“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to…” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
I went on an Overnight Desert Safari on May 2. I had Phil Collins’s song “On My Way” playing in my mind constantly. We had a 10min stop at some touristy shops and an Indian woman invited me to join her and her family. There was a choice between doing the overnight safari or driving back at 9pm. The family I met weren’t spending the night, but I spent the evening with them. The bus ride was an hour long. I read Richard Branson’s book Screw it, let’s do it when I looked up the bus had stopped and 4×4’s were waiting to take us to the camp site by doing dune bashing. The dune bashing made me feel quite seasick, hitting all the ups and downs at quite a speed! At the camp site we rode on camels, a very short ride, maybe 20m at the most, but I was glad it wasn’t longer, it’s rather uncomfy on a camel, but I enjoyed it non-the-less.
The youngest daughter (10y) of the Indian family and I spent most of our time together. I wanted to see the sunset, so we climbed up a dune and I watched the sun set over the desert. I stood gazing at it and suddenly it was over, the sun had vanished behind the horizon and dusk came over the land.
I got a henna tattoo and the girl who did it asked me if the Indian girl was my daughter! I said no, she’s my friend. The Muslim girl looked surprised and I told her that I knew the girl’s family. The Muslim girl who was doing my henna tattoo told me that the girl’s family was my friends, not just the girl. It’s a family culture, not an individual one; you aren’t friends with one member of a family, my family is friends with your family…
I ate with the Indian family, and then we watched belly dancing and tamboor dancing. I danced on stage with the tamboor dancer. It was pretty cool, although all you really have to do is turn around in a circle, though that turns out to be a lot harder than expected. The robe that you put on to dance with is heavier than I expected so it takes a lot of very fast twirling to make it spin level. I was very dizzy when I got off the stage, but I knew which way to walk.
There were only 5 people staying over for the night. They threw out a Persian map and set up my own little tent for me to sleep in. There was a Muslim man who seemed pretty interested in me, an unmarried girl travelling alone, he kind of annoyed me! I wish I had told him to just leave me alone, but I didn’t want to be rude or mean, so I just ended up being shy and trying to avoid him. Not a good tactic.
“To sleep under the stars, who could ask for more, with the moon keeping watch over me” Phil Collins – I couldn’t fall asleep, they kept playing very loud music, the same music the belly dancer had danced to. The lights also remained on for almost an hour after the tents had been set-up, the workers where cleaning up… I desperately wanted to see the stars, but that wasn’t possible. I decided to try and fall asleep. I woke up just after 4am, unzipped my tent door and stared up at the moon. I got a glimpse of the stars, but the sunrise was only an hour away. By 5:15 I was lying on a dune watching the dawn coming over the world and then I saw the sunrise, a vague yellow circle behind the dust growing ever brighter. It was beautiful.
The desert life style wasn’t based on comfort! Camel riding is quite uncomfortable and sleeping on the ground with a mat instead of a mattress is also something. I’ve read my Bible several times and never thought how it must have been for the Israelites to live in the desert. A lifestyle covered in sand. Walking is hard, your feet sink into the soft sand and you need all the strength in your legs for the next step to get up a dune. I tried walking with sneakers, but I saw the workers who spend every day in the sand were bare foot, as I saw that I started untying my laces and soon my shoes where lying next to me and walking without them was much easier.
There was one dune, maybe 10 – 15m high, from which you could sand-board – if you knew how! I tried it 3 times and fell over, running down ended up being more fun. There was a Hindu family who had also spent the night, the little girl wanted to go up the dune and I helped her by just holding her hand. At the top I left her and ran down to get the sand-board thinking I might try it again. She got very scared, because the dune was very steep. I left my sand-board and climbed back up. This time I started feeling nauseous, climbing up a sand dune takes a lot of energy if you’re not use to it, I finally got up. Sitting down next to the girl I put her on my lap and slowly started to slide down, she was very scared. The steep dune and the arms of a strange girl were almost too much for her, but finally we reached the bottom.
Everything I own was full of sand. Desert sand has a way of creeping into every little corner. I packed way to much stuff, not knowing what would be needed. If I had just packed a change of clothes in my back-pack I’d have been fine, but I packed my pink shoulder bag so full that I ended up bruising my shoulder!
Overall, it was wonderful! I wish I could see more of the stars though.