I used to find it really tough when Flint spent long periods of time away from home, be that in the UK or abroad. Initially when he was working overseas I would just stay at home worrying and looking forward to intermittent phone calls and texts to know he was ok.
In September 2013, however, I decided to join him and go along on a trip. The plan was to go to Morocco, initially stay in Marakesh, and then travel on to the Sahara Desert.
I knew the trip was going to take me outside of my comfort zone, especially when I was told about the camel spiders, scorpions and snakes. In preparation I needed to buy some really light cotton clothing and some proper boots that went above my ankle (to protect from nasty bites), a hat, lots of sun cream, sunglasses, etc.
Fortunately, Flint is ŵell versed in this survival stuff so he leant me a roll mat, a torch, a backpack, a sleeping bag, a bowl, mug, fork and spoon and all manner of other bits.
When we first arrived in Marakesh we took in the sights, visited the souks and all the standard tourist bits. Then there were the tanneries which Flint was very interested in and they are smelly let me tell you!
It is basically a huge area of bird and animal poo – yes poo. I can’t remember the details (I think I repressed them in my own mind) but this is how they colour animal skin for using in textiles. Always wanting to make the most out of a situation I got myself a lovely travel bag 🙂
This bag will forever be known as ‘smelly bag’ for obvious reasons although the stench has disappeared now!
After the gentle intro in Marakesh the trip really started. The group was all men including the instructors and the local guides so that felt a little strange initially. However, you soon forget when you get outside of ‘civilisation’.
The first night after leaving Marakesh we wild camped in our tents in the Atlas Mountains. It was very cold and windy so I have to say it took me by surprise and I was wearing all my packed clothes immediately!
Over the next couple of days we travelled to the edges of the desert and I learned about various survival things like signalling for help if your car broke down in the desert (with mirrors, with foil blankets, with the vehicle itself and tons more).
The views in this place were amazing and pretty humbling too.
When we got further into the dunes we had to stop at a well to collect water for our trip. This then had to be filtered before it was safe to drink.
Settling into the desert I couldn’t get over how big the sand dunes were. They are literally like mountains in their own right with huge valleys in between.
Flint and I had a great time one night heading off to one of the bigger dunes and the climb to the top took us about 2hrs. It was still really hot even though it was so late and there wasn’t even a breath of air, the whole place was still and silent – it didn’t feel real.
At points the experience was quite unnerving especially when we could feel the dune vibrating underneath our feet and making this eerie sound. We have discovered since that this is a well known but unusual phenomenon called singing sand dunes.
The coolest part was setting our alarm and waking up at the top of this dune just in time to watch the moon set in the west and the sun rise in the east. Pretty magical and something we will never forget.
During our trip I learned some different fire lighting techniques, we tried some ways of collecting water, and also spotted the odd scorpion. I didn’t see any camel spiders thank goodness!
You might be wondering how we showered whilst out in the desert for 9 days?? It was HOT!!!
The treat of the trip was this… A shower, water in a bag which had warmed in the sun and then hung from an acacia tree. Honestly the best shower of my life looking out over the desert with not a single person, building, telegraph wire, animal or sign of company in sight. AMAZING!!!