The thought of ‘thundering’ through the plains of Mongolia
was what got me on a horse in the first place;
and here I was,
about to ‘thunder’ across the plains of Morocco, on a horse!
Who would have thought!
And while I am still to see the Mongolian plains,
I have seen miles and miles of the Sahara desert,
some 100 something kilometers I believe.
Nor I am complaining.
After all they both show up on the world map,
both begin with an M,
and both are exotic sounding.
And so after some adventures along the way Always read the fine print. Really?
which reminded me this was an exploratory trip,
I was relieved to find that we were not going to Tombouctou
appealing as the name is….
(although I always thought it was Tim Buck Too)
we found ourselves in Zagora
where we needed to stop,
and meet our horses.
Did I mention this ride began on my birthday?
No, I don’t believe I did – but there you have it.
To celebrate my 65th birthday I was about to ride a horse for 7 days in the Sahara.
Tells you something about what has happened to my mind in my old age!!!!!
And so the first night, spent at the ‘stables’ as shown above was round a table with delicious food and celebratory musicians.
Sadly I do not have any of the promised Professional photographs yet but these lovely ones are largely thanks to Jo – so very much appreciated.
Where they fail, use your imagination.
We had two belly dancers and a group of male musicians all of whom wanted to party long after we were all ready to retire!
So far so good,
We had all had much fun,
survived the drive from (or was it too?) hell to get here
and were about to begin a different ride bright and early
the day after the night before.
Maybe refer to my rough notes which I show below.
Barb & Arab horses.
Good riders and still chaotic.
What am I doing here
Fractured wrist and all
Ready to bail
But do what?
Sit in the truck with no one speaking English?
Stayed – so nervous couldn’t even see the views”
Really difficult to explain how hectic this morning was.
18 riders, more than I have ridden with before.
All of them much better riders than I am and still they had their hands full.
Of course these photos hastily taken by someone show tranquility –
that is because when there wasn’t (tranquility) which was most of the time that morning,
no one Could take photos 🙂
Luckily for me I had Not done my homework on the Barb horse (or Berber)
because they are described as :
” generally possessing a fiery temperament and an atypical sport-horse conformation,
but nevertheless has influenced modern breeds”.
It would appear even the Andalusian was bred through the Barb.
I certainly saw some of that fiery temperament on that morning.
I did learn that they had been fed oats for a few days prior,
with no work,
in anticipation of the 7 day ride ahead.
Oats apparently makes them ‘full of energy’.
And so I was here – for better or for worse.
Finally I was allocated a mount, Zeina, a flea bitten gray (again)
although this time a Barb Arab cross and happily for me,
the kindest, most willing, even tempered friend I could ever ask to spend 7 days with.
Fortunately too, I was the last to be saddled up
so I did not have to keep her tranquil for ages waiting for the others.
So what were the views I according to my notes not see thanks to my nerves?
Well we left the ‘stables’ and found ourselves in the streets of Zagora.
Narrow lanes really,
where the sound of horses feet on the ground brought people rushing out from
every nook and cranny (of which there were many)
Finally and thankfully we were out of the ‘crowds’ and could settle our horses and ourselves.
For what lay ahead……
Which was fascinating.
The Draa Valley to begin with.
(the Draa river when it flows is Morocco’s longest river, 1 100 km)
It was an incredibly long day,
both in terms of hours in the saddle,
and emotionally as we settled with our horses
and worked through the Adrenalin of our start.
And my notes remind me we arrived at camp well past dusk,
weary, grateful for an AMAZING meal, and our tiny tents.
I for one, didn’t care that I wasn’t going to shower or wash,
I was just pleased to crawl into a warm sleeping bag, with a nourished body.