Maple Leafs in Morocco: Stuart Graber

While writing this article, I am listenting to DJ Badrdine’s “100% Electro Amazing,” a CD I bought on the streets of Meknes.  It is yet another addition to my collection as I search for Morocco’s best electronic music.  I had to abate my search during this past weekend, though, because we traveled to the Sahara.

After the 8-hour bus ride to Kaspa Xaluka, the staff at our hotel welcomed us with dancing women and men with tambourines. The hotel was ridiculously nice.  There was a mini-golf course with a full-on 5-foot ramp, a spa and a small soccer court. All of these things were dwarfed in importance, though, when we found out that the rooms had A/C.

The next afternoon we arrived in Merzouga, the place where we were going to start our camel trek to a camp in the Sahara. Packed and dressed for the occasion (including the turbans most of us bought in Fez), we all mounted camels, our mode of transportation for the day.  I quickly named mine “Dirty Dan” because of his dirt-colored hair and his real name, which was obviously Dan. We got in small groups of 5-6 camels, each led by a guide.

The landscape quickly changed into sand dunes in all directions, and after a few hours we arrived in our camp.  It was at the base of one of the largest dunes I had ever seen. Before dinner, a few other Goshenites and I climbed up to the top. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Without light pollution, the stars shone at maximum intensity and their light gave off distinct shadows on the side of the dune. We were treated to dinner and live music later that night until we passed out on our cots.

The next morning, we woke up for the sun rise, had some atea na’na’ (mint tea) and climbed back on the camels. Yet I found I had not gotten back on Dirty Dan!  John Miller (not big John) had stolen him!  The ride back made us realize how much our legs hurt. Michael had an especially hard time. I think his words were, “I ripped some skin off my tailbone.”

This whole Sahara experience was amazing. I embraced the tourist in me for a few days. Now coming back to the city with host families and classes, I need to focus on my Moroccan Arabic, or lack thereof.

Stuart Graber is an informatics major.

Mary Roth
Written by Mary Roth

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