I’m back…I did it…and it was more amazing than words… Now, how do I document my experience without detracting from the enormity of it? I’m not sure I can, but I need to try for the sake of posterity, for reflection, for all the people who have supported me and for those who want to experience the Sahara vicariously. So here we are – Diary of my Sahara Trek.
My last post ‘Sahara here I come!‘ hinted at the level of excitement I was feeling prior to departing, and sleep was not easy to come by that final night at home. Almost a year of planning; heavily peppered with self-doubt and insecurities about all aspects of the trip, from raising enough sponsorship, foot problems, parental guilt, illness (mostly [fear of] potential rather than actual!) to whether I would actually cope with the demands of the trek. Despite the momentary elation of getting a mention on the Classic FM school run on the Friday morning, saying goodbye to the boys at their classroom doors was as dreadful as I had expected. The thought of not being there for them, was a very big deal to me. But ultimately I knew this trip would benefit all of us in one way or another, even if not now but in the future, so I was comfortable with my decision, hard as it was to carry out.
Next goodbye was to my anxious-looking husband, who was equally (if not more so) as nervous about the prospect of 10 days on his own with our children, as I was about walking 100km through the Sahara desert. I regretted our minor barney about him not knowing the way to the train station despite trying to drive me there and the ensuing hysteria about the first leg of the journey being a disaster, as soon as I lugged all my many essentials on board. Suddenly I was 18 again, off on an adventure, and it was all I could do to sit still with a big grin on my face all the way to London.
The Tube was not nearly as scary an experience as I expected, in fact I quite enjoyed it and even got couple of smiles – yes, real ones, down South and all! I got myself an M&S lunch, asked the way, followed the red line on the floor and made it happily onto the Gatwick Express. Once through airport security, the four other girls from the PANDAS team and I met up for the first time. It didn’t take long before we were all giddy, taking group selfies, and making jokes about the highly anticipated Sahara desert toilet situation. We were off, and there was no turning back!
I already had fond memories of Morocco but it felt really magical arriving in Marrakech and meeting our guide Jamal – he was cracking jokes straight away and saying “nay bother!” to my Scottish friend Vix. Our hotel for the night was relative luxury and we all knew it, as we listened nervously to our trek briefing from Jamal and his very smiley comrade Lhoucine. We had two more days of travelling ahead of us to get to the gateway of the Sahara desert – M’Hamid, and were all shattered so headed straight to bed.
I’ll leave you with a little video I took early the next morning by the pool. Very tranquil, with all the birds singing and a little dog called Bella running around with the caretaker.
Love, love, love Morocco!