Puking from atop a camel - Sahara

Most of my stories of shit going wrong involve bodily functions at inconvenient moments. Case in point, our first day out in the Sahara in Morocco.

A few days before heading out into the desert I woke up shitting and vomiting my head off. Unfortunately, this is nothing unusual for me, so I let things come out and we continued with our day. I thought, this is great, at least I got it out of my system before being in the desert. I thought I was in the clear. But my body had other thoughts.

Jill resting under a cool wet turban

Jill resting under a cool wet turban

When Shit Goes Wrong is a series where we show the ugly side of travel - because it isn't all Instagram perfection. Travel can be quite horrible and painful, so this series exists to balance out all the pretty pictures and 'isn't life grand?!' aspect to what you normally see in social media.


We started our walk out into the Sahara late in the day and spent the night in a beautiful camp; everything was great. I slept well, ate well, and the next morning, felt completely fine and ready for the adventure. Hicham packed up the camels and we started our walk into the dunes. Shortly thereafter, my temperature started rising and so did the nausea. 

I called to Zac and said "I think I'm going to puke." By the time he turned around to come back to where I was standing, I had sat to the ground and was leaning to my left and throwing up just a little bit. Puke on sand is not a great combination. Zac yelled to Hicham to tell him I was not well and Hicham quickly took control and started to rejigger the plans for the day. Puking and the Sahara are not happy bedfellows.

I was sweating, hunched over and generally feeling really awful - I knew there was more to come it was just a question of when. Hicham helped me climb on top of Big John the camel and off we went to an oasis. As we were going, I was sort of laughing at the state of things and feeling really awful. I felt terrible that we needed to change our schedule because of me. But the more urgent feeling was one of just needing to throw up some more.

And so the bumping and shifting of Big John's gate loosened up some things and the puke just started to come. Have you eve tried to puke off the side of a camel? I hadn't either. So unfortunately I didn't do such a great job. I got puke on our bags full of our food and gear for the coming days, puke on my pant leg and sadly, puke on Big John's foot and leg. Each time it would happen I would say "oh, I'm so sorry John". This became sort of a joke for us over the next few days. But I really did feel bad for throwing up on John. I was sure he was like, "what the fuck is happening?" But in retrospect he seemed non-plussed. 

This whole thing struck me as amazingly ridiculous and I was laughing while also feeling like I was going to drop over. We made it to the oasis and I wish I could say there was no more drama left in my body. But sadly, this was not the case. A little more puke, a lot more diarrhea in a toilet where flushing meant using a bucket of water to push the water through the hole and the next few hours were gone. 

Hicham changed the plan to wait out the heat of the day at the oasis and then we would head on for a few hours to our overnight spot. Luckily I was feeling much better and the urgency subsided so I got back on Big John and off we walked further into the Sahara.

Zac and Hicham seemed to have cleaned up all the evidence of my earlier transgressions against my pants, the bags and Big John, so it was as if none of this had happened. Oh, but that wouldn't make such a funny story. I did patch up my relationship with Big John and he seemed quite ok with my presence. It's good to know a camel won't harbor a grudge after being puked on.