Before going to bed yesterday, we were told that we have to wake up early to climb the huge dune next to our camp site to see the sunrise (I mean, it obviously makes sense to get up before the sun rises to see the sunrise), if we want to. So at around 4:30 am, I woke up and followed a group of people to start climbing. Well, you would think climbing a dune is as simple as climbing a regular mountain. I thought so too for the first 5 minutes. Now I have to say that climbing to the top of that hill was THE hardest thing I have done physically in my life. Sand, unlike regular earth, sinks when you walk on it. Trying to climb uphill (the dune was actually pretty steep) when each step I took didn’t really advance me that much made the journey to the top much much longer. With the wind continued to blow from all directions, I was soon very very tired. At one point I had to rest for every 10 steps I took. Also, since the sun wasn’t up yet, we were practically climbing in total darkness. The flashlight on my cell phone became my best friend in the desert.
After almost half an hour of hard-core climbing, I finally reached the top of the hill. It would probably only take half the time if it’s a regular hill. We sat on top to see sand being blown from one hill to another, and into my camera. It was probably one of the most disappointing thing that could happen. I climbed up a huge dune in the Sahara Desert, almost couldn’t breathe halfway, managed to make it to the top, and my camera doesn’t work. It wasn’t really broken or anything, but now it just can’t zoom in and out or focus. I did attempt to take a few pictures, which turned out really blurry. At least I can say my camera stops working because of the Sahara Desert, instead of some other less exciting reason.
We waited on top of the dune as the day started to get brighter and brighter, but we still couldn’t see the sun. Looking eastward, it was more sand, and apparently Algeria. Our guides jokingly suggested taking us to Algeria when we were on the camels. And it was probably doable, as we didn’t see any kind of fences, guards, checking points, or any other physical things that define Algeria.
We waited, waited, and waited. More and more sand got into my pants, but the sun was still nowhere to be found. And at around 6:15 am, the sun appeared from behind a cloud, already risen pretty far above the ground.
As we were scheduled to leave the camp by 7 am, we headed back. Walking downhill was a lot easier. With the sinking motion, I ran downhill in like 10 minutes. After we had a cup of mint tea and packed, we got back onto the camels and started heading back to the hotel. The sore-butt only increased the second time, even though the same journey felt a lot shorter compared to yesterday’s. My camel seems to be used to being the first one in the group. Whenever he is tied behind another camel, he always walks faster than the one before him, to the point that he can reach the neck of the camel before him even though he’s tied to the back.
When we finally got back to the hotel, we had breakfast, showered (waited for a while as there were about 10 guys sharing the room), and was back on the bus ready to head back to Fez. I slept through most of the 8+ hours journey, as I probably only slept for 3 hours in the desert. We stopped in the town of Ifrane trying to see if we could see the monkeys the town is famous for. The moment we got out of the bus, it started pouring, and we were informed that the monkeys had gone home. Quite a bummer.
After getting back home, I showered again, and while I was washing my hair, I just saw sand flowing out like stardusts. Sahara Desert is really an unforgettable experience, in so many different ways…