What You See:
4 hour train ride from Rabat to Marrakech. A sandwich for lunch on the train that’s a roll with a few slices of cheese. A Parisian riad manager named Laurent who describes the Marrakech market and square environment as a theater performance. Mint tea. A dip in the pool of the riad with a cool glass of white wine. Being shouted at from various market stalls in the square, asking if I’m American and do I want to look at this or guess what spice this is pretty lady? Dinner at a local food stall that says it’s beef but I’m not so sure.
Spending a full 10 hours riding in a car before we even arrive at the camels. Stopping for lunch – cous cous and tajine. Taking 112 naps in three hours, drowsy on anti-nausea medication. Sitting in the middle seat and physically leaning on my friends as we go through the switchbacks up and down the mountain. Hopping onto the camel, assessing its health and if it is being treated properly. Smiling and naming my camel Henry. Realizing immediately that the way camels walk is not convenient for riding. In a moderate amount of pain. Laughing out loud the entire ride because it’s so bumpy and everyone is laughing and trying to hold on and I can’t believe this is my life. Trying to take pictures of everyone while they aren’t taking pictures of everyone else.
Arriving at our tents and realizing how sweaty and dirty I am and how much camel poop I’ve stepped in. Eating dinner (tajine again but this time it’s wonderful). Seeing some stray cats and trying to feed them the tajine. Getting to know our tour guide, Said, over wine and hookah. Telling riddles around an unlit campfire.
Lying on a dirty outdoor couch, looking up at the moon with drums playing in my ears trying to soak in every moment.
Falling asleep on said dirty outdoor couch and waking up while it’s still dark. Walking up a huge dune to watch the sunrise but realizing there’s too much haze and fog and all of a sudden it was light and we missed it. Agonizing over our soreness and chafing and whatever else was going on down there. Discussing the proper undergarments for camel riding and how that is definitely NOT a thong. Riding a camel again that morning anyway. Back in the car for the entire day. Trying to locate a restaurant in Marrakech that doesn’t serve Moroccan food because all we’ve had the past two weeks is cous cous, tajine, and pizza. Getting a private room at an Italian restaurant and devouring wine and linguine and more wine. Sitting in a thick cotton hotel robe and discussing how much we’ve seen and how much we could continue to see. Talking about what the hell we were gonna do when this year is over. Having no answers but acknowledging that that’s okay.
You don’t see this in pictures. You see me smile, you see a camel. I’m okay with that. Just know: behind my smile is always a backstory – sometimes joy, sometimes pain, and sometimes a little camel poop.