If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that my indecision often leads to rather extreme experiences.
Because coupled to my indecision, is my desire to do.
I blame my Basal Ganglia.
If Bobby doesn’t have a plan, as is normally the case.
Then arriving in M’hamid, a small village on the cusp of the Sahara, the largest hot desert in the world, was of course going to evolve into my own personal adventure.
“Hello friend do you have a tour?”
“Yeah, I’m good thanks.”
“Our tour takes you on camel for three days my friend.”
“Thank you, but I’m doing a different thing.”
“Hello I’m Berber, our camp is very good, we have best price.”
“No, but shukraan”
“My friend where are you going?Come here, look in my shop”
So many desert tours.
More than I can list in both Zagora and M’hamid.
I figured if the tour companies in Zagora, drive you to M’hamid to start the tour, I’ll just taxi myself to M’hamid, then figure it out from there.
Good thinking Bobby.
Thanks Ali Bobby.
Chainsaw sounding ATV’s echoed in the still desert air.
Corridors of golden sand, scarred with the tread of a bravely manoeuvred 4×4’s.
This was M’hamid.
Not my particular kind of jam.
It’s a game of pull the trigger, isn’t it?
So many options, so many experiences.
We get one.
M’hamid is small.
And the road has the word souvenir, tours and excursions listed more than my dad uses the thumbs up emoji.
That’s a lot.
It’s not at all that I’m suspicious of tours, it’s more that the experience they’re selling isn’t the one I want.
I don’t want to be on a Camel behind Rhonda, who’s yelling to her husband Bruce about how hot she is.
I want to be sitting in a tent with Nomads drinking tea preparing for a war with the Tuaregs.
Or at least be hearing stories about the conflicts that they, the Nomads, have had with the Berbers and the kings and the Spanish and French, over the century’s.
Over tea and decadently sheathed sword trading.
Riding a camel in this scenario, is like being in a play.
There’s no purpose to it except aesthetics.
Genuinely overwhelmed with choices, I decided to ignore them all.
I bought three cans of sardines.
Three round breads.
Two snickers bars.
And four litres of water.
Then started walking the dry Draa river bed, to the Lion dune.
There goes Ali Bobby, sauntering off into the high mid day sun.
After three hours.
The landscape transformed from large rocks and brittle sand formations.
To long soft sweeping dunes of golden sand.
I will admit I felt validated here.
The sound of wind gently sharing with me all the secrets in the world, rendering me calm and complete, like a dog when loved.
On my map, the Lion Dune didn’t seem particularly far.
I figured 3 days, 2 nights.
After 16 Kilometres, the sun began vanishing in fantastic colours.
My shoes were swelling with sand, forming odd blisters on the corners of two toes.
When the sun surrendered completely to night.
And the stars were their brightest,
the moon the most incredible.
I unpacked my carpet, a can of sardines and my chocolate bars. Then lit a candle.
I wrapped myself in a blanket, absorbing the enchanting, alien landscape before me.
It was surreal.
At precisely 3:48 in the morning, a wind blew across the barren, dune rich landscape, through my blanket and into my bones.
It was humid and cold.
I pulled my carpet behind a bush of sticks, but couldn’t escape this menacing wind.
So I did the only thing I could do.
I had another snickers bar.
And in the sprit of self preservation I decided to abandon my quest to the Lion Dune by foot, and return to M’hamid.
I left my Dune refuge at 4:30 and arrived at the taxi stand in M’hamid, at 9 am.
I limped through town, wrapped in a blanket as local shops prepared for the day.
Then ate my last can of sardines hunched over a straw garbage bin.
It was here, in my most ape like apex, a fairly new RV drove past me with two older whites inside.
Rhonda and Bruce.
The three of us perusing our own adventures.
I walked close to 40km in less than twenty-four hours.
My hips sang sad, sad songs.
I was so cold in the night that when day breaks light radiated out from the horizon, I cried.
Gratitude for all of it, even the cold, for which the suns heat, in the rawness of nature, is the only remedy.
I returned to my beautiful Zagora, and slept.
Then walked to the hamam, through packs of wild children kicking deflated soccer balls in orange street lights.
The moon was full.
And so was I.