Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Morocco Day 2 - Camel Ride!!!

After the walking tour of Marrakesh we were once again let loose in the market for a couple hours to shop and find lunch.  By bartering skills had definitely improved from yesterday and as we left the market to find some lunch on our way back to the hotel it once again began to downpour.  We had already bought some bread (each loaf for only 10 Durham – about 1 Euro) and then jumped into the nearest store to escape the torrential rain…that happened to be selling dried fruits and nuts, so we completed our lunch with those.  When the rain let up a little we braved the walk back to the hotel and were just in time for our CAMEL RIDE!!!

After a 20-30 minute drive outside of Marrakesh (which we all felt very lucky to survive considering the lines on the road seem to be just guidelines and we nearly had two head on collisions) we arrived at the stables.  Luckily it had stopped raining for our adventure on the camels and we were all happy that our group leader (Kepa) bartered the price down to 200 Durham (it had initially been 270 Durham).  As the camels were walked out of the stables I was shocked at how big they actually were in person and even more surprised that they could carry so much weight with such skinny legs.  After the initial excitement of riding a camel in Africa had subsided, I realized how uncomfortable the camel actually was and the thought of being on the camel for two hours was not exciting.  In addition to our caravan of camels there was a five-month-old baby camel whose mom was in the group and tagged along the whole way!  I also got to practice some of my remedial French skills with our guide who spoke five different languages (however English or Spanish was not one of them).  I learned that there is a town close to Marrakesh where many historical movies are filmed (like Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven) and our guide was a stunt double that rode the horses in the movies if the actor couldn’t.  We rode for about an hour to a house to have tea and bread and on the way passed through a small village where children were running around along with chickens, cats, and dogs.  It was a very uncomfortable experience riding high up on the camels and having everyone in the town looking up at you with envy (I’m not sure if envy is the right word, but I felt I had been put up on a pedestal that I didn’t want to be on).  At the teahouse we had the traditional Moroccan minty green tea along with bread, oil, and olives while sitting on embroidered floor cushions.  During the ride back our guide jumped up onto one of the vacant camels from the ground (very impressive considering the camel towered over him) and when the last camel in our caravan became detached he did a back flip to dismount the camel.  When we got off the camels (probably the scariest part since they kneel down with there front legs first and then the back legs rather than all at once), we were all super sore and could barely walk to the vans and as we drove back to the hotel we were informed that we technically hadn’t ridden camels, they had been dromedaries (same family, but I guess camels have two humps and dromedaries have one).

5 month old baby camel.

Me on my camel.

House where we stopped for tea.

Pouring tea.

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