In sync with sand

Sahara Sunset
Sahara sunset | Photo by Lauren Girardin

Sometimes your love for a place comes on as hard and fast as food-poisoning. Other times, a place is forgettably bland, bringing on neither bitter aversion or the sweet desire to return. Then there are places of which you can’t wait to wash your hands, where no matter how hard you try, you feel utterly out of sync.

Before we left on our round-the-world trip, more than a few people asked me and Todd, “Why Morocco?” During our time in this North African country, we’ve often asked the same question of ourselves.

We finally synced with Morocco in the Erg Chebbi dunes of the Sahara desert near Merzouga, a place that reminded us that we are on an adventure, even if it’s sold as a package tour.

Work it | Photo by Lauren Girardin

I’ve vented copious notes into my journal about what I don’t like about Morocco. I could, in my New-York-raised-way, kvetch about women squatting to wash raw meat just yards upriver from a popular spring-fed swimming hole; battered, weeping kittens and mummified cat corpses; the thousands of ever-present flies that swarm around us and on unrefrigerated meat; public nose picking; dozens of men with the sacred gift of leisure time sitting unsmiling and uninspired at café after café; getting yelled at when politely brushing off a tout with a simple “no, merci”; being treated like a walking ATM –

Our silhouettes, Sahara Desert, Morocco
Our silhouettes | Photo by Lauren Girardin

See? There I go!

What I will instead try to take with me from Morocco is something that can’t be scribbled into my pocket-sized Moleskine or captured in pixels by my camera. It’s the sudden knowing of the age of the Earth when I’m confronted by geological oddity and grandeur. It’s how the desert air greedily wicks the sparse moisture from my teeth as I smile, involuntarily, at the sunset. It’s the sensation of walking barefoot on still-warm sand as I climb a steep dune to get a little closer to the midnight moon.

Photos from Sahara Desert, Morocco (Part 2)

If you can’t see the photo slide show above, view the photo set on Flickr.