Welcome to life in Morocco, where donkeys are treated better than dogs and cats, where old life mixes with new, where my best friend lives, and where I’ve been adventuring for the last week! You can see a quick recap of my first few days and travel time here but for now I invite you to come along on a fun, beautiful, and unique trip into the Sahara Desert and back out with me…and please read to the end for a VERY SPECIAL shout-out to someone so incredible in my life…
Why I Came to Adventure: I came out to Morocco in the middle of our film tour not to get away from the RV (haha!) but because I was gifted this trip from very generous and loving friends of my family and I. It was certainly an unexpected and once-in-a-lifetime offer and couldn’t say no, even though it coincided with the film tour at a busy time. So to those friends, Thank you! for making this trip possible and to Mikey, Thank you! for allowing me to leave and encouraging me to have an amazing time with my best friend!
How the Adventure Began: It’s spring break for Anna here (she’s a teacher at an international school in Casablanca) so we timed the trip to take the most advantage of her free time! Together with her boyfriend, Christian, we hit the road desert-bound and just returned yesterday from an incredible trip into the desert and back hitting several towns in the loop of the drive along the way.
First Stop: the Marrakesh M’dina Market: We woke up early on Monday morning and hit the road for the 3 hour drive to our first stop on the journey: Marrakesh. It has a great m’dina there (which means “old city”) and lots of the typical sites and scenes from a market: snake charmers, monkeys, gifts/souvenirs to buy, and good food.
(A very typical Moroccan breakfast: un cafe, les croissants, du pain, du jus d’orange, et une omelette!)
We explored the market and had fun trying on the biggest necklaces we could find:
After wandering around for a few hours, we got back on the road because this was slated to be our longest part of the road trip. Cue: cruising music, naps in the back in the sun, windows down and hair flying.
We stopped for lunch in a tiny town (or rather, just a small cafe, no real town there) in some beautiful mountains and had, you guessed it, another omelette with bread and the infamous Moroccan mint tea! Here are a couple of shots from that stop:
4-Wheeling in Ouarzazate: This desert town is famous for being the location of many deserted movie sets from films like “Gladiator,” “Cleopatra,” “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Nativity.” We had a connection to a good company for a cheaper deal (thanks, Jo Jo!) and were ready to get out of the car, jump on our quads, and go explore the dunes and these movie sets!
Christian and I with our quading faces on!
Gassing up and a shot while driving…
Beautiful scenes and exploring a movie set!
What a fun and crazy experience! So different, so new, so FUN! I loved opening up on the straight-away’s and flying through the barren, beautiful land and going up and over sand dunes. We joined up with a group of families from their school and tagged along with them for the remainder of the trip, starting with a GREAT meal (late-night, of course; I like the way they live/eat here, which surprised me!):
Sunset on the road…
(Beef tagine and oranges with cinnamon for dessert!)
Over this week, I’ve really come to enjoy these families, what they do, how they’ve raised their kids all over the world, and who they are as individuals. They’re awesome! This was my first night meeting them all (about 12 of them in total!) and the rest of the adventures with them were incredible.
Camel-Bound! Before breakfast the next morning, we took a little hike to the top of the hill and took in the morning sites.
Stream crossing and a “cool band shot”.”
Christian & Anna
After another breakfast of bread and coffee and OJ (bread is a huge part of their diet here!), we were off for another long drive, this time taking us to Merzouga for a trek into the Sahara Desert. I was SO excited about this part of the adventure and loved every.minute.of.it! We had some adventures along the way too, including a great meal (thanks to Achbed!) of Berber pizza (think of a piece of bread opened up and filled with meat and spices and some cheese, then folded over and baked!) and a LEGIT sandstorm as we drove in the middle of nowhere!
Hard to tell, but the sand was EVERYwhere! It was pretty cool to experience.
When we arrived at the auberge, we put on our turbans (and needed them in the storm!…more than for looks!), had some mint tea and peanuts, mounted our camels with a small amount of overnight gear, and were off. The getting-on-and-off-of-the-camel process was an experience in and of itself! The storm was really bad, but the next day when we had clear, less windy weather, we were grateful for the previous day’s storm because it felt like we were able to experience all types of weather in the Sahara.
We arrived at some cool tents walled with heavy rugs able to withstand the wind and elements after our almost 2 hour camel ride. Dinner was still an hour and a half away, so we hiked up to the top of the biggest dune surrounding our tent site that we could find. The sun dropped fast, and that coupled with the wind and blasting sand made it seem more extreme, which added some urgency and intensity to the experience! Anna and I crested the top of the dune and sat for a bit together, wind whipping our faces and barely seeing the lights of the camp below, and flew down the dune to dinner – another tagine with bread and loads of fruit for dessert!
And with that, we found our tents, hit the hay, and called it a day – a very, very good day.
The next morning, Anna and I woke up with several others around 6:15 to climb that tall dune again to see the sunrise. It was an exhilarating experience to wake up, sweat (wow! those dunes get your heart rate up fast as you step, slide and step again!) and watch the sun begin to peek up over dunes in the distance. It’s still hard to believe I was able to do this – these type of experiences are the kind of dreamed of and I am SO grateful for this trip!
Climbing up the dunes
Anna & Christian below; me having some solo time at the top.
The sunrise was beautiful! Not as photo-worthy as some we’ve seen, but certainly an amazing experience and it got us up and to the top of a huge dune! Plus, it gave us an excuse to take some sweet shots…
(Wish you were here, Mikey!)
After an incredible time on the top of that dune, we headed down, grabbed breakfast (the usual but with yogurt this time plus a banana I’d saved from dessert the night before) and were off…less camel photos this time (on the blog; lots on my camera!) but a great ride back full of good conversation and also quiet times looking at the dunes.
Matching nose rings.
What a great 2 day excursion! It felt so much longer than that, in the best way possible. After getting back before noon, we knew we had to get moving if we wanted to make it to Fes that night, so we left the auberge where other families were showering/swimming with the Gregg clan (such a great family!) and traveled with them, stopping only for a great chicken/fries/Moroccan salad lunch and to see monkeys that live in the forested town of Azrou.
The drive was BEAUTIFUL and so different than anything we’d seen so far. Oak trees, rolling hills, puffy clouds, and monkeys?! This was not the Morocco I’d envisioned; it resembled California so much and made the drive go by much faster. I love high desert landscapes and the drive out was amazing with the towns built into the hillsides and the snowy Atlas Mountains, but it was fun to get a change of scenery too. We made it to Fes safe and sound and were led by a local through the twisting, narrow streets of the m’dina and were pleasantly surprised that the hotel wasn’t a tourist rip-off (it helps that Anna and Christian can speak some Arabic!) and was beautiful! We spent the night walking the streets, playing Dutch Blitz at night on the bed, and sleeping well.
There is so much to share about visiting a city’s m’dina…but I will finish off recapping our time in Fes with a few photos that speak for themselves because this post is huge! Enjoy a few pics of life in the m’dina, a tannery, and a trip to some fascinating Roman ruins on the way home at Volubuilis.
And that, my friends, brings us to today! We are back from our road trip after an amazing time away and enjoying a dark, cloudy, rainy morning before walking around the beach and making a red curry dinner chez-Anna tonight. I fly out early Sunday morning and re-join the tour; what a switch it will again! Life is full of so many transitions, so many opportunities, so many experiences, and I am so grateful for the chance to take it all with new and old friends and learn so much along the way.
Thanks for reading and please join me in celebrating my favorite man, Mikey freakin’ Lang, as he turns 28 today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HUNK! You truly are a man who lives life to the fullest, so loves with his whole heart and oozes passion into everything you do and everyone you meet. I am so honored to be your wife – it the best role I will ever play and I can’t wait to see you soon and stand by your side again as your teammate, friend, supporter, and helper. I love you; HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
The next time I write it will be from Ontario, Canada – hard to believe a day can start in one corner of the world and finish in another! It’s been incredible and I know this kind of trip doesn’t happen every day. What a gift, what a great thing to be able to connect with my friend and see her life, and what a wonderful experience. Thank you for sticking through this long post – regular WW2H Tour posts to come in the near future! Have a great weekend and Happy Easter everyone,