I went to the Sahara a few years ago; it was my second time to Africa. We started in Marrakech and drove for a day, high over the Atlas mountains where we stopped to buy stone-encrusted daggers and green pottery. We spent hot days in the sun and freezing cold nights huddled under as many scratchy blankets as we could find. At night, although we were the only ones around for miles, I heard the shuffling of goats and donkeys outside our hut. When the sun set below the dunes, there was nothing but stars, stars up and stars down and stars to the left and the right. Our guides, who only spoke Arabic and French, served us goat meat and aubergines, huge tagines filled with cous cous, sweet oranges sprinkled with cinnamon, bottomless cups of mint tea. We sat around the fire at night and they sang traditional songs to us, accompanied by only one drum. They asked us to sing songs of Canada; we sang The Beatles and Bob Dylan, because we didn’t know what else to sing. They had never heard any of the songs before. And then, after dusty days on camels and climbing up endless mountains of sand, they took us back the same route we came. We could never figure out how they found their way, with no apparent roads or markers to guide them. We stopped at the edge of the desert, where a seabed once was, and searched for fossils; they filled our hands with rocks full of tiny fish and shells. Finally, after sundown, we made it back to Marrakech, our bags heavier with robes and jewelery from M’Hamid, our clothing covered with sand, our muscles aching, our hearts already wishing we could go back.
This sounds wonderful. You put so much heart in your words that I no longer am in front of my computer, but in a cold night in the desert, surrounded by stars, sand and songs.
Thank you so much Mélissa, that is so kind of you to say!