We started by having our heads wrapped in a traditional turban. The turban offered protection from the sand and upped the cool factor by at least one hundred.
This is Carrie. She is a Fulbright teacher from Heber, Utah. Carrie rocks. Carrie also "agreed" to be my model for a photo series on how to wrap a turban (by agreed I mean that she didn't run away while I was taking the photos. Also, she knows that I am a blogger, implying implicit consent).
The turban wrapping was provided by Youssef.
Youssef wrapped the turban around Carrie's head, and, um, then he twisted it...
Then he, uh, wrapped the twisted part behind her head...
And, um, tucked it in, or something...
Then kept twisting and wrapping in a very turban-like fashion...
Before, uh, tucking the end of the turban underneath, the, um, twisted part...
Okay, so that didn't quite end up being the informative how-to piece I had envisioned (even Carrie looks annoyed in this picture- and she's an incredibly positive person). Maybe you can figure out how to tie a turban by looking at the pictures or something (is tie even the right verb to use? I really have no idea...).
The end result left us looking authentically touristic and ready to ride our camels!!!
This is our guide leading the camels to us. We considered ourselves very fortunate to have a private guide (as opposed to traipsing around with forty fanny-pack-wearing tourists).
This is Carrie and me greeting our camels. I knew the dark one was meant for me because he (or she?) was loud as soon as they arrived.
Getting on the camel while it was on the ground was pretty easy, and I was pretty much feeling like a pro-spectacular-fessional...
then the camel started to stand up, and I had to hold on to the little tourist bar pretty tightly. (You will notice that I managed to continue looking at and posing for the camera, despite almost falling off my camel. I am amazing. Also, I am pretty sure that I was smiling underneath my turban, even though my mouth was covered.)
Carrie and I both made it safely through the standing up process, and I was able to continue my blatant posing. (Hey Brahim!!! Thanks for taking the pictures of my camel mounting!)
If I looked down, this was my view. You may not be able to tell, but our guide was BAREFOOT! He started out wearing Tevas (hahaha), but took them off a few minutes into the journey. (Fun fact: he just left the sandals in the sand. He picked them up on our way back to the kasbah).
If you think that I got tired of looking at the sand dunes, you would be WRONG! I can't really describe why the view of the dunes was so mesmerizing, but it was. The coolest part was that we didn't see anyone else. It was almost like we had the desert to ourselves.
We stopped halfway through journey to eat lunch at this oasis.
In order for us to dismount, the camels sat down for us. This prompted Carrie and I both to again use the little tourist bar. (See that white bag. We're pretty sure our lunch was in there.)
Dismount was 100% successful.
The camels took a well-deserved rest.
And I was able to get this close up of Carrie's camel.
I took the opportunity to pose, yet again, with my camel (notice the ring in his nose? I tried not to look at it).
This was our lunch. The bread was yummy and soft. The cheese was French. The salad was full of sardines and eggs. Turns out, I like fresh sardines. Is that weird?
After lunch we climbed a humongous sand dune. Our guide climbed up like it was nothing. I almost died. I'm serious. My thoughts about climbing the dune can be summed up in two sentences:
1. I am ridiculously out of shape.
2. Maybe I should work out or something.
Embarrassingly, I had to crawl in order to make it up to the top. But, I did it.
And I was rewarded with this view. Nice, eh?
I also got to take a picture of my feet in the sands of a Saharan dune!
Here's a view of the oasis. The tents are for people who go on overnight camel rides. Those people are very cool. (Hey Steve! Wanna go camping in the Sahara with me?)
Here are the triumphant dune climbers (although, Carrie was significantly more triumphant than me because she wasn't heaving like an asthmatic bovine).
Carrie at the top of the dune.
Me at the top of the dune. (Gee whiz, what would it be like if my camera weren't full of cheese-a-riffic photographs?)
We walked along the crest of the dune, causing little sand avalanches like this.
Then we were introduced to Berber skiing. Our guide grabbed my left ankle and Carrie's right ankle. Then he dragged us down the dune. (Is it just me, or do both of our feet look strikingly white?) It was fun. I shrieked the whole time (shocker).
This was our guide's face during the Berber skiing. I wonder if he likes this part of his job...
We ended our Berber skiing experience halfway down the dune. Then we ran the rest of the way down. It was fun. My body was kind of stretched between the force pulling down the dune and my weight causing me to sink into the sand. I also managed to get sand in just about every crevice of my jeans and into the chapstick that was in my pocket. The above picture shows the footprints I made in the dune.
We saw more fantastic views on the way back. (If you look closely you can see four-wheeler tracks.)
We arrived back at our kasbah a little bit tired, a lot sandy, and very happy.