Around these parts there is one trip you absolutely have to take before departing post: the Sahara desert. It is an arduous journey out to the border of Morocco/Algeria, but one that many families rate as their favorite...especially ones with children.
Ami D (Joe's mom) came to visit and we knew we had to take her with us, along with our traveling/daily life buddies the Stephensons.
Everything ready to go, from G's toy cupcakes to his travel potty.
As I've mentioned before, no African road trip is complete without some sort of drama. Our first (and most serious) incident came at about the 2 hour mark when J had the El Hajeb throwing up incident of 2013 (not to be confused with the Belgian train throwing up incident of 2012). It was an amazing amount that took 5 adults to clean up.
That's little J in the background naked on the city street after being stripped of sick clothes.
Feeling much better later.
In reality, it's more like this:
Cool, lush, and you can hear the river in the background. The inn was run by a woman and her mother and brother.
She was kind, beautiful, hard-working, and the only woman in the village that would let us take her picture.
The puke laundry after the above-mentioned woman insisted on scrubbing it out herself. Amazing.
We had the place to ourselves, which was pretty sweet, especially for the kids.
The mother sat at her loom in the main room weaving carpets all day. Sadly, they were already sold. She let Ami D and Mary help her for a little while.
The next afternoon we drove 2 hours to our final destination.
We're well into the desert by now, and this is what the road looked like when we turned off the "highway".
Not very promising.
Getting closer. The road was so rough, that we were shocked at this point that we hadn't dropped a transmission/hubcaps/our teeth. Extra points to Matt Stephenson who drove it in a Corolla.
We finally made it to our destination: Kasbah Yasmina. It took about 45 minutes to drive 15km.
Upon arrival, Joe and Ami D decided they would leave for an overnight excursion deeper into the desert. With G. Personally, I thought they had just signed their death warrant, but they were thrilled.
To reach the campsite you had to spend an hour and a half on a camel. I just knew G would spend 10 minutes on that camel and be done. But he did great!
And then he really loved the camel and had to lead them around "by himself".
The campsite. When they arrived G jumped down and just ran and ran, climbed, jumped and tumbled all over the dunes. If there was ever a boy that loved the desert, it's this one. He was so tired, he put himself to bed that night.
Ami D and Joe watching the sunrise.
Hurry! Little boy is awake and screaming in the tent.
G's new BFF, the overnight guide, Said. The feeling was mutual.
And they returned in one piece, loving every minute. Especially G.
The main part of the day in the desert must be spent inside or in the shade, so we let the kids watch videos and run around by the pool.
I should note here that the 3 toddlers of the group have NOT been getting along as of late. No one is especially to blame- everyone is in the wrong. Here, Carolyn is antagonizing G, while he shouts "NO!!" We're working everyday on saying,"No thank you, Carolyn" in a kind voice.
Just love this picture of Ami D.
Around 5pm we went back out on the sand. Here, all the guides are waiting to take their charges out overnight.
The sand monkey. Never happier.
Trying to get up a steep dune with J.
The dunes were absolutely breathtaking. They are 150m in height and made of very fine sand.
The other part of our crew.
Mary and I
Family photos- super easy.
At the end of the evening, Matt and I decided to take Carolyn and J on their own short camel ride. So glad we did- they loved it!!
J got up there like a pro, grabbed the bar and held on like he did this everyday. Never hesitated or grabbed for Mommy.
The next morning we were on the road at 8am for the 10.5 hour drive back to Rabat. I am sorry to tell you that the other major road trip incident is at this point an unspeakable act. But ask me a year from now, and I may be ready to share.
All in all, it was a great trip. No, we couldn't brush our teeth with the water in the hotel rooms. Yes, we had to use squatty potties on the road trip. No, small towns in Morocco don't turn on stoplights and/or ATMs on Sundays. Yes, we had a difficult time finding food/snacks to supplement our own on the drive. (We take a lot of things for granted in the States).
HOWEVER, we saw a piece of the largest, hottest desert in the world (besides the Arctic and Antartica) with lots of good times and laughs along the way. It should also be noted that G cried big, big tears when we left.
Ami D, you are THE best sport. We couldn't have done it without you. Miss you already!