A camel calamity in Morocco

I pictured “majestic” – riding through the Sahara Desert atop camels on Christmas Day. It would be a real life “We Three Kings of Orient Are …” Or so I thought. My imagination clearly had run away from me on this one.

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We were atop camels on Christmas, alright, but it was anything from the dignified scene I had pictured. The filthy camels stunk. My fellow was an ornery one who spit and my mom’s snorted the entire way. Bumpity, bumpity, bump. Twenty minutes into the hour-long charade, my ass was already sore and I was silently thinking “Are we there yet?” Still though, it truly was a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience – emphasis on the once.

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Selfie on a camel

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Unfortunately, once wasn’t all she wrote. We arrived to the camp at sunset and hiked to the top of the big dune to watch the orange moon rise. After an impressive dinner, we bundled up under piles of wool blankets inside our tent. I was still freezing! We woke up before the sun and saddled up again for the ride back to town. Jokes aside, though, the camel adventure brought plenty of laughs and I’m glad I did it considering not too many people can say they rode a camel across the Sahara on Christmas!

Freezing would be an understatement.

Freezing would be an understatement.

Our caravan at sunrise

Our caravan at sunrise

The rest of the tour carted us, by car, through the Atlas Mountains and the High Desert from Marrakesh to Fez.

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We stopped at a famous Kasbah, or fortress, where Lawrence of Arabia was filmed. The kasbah was once home to the indigenous Berber people.

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We also found a friendly shepherd leading his herd of camels to drink.

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This camel sir is clearly a wild one. Gettin' a bit frisky!

This camel sir is clearly a wild one. Gettin’ a bit frisky!

Camel kisses!

Camel kisses!

A beautiful gorge and tall cedar forest were also photo ops along the way.

On the way to the gorge

On the way to the gorge

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The river cutting through the gorge

Me in the cedar forest

Me in the cedar forest

The best part was how the cactus-spattered wastelands and mountainous horizons reminded me of home.

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–JDF