Biggest. Litter Box. EVER.

So after being stuck in the freezing cold and fog and rain for the past few weeks (Seattle, are you haunting me?!), there was nothing more appealing than some nice Southern Moroccan hospitality and good weather. I seized the opportunity to head down with a great group of exchange students and Moroccans to the South-Eastern region of the Sahara in the town of Merzouga. After leaving at some ungodly hour in the morning (aka 7 am), we drove for a bit with a couple pit stops included, one of them including this gorgeous view of a canyon.

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After the most delicious lunch, which was basically yorkshire pudding filled with eggs and beef and almonds (YUMMMM), we headed out in 4×4’s to the desert. We got there, drank some delicious tea (bismallah), hung out for a bit, goofed around, and learned how to make a proper headscarf wrap for the wind and sand. Gotta say, I kind of like the look. And isn’t Coleen the cutest?!

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Then we were ready to go on our Sahara trekkin’ adventure, accompanied by camels of course. And as you know, in typical Ellie fashion, I absolutely freaked out seeing camels. There may have been screaming. And in typical camel fashion, mine tried to bite me. But I named him Lawrence and we had a good trip into the dunes together.

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I have to say, I’m not the biggest fan of sand. I’m always the person to wash their feet as soon as possible, dust off as much as possible, and hate having it in my sandals. But there was something about the Sahara that was comforting, and I wasn’t trying to jump out of my skin to escape the gritty bits. Maybe it was the legendary camel leader who liked everything reggae or maybe it was the picture-perfect scenery, but I was hooked.

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After a night of delicious tajine eating and star watching and music playing, we headed back out early after the sunrise. I was not so fortunate with camels this time. I picked one because he looked smiley, but I think he had asthma and bad knees or something because I thought I was doing to fall into the dunes the whole way back. That’s what I get for saying I want the crazy camel. (He was cute tho.)

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Although it was a short two-day trip, it was one of the best experiences of my life. Being able to drive through some of the most rural parts of Morocco and really get a feel for the many different ways people live their lives here was really meaningful to me. We had such a great group of people who were all excited to broaden their horizons, and I thank all of you for being such positive and wonderful travel companions. And a big thank you to the drivers, workers, cooks, camel-leaders, and Iliass (ILY, ASS), who all put in tremendous effort to make this trip so great. You guys are the real MVPs.

The homesickness is starting to creep up more now, but so is my love for this place. I wish I had the opportunity to stay longer, but I have so much waiting in store for me when I return to California (MISS YOU MOST OF ALL, BASKETBALL BABIES). It’s conflicting because this place is really starting to feel like home, and having such an amazing group of friends and the most wonderful boyfriend makes it all harder. I’m trying to picture my life before and how I can adjust back to that reality, but I’m not sure if I totally can. It’s funny how just a few short months can force you to reevaluate what your place is in the world, and where in the world should you go.

But for now, I’ll be sitting pretty in the present, desperately trying to get my grades up and enjoying the best company a girl could ask for. Also, I’ve been featured in a music video for a rap song that my INSANELY talented friend Soufian Maliki wrote. So please check it out, dig it, and share it to the world!

One Memory – Soufian Maliki

And with that, I’ll leave you with a little Moroccan cuteness that my friend Savannah and I stumbled upon Yesterday. I hope you are all having an amazing time in whatever adventure you are embarking on, and keep spreading the good vibes.

All My Love,

Ellie Leonhardt

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