My desire to go to the Sahara desert was so great that I spend 13 hours travelling by bus from Marrakesh to Merzouga, village localizated at 20 km from Algeria.
The adventure started when the bus left Marrakesh and climbing those narrow winding mountain roads.
From the bus the view was a beautiful contrast of sand coloured landscape dotted with specs of green and snow covered mountain tops.
Also, I was lucky to make the trip, because the locals told me, the week before the motorways were closed due the avalanches.
Each bend that the bus driver took was increasing my labyrinthitis and I was already praying to Allah for that bus would stop soon, because my stomach was already in my mouth. The nightmare of the bends finished after a hour and half and then the bus took a rest stop in the mountains, but after that stop, we went down and finally we were on straight highway with views of the desert landscape, passing through small villages with children running behind that bus waving at us. We passed through Ouarzazate, a famous city because of the Atlas Studios, the films Gladiator and The Mummy were recorded in that region and several people got off there.
My lunch was a tasty omelette in the restaurant at the petrol station with a Morrocan tea, it was delicious. The boredom arrived in the afternoon, the landscape wasn’t new anymore and we still had another six hours to get there. I listened to many songs, what I really wanted was to get to the hostel and have a shower. The sunset was spectacular and the cold night with clear starry skies would follow.
So, finally I arrived at the final destination, Merzouga. I felt like a celebrity disembarking that bus, because we were surrounded by people that was fighting for our attention and offering their accommodation services in hostels and hotels. I shouted that I had already booked the hostel and I was waiting for someone from the hostel to collect me, because it was the arrangement I had made by telephone in Marrakesh.
Thus, one of the Berbers asked me the name of the hostel that I had booked and I showed my reservation. He asked me if I would like to go to the hostel by motorbike, I said it was ok, I didn’t mind. On the corner, he showed his motorbike, it was an old scooter. I rode in the dark, where it was only possible to see the starry sky. On the way to the hostel, he asked me the famous question Where are you from? and he started speaking in Portuguese in the middle of the desert, his Portuguese was very understandable. This guy also spoke Arabic, Berber, English, French and Italian. His Portuguese was good because he dated a Brazilian.
We arrived at the hostel and he offered me a cup tea and told me about the tour packages, spend the night camping in the desert, tour in a 4×4 etc. I told him I wouldn’t sleep in the desert, because it was very cold and I had already booked a room and wouldn’t change my mind. He kept trying to convince me to change my mind, then I raised my voice and asked him to bring me back to the bus stop, because I wouldn’t pay the fortune that he was asking to do something that I really wouldn’t like to do.
So, he called his manager and I showed my reservation. The manager apologized to me and told me I was in the wrong hostel, the hostels had similar names. He called my hostel and in less than 30 minutes, another Berber collected me. This time by jeep and the crazy Berber started to drive like a lunatic in the middle of desert.
He apologized to me and told me that I arrived early, because the bus usually arrives after 21h30min and when he was at the bus stop, nobody was there.
After this confusion, the Moroccan dinner was served, tagine chicken and in the background a group of Berbers were playing drums. Finally I had my shower and I went to bed in my bitter cold room. That night was freezing and I slept with two blankets. It was freezing in the room, can you imagine camping in the middle of the desert.
The morning after, the surprise was nicer, the hostel was a few meters from the dunes of Erg Chebbi, the biggest group of dunes in Morocco. The Moroccan breakfast was eggs, omelette, pancakes, tea and a tasty orange juice.
After the breakfast, it was time to explorer the dunes and see what the desert has to offer, I walked for hours in that landscape of orange and red tones against the contrast of the blue sky. When I was walking, my foot was sinking on the sand and marked my footprint in the Sahara desert, I could see it from the top of the dunes. The weather didn’t bother me, because it was December the temperatures were not too high and it was good time to walk through the dunes.
After a camel ride, the day ended with a beautiful sunset that I could watch like a VIP from the top of the dunes. It was possible to see the wilderness of the desert and the countless peaks of the dunes. The sensation was of peacefulness, serenity, gratitude and reflection.
The adventure in Merzouga finished, the mission accomplished, and it was really worth the 13 hours travelling by bus.
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