A Saharan Sunrise
Experience the Saharan sunrise with Marie Lisa Jose, the winner of Grab Your Dream Season 1 as she narrates her travel diary
The pre-dawn sky is black and there is a nip in the air. But I had not bothered about a sweater, knowing well that when the sun will rise I would be glad for the minimal layers of clothes.
We climb up and down the dunes on our way to the vantage point; a little hurriedly not wanting to miss out on the sunrise. Around us the wind blows gently, carrying little grains of sand with it. I stop to remove my shoes. The cool sand of the desert trickles through my toes with every step, sinking my bare feet deeper into the sand. Walking the dunes is a little harder than I had anticipated. Blame the camels for making it look like a piece of cake!
After a rather difficult climb to the top of a high dune we reach our vantage point. Time is on our side. The sun is yet to rise. In a little while, the black canopy of the sky melts away in places to give way to subtle hints of blue. The shades of black and blue do their part in separating light from dark. Slowly but surely the blue overwhelms the black and forms take shape. Ahead of us lies the vast expanse of the Saharan desert. A hundred thousands troughs and crests forming a hundred thousand sand dunes. On and on as far as the eye can see.
“Over there is Algeria”, says Aziz our guide. We follow his finger to find the view unchanged.
” It is a sensitive area”, he continues.” Drug mules use the desert route to traffic drugs into the country”.
This made me wonder about the harsh extremes one would have to endure just to peddle drugs. Imagine walking for days in the heat, in the cold and to top it…with all that sand!
My thoughts on walking the desert reminds me of my conservation with Baschir, the owner cum receptionist at our little hotel by the edge of the dunes. His tribe is from the desert, and they are nomads by nature. However, his family gave up the nomadic way of life, settled down and started the hotel. He still has relatives in the desert.
My first question to him on hearing his story was about the nomadic life. How is this desert different from the one you left? He laughed and replied with a simple “It is different”. I did not pursue it further as I was being interrupted by a sudden burst of wind that deposited a generous amount of sand all over us.
It is hard to imagine life here. Hard to imagine moving every now and then with your family and your cattle in tow. Hard to imagine each and every aspect of your life being shaped by the desert. For instance when you drink tea, in this corner of the world, you have to have a thick layer of foam on top. Since there is no getting away from the sand, you use the foam to trap the grains of sand before they seep down into your drink. Their instruments are also percussion in nature. The interesting fact about them is that you need only animal hides to create one, and somehow their howling can be heard above the wind at night!
At a distance, a caravan slowly heads into the desert. The camel at the front nonchalantly walks with one hoof in front of the other. My mind starts wondering. Are they going to meet their relatives? What are they going to do in the desert? What can they do? Even if they were going to meet relatives, how would they know where they are at the moment; you know being nomadic and all. It’s not like they can send a word across informing that they are camping at four dunes to the west! Last weeks in the west may have a completely different landscape today.
I break away from the group and climb another dune. I sink into the sand and wait patiently for the sunrise with sand in my pockets and in my hair. Around me the wind picks up speed. The tips of the dunes keep shifting with the blowing wind. Little by little the desert is moving. A few weeks from now the dunes would have moved to another spot. Nomadic by nature. Maybe I am beginning to comprehend.
“When the contest by Cox and Kings advertised that the winners of the Grab Your Dream contest would have an adventure of a lifetime I took it to be no more than pure advertising. But sitting here overlooking the vast expanse of the Saharan desert I cannot help, but count my blessings. I sink deeper into the sand and let the desert overwhelm me. This indeed is an adventure that I dare not have dreamed of.”
About The Author
With every new place I discover, I discover a bit more about myself.Sometimes I surprise myself! But there are two things I am sure of; one, I am happiest when I am travelling and two , I can never say no to an adventure!
John Selden said ” While you are on earth, enjoy the good things that are here”; I have taken his advice very seriously.
To Life Ahoy!