Jack pops his head through the entrance of our tent made out of camel wool blankets. “I’m sorry to wake you guys up, but I swear it’s worth it to come outside right now,” he whispers.
I rub my groggy eyes and look at my watch. It’s 4 in the morning. We went to bed a couple of hours ago and all I want to do is sleep, but I trust his word. I lift myself up from the piece of foam that lies between my body and the desert ground. I step outside. The air is brisk, the sand beneath my feet is cold. It’s so quiet that I feel as if I don’t really exist. At some point in the night, the Moon retired beneath the horizon leaving billions of his star soldiers to stand watch and light up the Earth.
There have been few moments on this trip in which I’ve been in complete awe of the beauty of nature. In South Africa, lions and leopards live in the mountains that meet the coast that kisses the ocean where the penguins, seals and sharks swim. In Munnar, India, the mountains of vibrant, green tea bushes roll through the blue sky.
It’s unfortunate that I’ve witnessed overall disregard for the preservation of the earth and disrespect for its inhabitants – animals and humans alike – as I travel around the world. Infinite amounts of trash, plastic and debris clutter most of the streets, sidewalks and waterways in India, Vietnam, Burma, Ghana and Morocco. It seems to be culturally acceptable to use the earth as a big trash can, but there are consequences. For example, the water is contaminated and drinking it poses severe health risks. Also, a lot of this trash gets washed out to sea and harms the marine ecosystem.
But I was overwhelmed with appreciation as I gazed at the canvas of stars above the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert that night. Once again I couldn’t help but be thankful for my existence in this world and the privilege to see a lot of it first hand.
That being said, I had an amazing time in Morocco. My friends, Jack and Emily, and I ventured far southeast of Casablanca to Tagounite, a small desert village near the border of Algeria. There we met cousins Muhammed, 25, and Hassid, 21 who have lived in the dunes of the Sahara for most of their lives.
They prefer the desert because it’s quiet and peaceful, which I highly respect and can understand after experiencing it first hand.
Jack, Emily and I rode camels into the sunset before dinner. I felt as if I was a princess in a movie, with the exception of a prince, but that’s okay.
We also tried sand boarding for the first time. We were successful, but not quite graceful. The sand in the dunes is so fine and soft that I could have rolled around in it all day… well, I just about did.
Muhammed made us tajine, a traditional Berber dish that consists of stewed potatoes, vegetables and meat. Tajine refers to the clay pot that is used to slowly cook the food. It isn’t a spicy dish, but has good flavor. We also drank sweet Moroccan mint tea and ate a few juicy oranges.
We woke up to the sun rising before making the long journey back to Casablanca.