Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hello Africa!

Last Thursday I left Italy for Morocco!

After a quick train and bus to the Rome Ciampino Airport, we (Amy, Scott, Andrew, Seàn, Mark, Holdt, Ceilidh, and myself) took off for Fès.

Last of my Ryanair flights...thank goodness! 

Fès is the third largest city in Morocco and is famed for its two large medinas and tanneries.

Once we landed and figured out where in Fès we were suppose to be staying, we found our way to the older part of the city. We stayed at Dar Rabha, where we couldn’t have asked for a friendlier staff. We ended our evening sitting on one of the roof terraces, overlooking the city while smoking shisha (flavored tobacco)—traditional for the region.

The next day Amy, Scott, and I took off on an adventure that I don’t believe any of us will ever forget. We were heading to the Sahara desert. We met our driver and guide, Ufasa, in the morning.

We stopped off at a couple of towns in the morning for food and to see the sights.

...We saw monkeys!

Once we got into the Atlas mountain range a strange sound started coming from the car. Of course we started to get a little worried, so Scott asked to pull over and check things out. We couldn’t tell what it was, so we got back on the road…and a few minutes later…POP! We had a flat tire.

I felt awful for Ufasa because not only did we get a flat, but he had to try to change it in the middle of nowhere while the temperature was well below freezing. Once the new wheel was on we took off again and…something with the tire bent and we could not make it any further. Ufasa got a hold of a local mechanic and after about two hours we were, quite literally, picked up by a pick up truck and taken into town.

Grin and bear it :)

Since there seemed to be a piece of the car that was rubbing against the tire and it couldn’t be fixed quickly, Ufasa called his daughter back in Fès to bring us a new car. This was so sweet of her because she had to drive the car around an hour in a half to us and then take a taxi back home.

We were finally back on the road! About an hour later we were driving on the highway and while passing another car on the road…POP! Another flat tire. Thankfully we were only delayed about an hour more and with the help of some friendly men who pulled over to help us out.

…but really, two flat tires with two different cars in one day?? You cannot make this stuff up.

At least we were able to see some beautiful skylines! 

By this time the sun started to go down, but we decided that we wanted to continue on to the desert. Around 10:00pm we arrived in a small town were another man who took us in to the desert in a 4x4…it was so fun!

We arrived at the base site for the camps, had dinner, played some drums and got ready to head out into the desert. Since we were in Berber territory—an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa—we were able learn more about their culture and traditions.

...Scott, Amy, and myself

Although things did not work out exactly the way we had hoped, the three of us were about to ride camels into the Sahara under the stars. A pretty good trade-off, if you ask me.

It was unreal. The peacefulness, the beauty, and the fact that we were riding camels in the Sahara…it was definitely a moment that I will never forget.

Once we reached the campsite, we drank tea (a staple in the Moroccan diet), danced, sang, and once again played traditional drums well into the night. Mohammed and Obarack our helpful guides were so great and we had such a blast with them!

...Obarack helping Scott with his turban


...We made sand angles! 

When we were finally to tired to move, the three of us decided to “forgo our individual suites” and chose to sleep on top of a sand dune underneath the stars.

After a freezing yet breathtakingly beautiful night, we woke up to watch the sunrise over the Algerian/Moroccan boarder. It was unbelievable.

After the sun was up, the temperature did a "360" and was well in to mid-70s. 

We packed up and took out camels back to the base site where we had a traditional Berber breakfast.

After breakfast we headed back into the city where we met a very friendly man who showed up the various types of rugs and designs custom to Berber rug making. Amy and Scott ended up buying one each…they are beautiful!

...On our way back into the city

...So many rugs! 

Once we made it back to Fès we met back up with the other guys, who had stayed in the city the whole weekend and ate a traditional dinner that they helped make. I have to say, I was pretty impressed!

Amy and I headed back to our room and quickly fell asleep…Africa had worn us out!

Even with all of the hiccups along the way to the Sahara, I am so glad that I went. This past weekend was unlike anything I have ever experienced before and for that I am forever grateful!

PS…did anyone else notice that I was traveling with a Scott and Amy? My parents’ names are Scott and Amy…so weird!    

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