“They told us that they were actually going to the desert in two days time to stay at a small hotel one of their cousins worked at. They planned to go out on camels, visit Bedouin settlements in the middle of the desert, sleep under the stars and eat lovely traditional food.”
One of my favourite places in the world is Morocco. Colourful, inspiring, magical. A few years ago, my best friend Federika and I travelled around Morocco for a month. As two fair-skinned girls exploring a Muslim country during Ramadan, we knew we would attract some attention.
On our first day in Fez, we got lost with all our luggage and got harassed by some local men, which left me feeling a little unnerved.
Later that evening, we met two Moroccan men in a shisha bar; they were friendly and interesting and spoke excellent English. We got talking about all our travel plans, and we asked their advice on going into the Sahara Desert. They told us that they were actually going to the desert in two days to stay at a small hotel where one of their cousins worked. They planned to go out on camels, visit Bedouin settlements in the middle of the desert, sleep under the stars, and eat lovely traditional food.
It all sounded like a Moroccan dream, but when they invited us to join them, I couldn’t help but feel untrusting of these young men we didn't know. I tried to remain open-minded, and at some point throughout the evening, a wife of one of the men turned up – a redhead with a strong Scottish accent. I got on well with her immediately and felt comfortable in the whole group’s company. We took their details at the end of the evening, and they said if we did want to go with them to the Sahara for four days, they would organise for us to join them, and we would be leaving not tomorrow but the following morning at 4.30am.
Maybe it was me being untrusting and paranoid, but I couldn't believe that people would go out of their way to selflessly take us with them on their Eid al-Fitr holiday trip without wanting something in return. My friend and I checked the hotel name and organisation names they'd given us, and they all checked out.
We decided to trust these young, like-minded and seemingly caring people and go on the trip. As it turned out, they truly were the most friendly, selfless people. Those four days were some of the most magical, unbelievable experiences of my life.
Riding camelback through the desert at night with only the Milky Way and shooting stars to light the way, we eventually stopped at a row of Bedouin tents in the middle of nowhere. We let the camels run around, ate some tagine cooked on a campfire, and then rode the camels back to the sand-castle looking hotel as the sun was rising. The Moroccan men there taught us some Arabic, traditional songs, and how to play instruments during the day while we stayed inside to avoid the 52-degree midday sun.
It was a real insight into Moroccan culture without being surrounded by other tourists and something I never thought I'd experience. The lesson I took from this part of my travels was that even though I will always be cautious and careful when travelling, especially as a woman, sometimes if you don't trust anyone, you can miss out on experiences that could be the best of your life – experiences that really make you feel ALIVE! Keep that line between caution and trust strong, but be open, and make intelligent but adventurous decisions!
Author - Jodie Kay
Jodie Kay is from the United Kingdom. Eventually, she aims to travel the world and incorporate her work of helping those with mental challenges, with art. Jodie can be contacted on her Facebook page.
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