Morocco – The Low Down Adventure
It was raining the morning the guide picked us up. Half asleep, I mumbled to Sam that I hoped it wasn’t raining in the desert. The guide chirped that it never rains in the desert. Famous. Last. Words.
The day before, we signed up for a 36-hour adventure – from Marrakech down to Zagora via Ouarzazate with a stop at Ait Ben Haddou (Game of Thrones!). We’d be riding camels off into the sunset to a campsite in the desert. But Mother Nature wasn’t having it. The light rain from the morning quickly turned torrential… and then for four days, it poured nonstop. And for four days we were stuck, with nowhere to go. Our desert trip had gone south. Way south.
Because of the flooding, we had to ride the camels in the night with the rain pounding down on us. We were soaked through, and the camels were sinking deeper and deeper into the sand with every step. That night, after finally making camp, I was woken by rain. The cloth tent wasn’t able to handle the downpour – it tore a hole in the roof right above my face. Everything felt surreal and I couldn’t fully process what was happening. All I knew was that we had to move on – we had to find a way to get out of the flooded region and back to Marrakech. We had to break from the group and set off on our own journey.
The next day was full of more road blocks and driving in circles. Once we got to Ouarzazate and found semi-reliable wifi, we searched for flights. Ouarzazate has a tiny airport with two flights a day, only on Mondays, to Casablanca. We booked the tickets immediately and then booked a ticket onward to Marrakech. Didn’t matter that we’d have to stay a few nights in Ouarzazate – I felt this was our best and safest option of getting back.
What is normally a six-hour drive took us four days and two unplanned flights. When we finally made it back – our flight outta Morocco early the next morning – I knew we had no chance to secure STMT goods if we tried to navigate the intense maze of the souk alone. So I hired a guide to help us navigate the souks, to take us to any and every office-supply shop he could find. Was it cheating? Yes. It’s not how we do – but this sourcing trip, it was what we had to do. By this point in the trip, I’d accepted that I had very little control over this adventure. I was guided through floods, across sinking sand dunes, over dangerous bridges and more by strangers that I blindly trusted. They fought off midnight camel bandits hiding in the pitch-black night (yes, really), they found places for us to sleep, and when my one bag of trail mix that I was rationing with a group of people was almost empty, they found us food. I trusted them.
I lost track of the detours, the stops, the problems we faced and had to overcome. Even with a guide, I’m still not sure how we managed to secure all the amazing goods. It blows my mind that for days, I spent 4:30am to midnight trying to get back home. Can’t help but to feel that we unknowingly signed up for a reality show that’s part Amazing Race, part Survivor. Now where’s the host waiting to award us the prize money for winning?!
Big Souvenir, Sahara. Can’t say it was the best souvenir – but it was most definitely big.