Les Nomades Sahara Night

April 07, 2007


If you want an extraordinary experience in the Sahara, then by all means contact Alessandra of Les Nomades:

I can not even begin to tell you how wonderful she made our experience in the desert and she even helped with our transportation from Fez and to Marrakech (eight and ten hours from these Merzouga dunes). In fact, she and our time in the Sahara was the highlight of the trip and it started being terrific when I found her online and just got better and better from there.

Travel in the Sahara has an almost mystic place in every school child’s imagination and we wanted to do this well. It is a little like taking a trip to the moon, a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I wanted to do it well and get the most out of it.

I found Les Nomades through John Sakura who is from Portugal and a world traveler (and artist) with extensive experience in Morocco for many years and with many pages on Morocco in Virtual Tourist. He is terrific and he praised her and the tour highly as the best in the Sahara and he was right!

There was still some daylight when we arrived and Mozart was thrilled to be in the biggest sandbox in the world. The berber tents were nestled in a bowl shape oasis with some very high dunes next to it. As soon as she got off her camel Mozart started running up the biggest dune.

Trust me, this is not easy and I had a much harder time just walking around in the flat sand as one sinks down with every step and it is much worse than regular sand at a beach. Luckily, she has boundless energy and continued running up and sliding down this huge dune over and over. Now I know what is a six year old’s idea of fun in the Sahara! Even Alessandra was surprised at her energy and determination.

She was having a ball and eventually got her father to climb up with her. I have read about other visitors not being able to get up dunes, (since it is a one step forward, three steps back kind of process against gravity) so I was impressed to see my 54 year old husband make it to the top. It was much more effort than he expected since he is in great shape from our endless village stairs, but the stairs now actually seemed easy next to this climb.

They did look like they were having fun running down and and sliding down the dune on their bums and getting the birds eye view at the top. I was content to be lounging lazily in one of the cozy Berber tents and taking photos with my zoom lens. They had a group of tents with rugs in the middle which made it much easier to walk in that zone. They also had a kitchen tent set up at a little distance and a bathroom tent up a smaller hill and away from the camp.

When DaVinci and Mozart got done playing, they joined me and Alessandra brought us a lovely silver urn and bowl set-up full of warm water with fresh towels and later Hmad or one of the nomads brought some mint tea and yummy snacks. It felt good to wash off some of the desert and we were feeling very comfortable living out the nomad fantasy. We just relaxed, chatted with them some and together and soaked in the atmosphere.

It got a chilly once the sun went down and they brought us some nice warm blankets to wrap around us. Hmad is a great cook and he was cooking a chicken tagine over a warm wood fire and it smelled good. We were comfortably leaning on some pretty pillows and they brought a small table with lovely Moroccan pottery and cloth napkins. All the attention to detail that Alessandra, Hmad and their crew of two (there are more of them than us!) put into everything and their generous and kind ways enfold us in an intimate cocoon.

The meal was one of the best we had in Morocco. It started with a delectable soup, then had some great warm bread to go with the chicken tagine which was filled with vegetables, couscous and followed by luscious hot caramelized bananas for desert. We gave them quite a few food restrictions, yet they still managed to come up with such a great dinner which surprised me.

The clear night sky and awesome stars in the Sahara are stupendous and worth the trip alone. I have seen lots of great places for star gazing like over night-ing in a yacht in open sea and even our last home was a fantastic, pristine spot, but we were blown away as I have never seen stars so brilliant. We counted falling stars and hunted down constellations with ease. The deep silence was precious.

Mozart’s energy had quickly moved to her second speed of off and she was nodding and we all suddenly realized that we were tired. We had all woken up early with the excitement of the concert and all at once we were like a balloon that has been popped, suddenly too pooped to participate. We were going to get into the music and drumming of the desert people, but were just too tired.

There were a bunch of large tents in this wilderness circlet and we ate in one while they prepared our bedroom for the night. Due to my mobility challenges, Alessandra set up an over night bathroom for us (out of a large urn) in a tent next to the bedroom one, in case we got up in the middle of the night and that turned out to be a blessing. I have read about so many people going behind a bush while on desert treks and that did not sound pleasant to me.

There was some Arabian night’s magic in the air when we entered our warm Bedouin boudoir which looked very beautiful and even had a Moroccan styled canopy. They tuck it in tight so that no sand gets into the good cotton sheets and the blankets are very warm and the mattress was very comfortable. They had warmed the room up with a small gas stove and lantern thing that we were to remove before going to sleep. They set up a sweet bed for Mozart, right next to ours, although she ended up trading that one with her father as she is a mama’s girl who is used to falling asleep wrapped in my arms.

They were both instantly asleep and I laid in the silence of the still Sahara night and thought about how grateful I was for this experience and for the wonderfully kind people who fill our lives. I was very moved by the graciousness of our hosts and the sweetness and purity of Alessandra.

I thought about our friends in Malaga, our village, our families and loved ones and was just overwhelmed with emotion and deep, deep gratitude. I thought of all the wonderful people that we have met on or through this trip and my heart was just so full. It has been as if God has just been bringing us one gift after another from the man who brought us a whole bucket of shampoo and such in the Netherlands that we are still using to Alessandra, Hmad and their darling baby Djou. The Sahara is hallowed as a sacred, cleansing place by some and I certainly felt that.

I think I went to sleep after everyone and I woke up first long before sunrise. I had slept well and appreciated the peace and profound silence of the desert. It was light enough that the stars were hidden now, but I could enjoy looking at the crescent moon still visible, when I made my way out of the tent to greet the morning.

Soon everyone was up to make sure we did not miss the famous sunrise in the Sahara before breakfast. Mozart, DaVinci and I climbed to the top of one of the smaller hills. Mozart went up and down a few times while I slowly trudged along. It was a divine sight watching it rise against the great dunes and an inspiring way to start the day. We walked around and did some exploring, playing and watched some big beetles in the sand and the camel chomp on his food.

We were served a delightful big, healthy breakfast with place mats, linen napkins and all. There were eggs, cheese, yogurt, cakes, bread, jam and fruit and yummy hot chocolate and coffee. We enjoyed it and just had a good time visiting with them too as they were beginning to feel like family.

Mozart had really liked the looks of my dune buggy and wanted a ride, so when my quad showed up to pick me up, she got to do a little spin around our Berber camp. She looked like she enjoyed it as much as I did. She had lots of fun running and playing with everyone and checking out the kitchen and pouring tea too.

So I said my good-byes and headed off into the brilliant day to play one last time on these golden waves of the Erg Chebbi. There was more joy to be had and I wanted to remember this forever. I got to take a nice snuggle-y nap in the hotel room while they took the slow loping camel ride one last time to say their good byes to the Sahara. One is never quite the same after a night in the Sahara.













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