Four months later, the part of my Moroccan trip that I remember most vividly is the day and night we spent in the Sahara. We drove east from Tinghir, changed to a four-wheel drive at Rissani, and went south and east into the desert until we left the road behind. There was nothing all around us but horizon and sand.
And then, suddenly: dunes! They were enormous, literal mountains of sand. All around the base stood a ring of camp-hotels, hugging the dirt track. One of these, Kasbah Leila, would be our home for the night. The heat was stifling; it was a hundred degrees in the shade, and there was hardly any of that.
We waited inside the hotel, taking in the glittering interior and the welcoming cool of thick adobe walls. Down the back steps, a gravel path led to a bath-house and the rectangle of Berber tents around a carpeted courtyard where we would sleep.
We had some time to kill until sunset, when we would ride camels up the dunes. It was still ungodly hot. Someone brought us cotton mats and we laid on the ground with our faces inches from the sand and tried to catch any hint of a breeze.