We arrived at the hotel which skirted the desert around lunchtime, dropped our bags off and went for a quick tour before lunch. After lunch some of us swam in the pool or wandered the edge of the Sahara to pass the time. The vastness of it was incredible- really grounding and put things into perspective... It definitely put things into perspective for me, how small I am in this big world and how much is out there that I haven't seen yet.
After dinner we took camels to get partway into the desert before we walked to the top of a dune, and sat and waited for the sun to set. I remember being in complete awe of how all I could see was sand in every direction - minus being able to barely make out the hotel from which we came. It was amazing and terrifying all in one... Imagine getting lost out there, everything looks the same and unless you climbed a dune (which was much harder than I expected) you'd have no hope of seeing anything on the horizon.
The sand was unbelievably soft and we sat there watching the sun set. As it was beginning to get dark we hopped back on the camels and our guide led us back to the hotel. It was a 20-30 minute walk back and was very dark once we made it. I pictured myself being in the beginning scene of Aladdin, you know- when the guy is singing Arabian Nights while walking on a camel through the desert. (I swear I could relate any aspect of my life to Disney)
Some of the group started to head to bed, while half of us stayed up and had some drinks. I had pitched in on some local Moroccan beer even though I hate beer but "when in Rome" I always say. (Has anyone actually ever heard me say that?). There was someone playing traditional music outside but a few of the other people staying at the hotel had complained about it being too noisy. We sat there drinking and talking, getting to know each other. Eventually we moved and sat in the sand, bringing some cushions and blankets with us. It was amazing to sit out in the open, staring at the stars and seeing shadows of the desert before us. It was still warm enough too which was nice. I remember as we were sitting there one of the guys said "is that a camel?!" and all of us looked. Walking past us towards the desert went a camel... It must've escaped from the pen where it was kept overnight. I jumped up and pet it and tried to hold on to it but it kept walking. My constant belief that I have some sort of telepathic communication with animals failed me again! I tried walking with it but was having trouble keeping up and by that point our tour guide and everyone was yelling at me to let it go. I had no idea that I was wandering away with this camel... Obviously I had a bit too much to drink! I remember being worried about the camel now on the loose but the guide reminded me that they can survive for much longer than we can out there and that it would likely wander back. Then we all laughed at me for trying to hold back this huge animal.
Not too long after we decided it was time to go to bed. There were little tents and beds set up for us outside, traditional Berber style, but we decided to pull the beds out so we could sleep under the stars. I almost didn't want to fall asleep because the sky was so beautiful. But I fell asleep pretty easily, and woke up early with the sun.