Update on our situation

Update on our situation 4/15/20:

We lasted at the “Hot Spring Camp” location for just shy of 3 weeks – 20 days.

We had gotten into quite a routine there. We were showering about every two days using our Big Kahuna Portable Shower with the 100 degree spring water.

Ryan took a small contract and worked in the van while I took care of household duties such as, cooking, cleaning, sewing of holes and buttons, and garbage and grey water management.

I did daily loads of laundry to keep up with our dusty clothing, towels and bedding.  Doing daily laundry by hand, using spring water, digging holes to dispose of the laundry water, and covering the holes up again as to not poison the camels with soapy sulphur spring water is super time consuming.  I have a lot of respect for people in the past and present who wash clothing by hand.  It’s not only time consuming, but a workout.

Our awning would not have survived the relentless desert wind and gusts.  We took it down and stored it after a 24 hour trial. To be fair, the sustained winds were about 30 mph and the gusts were higher.

Ryan and I would walk daily, sometimes just to go #2 away from people and sometimes to explore our surroundings.  The flower like pattern on the map is where we walked.  The different colors represent a different day.

Hot spring hiking Gaia map

As time marched on at this location, the heat, wind, and dust began to intensify.  We started to have discussions on what we should do in the near future as the almost daily dust / sand storms combined with the heat and annoying flies were making life pretty unbearable. The wind would pick up around 3pm and we would have to shut up the van so we would not have a layer of dust / sand on every surface in the van as well as in our lungs.  This time of the day is also quite hot and after closing the doors / windows, the interior van temperature would rise significantly.  We were already using reflectix in the windows.  I even taped a large piece of Reflectix onto the “forehead” of the van’s exterior and partway down the windshield to assist with temperature control, but the heat was really getting to us.  Luckily, the desert nights were cool and we could open up the van sometime between 8-9pm to cool off again.

Dust storm van window

I started to e-mailing campgrounds, some that we had stayed at before the State of Emergency was declared and some at the suggestion of other travelers. Three weeks ago, when the lockdown happened, campgrounds either closed or were closed to new campers. Luckily, three campgrounds said that they would accept us.  The question became, which one do we go to?  There were pros and cons to each…

For one campground, we would be isolated in a corner of the campground for 1-2 weeks.  We knew of a couple who was hunkered down there.  They gave us information about the campground and the area.

We had stayed at another of the campgrounds before.  The questions was, could we make it there with the checkpoints?  It was 6 hours away per Google, which meant probably 10 hours away.  They did provide us with a letter to show authorities during our transit, but they weren’t sure if that would be enough documentation to make it through he checkpoints during the State of Emergency.

The campground we chose was approximately 80 miles from the “Hot Spring Camp”.  It is still in the Sahara, which meant it would be similar temperatures to our current location, but they had services which we had been lacking for over three weeks. Things like running water, flushing toilets, showers, etc.  Looking at their website, they also had some shade.  After discussions, we decided to stay in Southern Morocco for a few reasons:

  1. There are fewer reports of the virus in the South.
  2. Driving to this location would only take a few hours, provided the authorities let us through the checkpoints.
  3. The campground was recommended by our new German friends who have spent over 12 years exploring Morocco.
  4. If the country opens up again, we would still be in southern Morocco and could easily visit the big Moroccan dunes in the South East, provided it’s not too hot at that time.

We have been at our new location (we call it “Oasis Camp”) for 6 full days now.  A couple from the Netherlands we met at the “Hot Spring Camp” decided to join us. There were 7 other vehicles from France, Germany, and Spain when we arrived.  We suspect most people have kept their distance from us since we are new here and they don’t know much about us except our nationality.  The owners are very friendly and have made us feel very welcome.  I have to say, having running water, flushing toilets, and showers is amazing.  This, combined with minimal dust and flies makes the heat and wind of the Sahara so much more tolerable!

We have spent a few days deciding the best location for the van.  We considered the path of the sun to maximize the solar, the location of the trees to maximize shade on the windows, and the direction of the wind.  We are now setting up for the long haul.  We really don’t know how long we will be here. The State of Emergency in Morocco is supposed to end April 20th, but we have heard rumors of an extension.  Time will tell…

Since we have had the van, we have broken 3, plastic step stools.  The step into the van is approximately 19” to the top of the slider and 25” to the top of the van step.  This is a big step to take multiple times a day, especially if we are carrying something.  Today, we (mostly Ryan) made a step stool out of scraps of wood from an old pallet and wood screws the campground owners shared with us. My knees will be very thankful in days to come.

The best part, at least for me, is that there are camels outside the walls of the campground.  I heard their moaning while I was hanging laundry our first day here.  I can’t tell you how happy that made me.  I find it a bit strange how watching animals makes me so happy.  From camels, to long haired goats, to street dogs and cats, to chickens and peacocks.  They all put a smile on my face these days.  I am just so intrigued by them.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised, animals have always been a special part of my life.

Well, that is an update on us.  I hope you are all staying safe and healthy.

-LeeWhay

6 Replies to “Update on our situation”

  1. So glad you are well and have found a more comfortable location. You will be in our prayers.
    Hardy and Trish

  2. Hi LeeWay and Ryan! Wow, it is incredible to consider what you two have experienced and are enduring now! Hang in there and stay safe and well!!
    Laura & I realize that we have it much better than most, hunkering down in Montana. Life is definitely very different – even here. But we are still able to go into the great outdoors. When there, Covid-19 seems like a distant memory.

  3. Nice to hear you’re doing well. Congrats on the showers and toilets… it’s the little things sometimes! All is well in Australia. Still hunkered down and only leaving for food (and Wilbur walks). Our isolation goes to the end of June (for now). Hang in there!

  4. So glad to be able to read about your adventures, thank you for sharing! We are under a shelter in place order til the 24th of April but home seems way too cozy after reading your blog. Of course, we have had to endure more snow days in the past 3 weeks than we had all of January & February combined. And my son’s homeschooling adventures are enough to drive a girl to drink 🙂 But still, I don’t have to have papers, there are no check points, and the house is fully stocked. Stay well you two!! Angie

  5. Thanks for the update. That step stool is going to have an interesting story to tell when this is all over. Stay safe and healthy friends!

    Andy & Zina

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