WAHA! Camel time.

Before I start this post here is some essential Arabic vocabulary:

Waha:  OK

Shukran:  Thank you

Salam:  Hello

Salam walaykoom:  Hello (formal), Good Morning, Good afternoon, Good evening

Na’am:  Yes

La: no

READY?  Practice!  There will be a quiz at the end of this post!  ha, gotcha.

I never thought I would have the chance to step foot on Arica.  Lucky me I have some awesome parents (thanks again mom and dad!) who love me a lot and gave me probably the most chulo (cool) Christmas gift ever:  a 5 day trip to Morocco AND THE SAHARA DESERT.  Yes, folks, that’s right I said SAHARA DESERT!

Geography lesson:  Political Map of Morocco

Geography lesson: Political Map of Morocco

We sailed for Africa, ok we took a ferry…and landed in Tangiers, Morocco.  It was literally a 14 KM ride from the port of Tarifa, Spain.  We then head by bus to Rabat for lunch.  We also had a chance to see the Hassan Tower (that is modeled after the Gilada in Sevilla) and the Mausoleum of Mohammad V.  The Hassan Tower is the largest minaret in the world, but it actually unfinished.

Hassam Tower

Hassan Tower

One thing I should mention is that everyone I talked to in my pueblo told me how the food in Morocco would be terrible…along with many other things too (Spaniards aren’t really desiring to visit Morocco).  Oh that were so wrong.  The first meal we had in Rabat was AHMAZING.  We really didn’t know what it really consists of, but there was Chicken, veggies, Moroccan spices, and cinnamon and sugar.  I know the cinnamon and sugar sounds a bit different, but it literally made the dish.  It was only a preview to the amazing food we would be eating through the whole trip.  Moroccans eat a lot of fresh veggies and fruit.  Of course they love their pastries and tarts, and I do too!  There were a lot “hotdishes” that included couscous, veggies, chicken, and spices.  YUM.  No worries friends, I eat for fun, not for fuel, so I defs tried everything.

delicious-ness

delicious-ness

Then we headed to Fez for the night before we set out for the SAHARA DESERT.  You are probably wondering how we got the Sahara, here you go:

Bus to the city of Xaluca-> 4×4 jeeps with some crazy Berbers-> CAMELS to the Desert Oasis

Before I hop into my adventures in the desert, I should explain the interesting discoveries we ran into on our way there.  We called this day the day of four seasons…Keep this in mind: when we left Fez it was fall-like weather for Morocco.

BEGINNING OF WINTER:  I didn't come all the way to Morocco for this.

BEGINNING OF WINTER: I didn’t come all the way to Morocco for this.

This town is called little Swisa (Little Switzerland).  It snows here (ew) and there is a heavy Swiss influence on the town (this photo is an example of the influence!).

WINTER: This town is called little Swisa (Little Switzerland). It snows here (ew) and there is a heavy Swiss influence on the town (this photo is an example of the influence!).

WINTER:  Surprise!  MONKEYS!  These little guys just love hanging out in the forest...wait, something's wrong with that.

WINTER: Surprise! MONKEYS! These little guys just love hanging out in the forest…wait, something’s wrong with that.

380347_10151329397271696_1359224756_n

SPRING: Lunch stop in the Mid Atlas mountains in a town called Midelt. Here are some great girls from my Teach Abroad program and our amazing bus driver!

SUMMER: Deserito Sahara

SUMMER: Deserito Sahara

 

Anyways…back to the camels…YES, CAMELS.  I RODE A CAMEL IN THE SAHARA DESERT.  Actually I rode two camels, but who is really counting!  We stayed in a tradition Berber (And just so you all know, I’m not mistaking Berber for BARBER) camp for the night were we got to experience traditional Moroccan/Berber food, traditional Berber music (Shakira and Gangam Style may have been mashed in…), and BERBERS THEMSELVES.  Again, never would I think I would be hanging with some Berbers in da desert.  NEVER.

On top of the world.

On top of the world.

Aladdin is that you?

Aladdin is that you?

Good morning Sahara Desert!  One of the most beautiful things I have seen.

Good morning Sahara Desert! One of the most beautiful things I have seen.

STOP.  Camel time.

STOP. Camel time.

That is our oasis camp down below.

That is our oasis camp down below.

DSC01927

Sombras de los camellos

After an amazing night under the stars we packed up our camels and headed to our desert hotel!  En serio, it’s like we are riding through sand dunes with our Berber friends singing “Waka Waka by Shakira” and BAM there is the hotel.  We got to spend the day in the nearby Berber village and hanging out in the dunes.  It was honestly the perfect day.  I kept reminding myself that:

A.  This is REAL life.

B.  This is MY life.

C.  I freaking love the desert, berbers, camels, and riding camels through the desert while hanging out with Berbers.

Sand dunes during the sunrise.

Sand dunes during the sunrise.

It wouldn’t be an authentic end to the desert without one last ride with Loco (our Berber friend) in the 4×4 through the desert.  No pasa nada amigos (no worries friends), Loco is my first and real Berber friend.  He was a great insight to the traditional Berber life in the Sahara Desert.  If you don’t know, Berbers are a group of Arabic people who live in the Northern regions of Africa.  Back in the day, Berbers were nomadic people.  Which means they travel with their animals throughout the desert for them to feed.  Ahora (now), many have built homes in villages throughout the desert and have become stationary nomades (the desert is full of paradoxes).  These villages are fully functioning, with “electricity” and water wells for water.  Many of the Berbers have their own shops and businesses (for example:  Berber leather and Berber woven cloths!).

BERBER CLOTH.

BERBER CLOTH.

What up Berber village.  All of the buildings are made out of dirt, water, grasses, and possible camel dung...

What up Berber village. All of the buildings are made out of dirt, water, grasses, and possible camel dung…

The craziest of all Berbers, Loco.  He has an old school mobile friends, so don't worry the next time I'm in town I will be calling him up!  He also gave me his bands CD so now we can all enjoy traditional Berber music!

The craziest of all Berbers, Loco. He has an old school mobile friends, so don’t worry the next time I’m in town I will be calling him up! He also gave me his bands CD so now we can all enjoy traditional Berber music!

The last lag of our adventure we traveled back to Fez to do some shopping (CLARO!).  We hit up the old Medina of the town, which is very similar to the old historical part of the town.  In this area is a market area that has all the traditional Moroccan items such as leather goods, spices, herbal medicines, food, cloths, etc.  Our group got to tour a lot of shops while we were there.  The most interesting was the Tannery, where leather is made.  It smelled terrible (so terrible that they gave us mint to smell), but it was such an interesting process to learn.  In this area in the back there are many tubs of chemicals that are used to treat different animal skins.  Each worker is trained in one step of the leather making process, and is paid based on the number of leathers they make.  To make a leather jacket we found out it could take 3 to 5 days to complete the whole process.

Da Medina of Fez

Da Medina of Fez

Most of the people in Morocco practice the Islamic faith.  This window is made so that women can look out the window and see the street, but people on the street can't see her.  Remember, women don't need to be covered while in the house.

Most of the people in Morocco practice the Islamic faith. This window is made so that women can look out the window and see the street, but people on the street can’t see her. Remember, women don’t need to be covered while in the house.

Working hard!

Working hard!

The darker pools are for the dying process and the white pools are the chemicals that strip the furs of hair and stuff.

The darker pools are for the dying process and the white pools are the chemicals that strip the furs of hair and stuff.

Hand dyed and hand woven cloths such as table cloths, scarves, and curtains are very popular in Morocco.

Hand dyed and hand woven cloths such as table cloths, scarves, and curtains are very popular in Morocco.

The pharmacy.  Here you can purchase herbal medicine that can cure anything.  Literally.  The only diseases that their meds can't cure are AIDS and Cancer.

The pharmacy. Here you can purchase herbal medicine that can cure anything. Literally. The only diseases that their meds can’t cure are AIDS and Cancer.

By the end of my trip I was exhausted, yet so happy.  This was a trip of a lifetime where I got to experience many things that I will never ever get the chance to do again.  I got to witness many different cultures and their traditions that will stick with me for the rest of my life.  And let’s be real, I have never valued clean tap water more so than I do now.  How many people can say that they have been to the Sahara Desert and back?

Now I’m back to reality, wrapping things up before Christmas.  I’m currently teaching all of my 6th level students “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” for the school Christmas program…it has been very entertaining teaching them how to pronounce “Boughs of holly.”  I’m also in charge of creating dance moves as well…OI VEY.

You all are also probably wondering where I could POSSIBLY be traveling to, so here is the line up for Christmas:

December 21st-December 26th-Galway and Dublin, Ireland

December 26th to December 30th-Budapest, Hungary

December 31st- January 3rd-Prague, Czech Republic

I hope you all have a great holiday and happy New Year!  Hasta Luego!

African sunset.

African sunset.

8 thoughts on “WAHA! Camel time.

  1. Susan Mocsny Thomas, RNC-OB says:

    En serio, Amy, your life makes me wishing I was your age again so I could live your life! Felicidades en sus viajes!

  2. Cathy Mischuck says:

    That’s so very awesome, Amy!!! What an experience…and thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Cathy….one of your mom’s “40 something” friend!
    P.S. Both of my kids have been to Prague and loved it.

    • Are you talking about computers? I didn’t bring my computer, but I had my phone and I had zero problems with hackers. I would suggest maybe not bringing your computer if you don’t have to…and just take the same precautions as you would in any other country. I never felt unsafe but I did make sure to keep my personal bag close to me.

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