One of my favorite stories comes from the Sahara, of course. After enduring a series of sweltering bus rides, my two classmates and I arrived at the sprawling, scorching, golden dunes characteristic of the Sahara desert. We had each packed two huge water bottles and a change of clothes for our sojourn, to which we clung tightly on the backs of our camels.
I was at the front of my caravan, my light brown camel seemingly ambivalent to the world around it. Our guides were Amazigh, that is, belonging to the native population in the Maghreb, and they had many enchanting stories to tell. I had a powder blue scarf tied securely around my head and across my nose in order to avoid inhaling the ever-shifting sand. I observed the landscape- something I had only seen in pictures and dreamed about up until that point.
In the sky above, foreboding clouds were forming, as dark as the indigo clothing our guides donned. I've always loved thunderstorms, but their power has always frightened me, so I felt a surge of excitement and anxiousness overwhelm me. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and my eyes were glued above as blinding white streaks of lightning propelled angrily across the sky.
Camels are amazing creatures that I admire to no end, but I discovered that they're an ideal seat for watching a storm. Then the rain started falling. In sheets it drenched everything, and the desert seemed to sigh with relief. The air was no longer thick and heavy but rather energized and light. The guide leading me ululated with glee at the sudden hydration, and I basked in the much-needed downpour.
Shortly thereafter, we reached our campsite, just as the storm was intensifying. It turned out to be one of only two times it rained during my stay in Morocco. That night, we dined on warm tajine and unleavened bread made by the men who had led us. They played songs they knew by heart on drums that looked older than the desert itself, and I could've sworn I heard the sand whistling along.
The next morning, I awoke to shouts of "Yallah, yallah!", and we hurriedly mounted our camels. We raced the dawn to a spot on the path that had been deemed perfect for viewing a sunrise, and I watched as the sun peeked over and eventually coated the dunes in a scarlet haze.