Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

The year 2012 was pretty exciting for me. I was able to finish my master’s degree, find work abroad and still get to squeeze in a bit of travel time. I had fun reminiscing on all the things that happened in my life for the past 12 months and choosing the pictures that best represent each month.

Here’s my 2012 in pictures. Enjoy!

Photo of the Day – Nomadic Life

Nomads have no fixed houses and they move from place to place according to the season.  They move to search for food, water and grazing land for the cattle. The Sahara Desert nomads live in a tent made out of thick wool to protect themselves from the heat of the sun, the sand and the wind. They may live in a tent and move around but there’s no place like home. And home, for the nomads, is the Sahara Desert.

Photo of the Day – Sahara Smile

This is the photo that will always remind me of the Sahara Desert. Mohammed (his pictures appear on my previous post – My Sahara Desert Experience) is our camel trek guide and he always greets us with a smile on his face. He makes sure that we are comfortable and enjoys our stay on the desert. He has been a camel guide for quite a while now but his family is still living a nomadic life. He is from a desert-dwelling tribe called the Bedouins. His family lives in a tent and transfers from one area to another, depending on the weather conditions. He visits his family when he’s got a long break from working. I asked him how will he know where his family is currently located on the desert? and he said, “It’s easy. I can find them.” I guess it’s true when they say – “Home is where the heart is”.

My Sahara Desert Experience

Sahara Desert is the second largest desert in the world and it occupies 10% of Mama Africa. My curiosity of this magical place started when I was a kid and I hear the song Sahara Nights by F.R. David. It was only before my trip to the desert that I listened and read the lyrics again. Ah! Indeed, the lyrics got me excited and ready to explore the desert!

To get to Sahara Desert, we went to a village in Morocco named Merzouga which is located at the edge of the desert and is the starting point of the treks.

My ride for the trek.

We got there just in time for the sunset camel trek. Our tour guide dropped us off to meet our camel trek guide Mohammed. Mohammed helped me put my turban on and no, it’s not just something to wear to think that this is authentic Sahara Desert ride. The turban is used to protect the wearer from wind, the dust and the heat from the sun. Well ok, for me it is to show that I am riding a camel on the desert with the native garb (hey, it’s part of the fun). So I have the turban on and I am also wearing a mauve kaftan and now I am ready to do the camel trek! We are now riding the camel (on my bucket list – done! yehey!!)

My camel and the trek guide Mohammed.

One last shot!

Ready to start the trek.

It was a bit windy so we were advised to wear our shades to protect our eyes from the dust. We started the trek. I was getting worried that we won’t get to see the sunset because the clouds are gray a storm is about to start. Uh oh, the wind is getting stronger and the sand is flying everywhere – SANDSTORM!!!! My first time on the desert and I experienced a sandstorm! Cool!!!!! 🙂 Some sand got into my eye and I need to remove my contacts because it’s getting itchy. We had to stop and huddle under the carpet. I removed my contacts and wore my glasses instead. Thanks to Mohammed for helping me remove the sand in my eyes.

The clouds were a bit gloomy and it was a bit windy. Quite nice actually.

The wind is getting stronger and the horizon is getting blurry.

After awhile, the wind slowed down and we continued our trek. Then the storm started again. We continued for a few minutes and my sister finally asked Mohammed to call our tour guide to come pick us up with the 4×4. The visibility was very poor and the sandstorm continued. No sunset today. Bummer.

Our knight in 4×4 arrived hehe. (sandstorm ongoing)

One last picture before escaping the sandstorm

We went to the bivouac and waited for the storm to die down. It was still windy up until dinner time and the sky is still cloudy. We didn’t have a bonfire because it was still windy. Instead, G’naui music was played on the terrace. I was too tired to party. I went to sleep early because we will do another camel trek this time to watch the sunrise.

G’naui music at the bivouac.

Early morning trek to catch the sunrise.

We woke up at around 430am. We started the camel trek at 500am. There was a cool breeze but the sky is clear. We trekked for 30 minutes and went on foot on top of one of the dunes. Mohammed spread the carpet and we sat waiting for the sunrise.

Enjoying the sunrise.

Camel trek on the desert.

After a few minutes, the sun was peaking on the horizon. The colors of the sky changed every few minutes. We sat there taking pictures and enjoying the scenery. Then out in a distance, I saw another group doing a camel trek. Luckily, I was able to capture an image of them doing the trek and the sunrise in the background, yey!

Getting ready for the trek back to the bivouac. Mohammed smiling while I took his picture.

On our way back to the bivouac.

The Sahara Desert.

All in all, it was a fun experience. I missed the sunset (now I have a reason to come back!) but I did get to experience my first ever sandstorm. Do you also want to go visit the Sahara? Do comment on this post! 🙂