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Adventures in Morocco: Day 5

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Camel ride into the desert as the sun was beginning to set
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Art by Teagan Burns/Collegiate Graphic Design & Layout Editor

Story & Photos by Jacquelyn Zeman

From May 18 to 30, a delegation of nine students and four professors from Grand Rapids Community College traveled approximately 4,146 miles to Morocco. Collegiate News Editor Jacquelyn Zeman went on the trip and documented the experience each day. Read on for her photo-illustrated travelogue, and her updated introduction post to her trip right here. For a day by day look back at Morocco, follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @jacquelynzeman. 

May 23 – Day 5

City: Erfoud/Sahara Desert

This was the day I was anticipating more than anything else throughout our trip: the day we were to ride camels into and spend the night in the Sahara Desert.

That morning was quite relaxing. Most mornings on our trip I had to wake up around 7 a.m. – that mixed with the time change was exhausting. We did not even leave our hotel until well into the afternoon.

Before we headed out to the Sahara, we stopped at a fossil co-op. At the fossil co-op, they sell exactly what you think: fossils. They also sell tables and fountains with fossils in them, necklaces made of fossils, and figurines with fossils in them, and so on. While I did not purchase anything, many ladies on our trip purchased jewelry there.

Our adventure in the Sahara started out with a fast ride into the desert to get to the inn where we would wait. Our group divided into three different jeeps, and headed out. We took the main road for a little bit, then swerved suddenly off the main road. For the next couple miles we drove on a very rocky part of the Sahara. Slowly, the desert came into view. It looked like someone dumped a bunch of sand in the middle of the rocks.

At the inn, we rested for several hours, and prepared for our ride through the Sahara.

When the sun began to set (around 6 p.m.) we were taken to a group of camels that we would ride.

Everyone in our group was matched up to a camel based on our height. We weren’t given much instruction for riding. The men helping us just told us to sit on the camel. The camels sat while we were getting on them, and we rode on blankets, similar to a saddle, between their hump.

Riding the camel for the first 30 minutes was quite fun. After that, my knees started to hurt. This happened to several other people in our group, and many of us would change the way we sat every 15 minutes.

About 90 minutes into our ride, the camels stopped, and we all got off. Our group ran to the top of the sand dune that was closest to us. Together, we watched the last of the sun go down. The actual sand in the Sahara was more red than any other sand I had seen before. As the sun set, the light from the sun reflected off of the sand very brightly. As it set for good, the whole Sahara became quite dark very quickly.

After the sunset, we got back on our camels and rode for a little while longer to get to our camp for the night. We ate dinner in the dark at a long table on the ground set up outside of our tents. After eating, we climbed part way up the sand dune that was right next to our tents to stargaze.

The stars in Morocco look so much different than what they do in the U.S. I was able to see a few planets, and quite a few shooting stars that night because of how much of the sky I could actually see out there.