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The tourism industry in Morocco is founded on the romance of nomadic tradition, a constant flitting dance amongst the silent rocks and drifting sands of the Sahara. The desert culture is mesmerizing, albeit somewhat exaggerated in the more touristic areas. In several auberges (guesthouses), there were Berber tents set up in the courtyard, each made of woven wool on layers of intricately patterned carpets with decorative cushions for sitting and sipping mint tea. Each may be leased for the night, in case one was interested in experiencing the ‘authentic’ nomad life. We often asked locals if they knew a place we could camp, which generally required hand signals to illustrate an A, for tent, then the universal gesture for sleep (tilting the head sideways and resting it on the hands, palms together). That usually resulted in the person laughingly questioning, “Like nomad!?” We may have been moving from place to place with a tent, but, by measure of extremity, we were no comparison to the Berber and Toureg people who roam the spiny desert and follow the herding traditions of their forefathers, living and dying by their camel. They are engrained with knowledge to navigate a seemingly endless ocean of rock and sand, using only stars, the sight of insects,

and cryptic landmarks. They must be at peace with the risk that a well 100 kilometers away may be dry, in harmony with the presence of nothing, and comfortable within a constant silence that I initially found unnerving. After killing the only fly in the desert Southeast of Tata, we made our way to Foum Zguid. As if the remoteness of the route wasn’t enough, we decided to take an even more desolate track toward Mhamid, into an area in the Sahara that is generally deemed accessible only by a sturdy 4x4. We made the decision after asking countless locals and hedging our bets with a mountain bike guide, who said, “… well it’s probably doable, but extremely adventurous.” We embarked on the intrepid three-day route just before dawn. The complete stillness of the morning was streaked with pastel pinks and blues as the first light colored the horizon in purposeful bands. To the south, a mesa sawed the sky with its jagged peaks of orange and rust. An extraordinarily bumpy track led us through sandy washes and vast rock gardens, through slivers of single track and pits of deep sand.

Bunyan Velo 13

Profile for Lucas Winzenburg

Bunyan Velo: Travels on Two Wheels, Issue No. 05  

Bunyan Velo is a collection of photographs, essays, and stories celebrating the simple pleasures of traveling by bicycle.

Bunyan Velo: Travels on Two Wheels, Issue No. 05  

Bunyan Velo is a collection of photographs, essays, and stories celebrating the simple pleasures of traveling by bicycle.

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