While we were planning our trip to Morocco, I stumbled on some information about a tour that went through the south of the country reaching the Sahara desert. I wanted to go, and Haiko agreed to it immediately; after all, he had already been on a desert safari (in the Thar desert between India and Pakistan) and had loved it. I was a bit apprehensive about it, because it was the end of the summer, the heat was certain, and the desert is a place from which most people run away. To spend numerous hours on a camel didn’t sound very comfortable either, and if we were to regret it, once in the middle of the desert there would be no way back.
So, in the first 3 days in Marrakech, we went around asking everyone we encountered about the trip. We heard everything, from ‘the desert is too hot now, around 48 degrees Celcius…’, and ‘it is really worth it’, to ‘it is tiring’ and ‘‘don’t waste your time”… As you can imagine, these comments did not make it any easier to decide. So when Brahim (Mounia’s husband) finally called from the desert saying it had rained and that it wasn’t so hot anymore, we decided to go.
With everything organized by Brahim, we left on a Monday morning and headed to the south. We, that is Adriana, Haiko, our driver Abdul and I, travelled by 4×4. Once I showed Abdul some interest in his views, he told us basically everything he knew about all places we went. The landscape, the colour of the earth, the wind, the houses, and people all changed along the route. The only thing that always remained the same was our meal options: tagine and/or couscous.
We travelled the whole day, passing numerous little villages. We journeyed through the hardest kinds of lives. Lives that seemed arid, difficult and poetic at the same time. And this, to me, was the greatest dichotomy of all; that so much hardship could be so astonishingly moving, in a beautiful and lyrical sense. A bit like a Salgado
exposition, where one never feels too good for feeling so touched.
The apex of this surrealism happened when we arrived at our riad in Zagora. It was a magnificent place, full of astonishing details, a feeling of Mali in the south of Morocco. It was beauty all around, from the mud coloured walls, the details in every pot, every window, door and corner. We strolled, completely mesmerized, a bit lost, and confused. We walked towards our rooms, but found a pool in the middle of a garden. There, in the middle of sooo much dryness, there was a pool for tourists… And there, in a mix of relief and guilt, we swam. We swam with the moon and stars in the sky at the mouth of the Sahara Desert.