We arrived in Arfoud, called Erfoud at the time, and the city was also nicknamed "The door to the desert." At the gas station, a cheerful young man put fuel in our vehicle. With a clumsy yet humorous attempt to speak Spanish, he asked me where we were going and when we told him we were going towards Merzouga to see the Erg Chebi "desert of dunes", he offered to accompany us and told us he knew the area well because he and his family had the Café - Restaurant Des Dunes in Arfoud and a small hostel in the area of Merzouga. However, we didn't have any interest in being guided, first of all, because I had already driven the route, and secondly because the boy was young and we did not know him at all.
He insisted a lot and, with his smile, convinced us to allow him to join us, and he jumped into the car without telling any of his family members that he was going to be away for the night.
During the trip, he offered to organize a walk with dromedary around the dunes for us, and we accepted. Once we were on the dromedaries and about to head out with a nomad guiding the animals, the young guy asked me for the keys to my car. I thought he might have forgotten something inside the vehicle, and I threw the keys to him. I was stunned when I saw that he went to the car and drove off, disappearing with all of our belonging in the vehicle. Emma had a nervous breakdown because she thought the vehicle had been stolen in front of us.
I tried to communicate with the nomad owner of the dromedaries, but he didn't understand anything I was saying. His reply to me was a big smile.
We spent three hours riding the dromedaries through the dunes until we reached a settlement of people from Black Africa, called "Hamelia," and the first thing I saw was my car, washed and in perfect condition. What the young man had done was take the car to the end of the route and wash it to get a tip. The problem was that he didn't tell us, before what he was doing.
The Hamelian people treated us in an extraordinary way; they made us feel unique and gave us unexplained sensations. To show them gratitude for everything they did for us, we decided to come back next year with more people and school materials, clothes and other things to give to the families, and we contacted the young guy from the petrol station again, whose name is Tayeb. Every Easter, we used to go to this part of the country, every time with more people to share the experience with friends and families. My relationship with Tayeb was as friends of a lifetime, and one day he proposed me the opportunity to build a small hotel with some rooms on the outskirts of Arfoud. It was a kind of symbolic contribution to progress in that area that had given us so much hospitality to my family and me and where Tayeb had lived all his life.
And unwittingly, without thinking and let us go for the "magic" of the country and affection of his people, today we have a large group of companies and hotels that are an excellent resource for more than 300 families. None of it would have been possible if Tayeb and his entire family were not extraordinary people, with huge hearts and an amazing sense of hospitality that got us wanting to show Morocco to others.
Sometimes things that you weren't looking to find you, and if you allow yourself to be guided by your heart, rarely will they end badly.