I worked out diligently for months, wearing a back pack loaded with a ten pound weight, in advance so I would be prepared for the Marathon de Sables, a 150 grueling race across the Sahara in Morocco. There was an American contingent of perhaps thirty racers also participating. Fortunately, their travel schedule did not match with my work commitments so I traveled alone to Morocco.
Suddenly there was Marrakesh, Morocco… Arabic, modern, decaying, and renewed all in one small space. I immediately liked the town but I had to cross the mighty Atlas Mountains before even beginning to walk across the desolate Sahara.A local bus always works for me. Language skills aren’t needed. Just speak the name of place where you want to go. Bus drivers around the world take it from there. The great Atlas stretches 2,500 kilometers through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. As the bus rolls up and through steep frightening curves the air cools, passengers nibble on nuts and I savor a poor man’s trip, bus travel of a lifetime. At a summit before whizzing downhill to Quazarate a neat little desert town and shove off point for the desert race.“They all left earlier today”, the operator of the race headquarters hotel tells me. “It’s dark now you will need to find a ride out into the desert in the morning. I sleep confident that a four wheel drive cab will be able to finds its way deep into the Sahara where hundreds of foreigners re bivouacked awaiting the race.