath of the rest of the vehicles on the road. Riding in a taxi through Rabat is an exciting but dangerous event. Drivers don’t hesitate to pass in no passing areas, even if there is on-coming traffic, cars attempt to pass each other on exit ramps and there is nothing wrong in Morocco with having an argument with the car next to you while doing 65 mph. There is a taxi driver my friends and I have had on a few occasions who loves to talk to us in Arabic. This is great, because it's good practice. However, it's almost resulted in a few collisions.
I recently went on a school- sponsored trip to an area of the Sahara desert called Merzouga. It was a long trip, about eight hours, which does not include stops but was well worth the time. We left at 8 a.m. Friday morning and made our first stop in the town of Irfan. Irfan is a surprising place to visit, because it looks nothing like Morocco. It’s heavily forested. There is a ski resort and all the buildings have a European style to them. The one difference that sets it apart from a European city is the fact there are wild monkeys which inhabit the area.
After Irfan we made several stops for photos and in one town. we were given a tour of where and how the locals live. It was interesting to see how much life out near the Sahara varies from the city life in Rabat. It is much more primitive. Most things needed for daily life are fashioned in shops within the town, and many of the buildings were made of mud and straw. For lunch we stopped at a restaurant, or well it was a mud building that served the function of one, that also included music performed by people who were actually originally from Mali. The musical number they did was interesting, as it was not even Moroccan.
In order to go to the actual area of Merzouga, we needed to switch over to 4x4 vehicles because the road ended at a certain point. The vehicles then took us to where the camels were and from there it was about a two hour camel ride to the small Berber camp, which was located near a small patch of scrub brush among the sand dunes. Riding a camel is not like riding a horse. It’s much more uncomfortable. I can't really endorse doing it again. We then spent the night at the camp.
Spending the night in the Sahara was great. It’s total stillness. There is nothing. No lights or cars. There were no insect or animal noises either. We were isolated except for a few nomad camps in the area. The next morning, we woke up early and took the camels back to the 4x4's and then from there we began the long trip back to Rabat.
Now it is back to class. I only have a week and a half left of class. However, I’ve decided to stay longer after classes end in order to travel around Morocco. Among the places we will go will be the disputed Western Sahara region. I know my Arabic studies are paying off. I can now direct a taxi to my apartment by myself.