Morocco map:
Sahara & More
Dec 19, 2000

These older journal entries were hastily typed in at local cybercafes where I was paying by the minute.  Please excuse grammar mistakes or typos. 

Sahara and more
First a valley girl haiku: 

Like, oh my god wow!
Exclaimed the weary tourist
That's a big sand dune

Coming up with Haikus is just one of the many ways to kills time on a 10 hour bus ride back from the desert. 
The Sahara itself was amazing.  You approach through a hundred miles of flat dry ground desert covered in loose rocks.  You see mountains in the distance.  As you get close, you discover that the "mountains" are huge dunes of golden sand.  It was just as you would expect from the movies, most likely because the movies were indeed filmed right here.  Lawrence of Arabia was, and as a matter of fact, some English movie is being filmed a few kilometers to the north. 

We stop at the edge of the dunes at this little hotel and pick up our camels.  It's an utterly amazing feeling of adventure to be hopping on a camel and heading out into Sahara.  To the left as we depart, we see the beautiful scene of the shadow of a camel caravan (us) against a dune.  I hope the picture came out.  We spent the night sleeping in nomadic tents in the desert.  The temperature dropped down to a lovely 4 degrees celsius that night. 

In the day and a half before hitting the desert we saw the Dades gorge which is the Moroccan equivalent to the Grand Canyon.  We also saw the Draa valley.  Surrounded by miles of desert in every direction the Draa Valley has a river running through it and it is filled with palm trees, farming and other vegetation.  The contrast between the dry brown hills and the green valley is incredible. 

My parents warned me about Morocco - something to the affect of "The people are very rude and unfriendly".  I joked back "If I had to pray fives times a day and couldn't drink alcohol I'd be pretty damn rude and unfriendly too."  There is a lot of poverty and many people will try to take advantage of tourists.  However, once you leave the tourist areas, the Moroccans are generally friendly and very hospitable.  Our taxi driver inviting us home for dinner was just one example. 

The clothes still take some getting used to.  I'd expected to see all of the women in veils.  In actuality, only a few of them are wearing veils.  However, all Moroccans, men and women cover their legs and arms.  You almost never see a bare forearm while walking down the street.  The more conservative Muslims wear full hooded robes.  It became instantly clear not only where Speilberg got his idea for the sand people, but where he bought the costumes as well. 

Warning:  While there are good parts of Morocco, but I would not recommend women to travel to Morocco without a male companion.  Any amount of hassling or trouble I have experienced, women adventuring out alone seem to experience tenfold. 

Tomorrow at midnight I will most likely be getting on a train to start making my way back to Spain. 

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