Once upon a time…

…. in a land far, far away I happened to put my wheels on the hardest rocks I ever experienced. They ran like waves across my path, and it was so dark in the night. I really didn’t know where to go but the car before me led the way with no hesitation and I kept running and running. Bump after bump. Stone after stone. Right in the desert with no way back home.

And finally we stopped. Seemed the middle of nowhere but there was a light. And a warm fire. And a haima. And friendly voices, and salutations, and tea.

So we sat down, drank tea, had food and spent the night talking under the starts.
Oh gosh – how many starts can the sky hold? How many that I could never see before? And they call them different, but they shine alike. So it’s not Pleyads – it’s Thuraya (and so you get where the satellite phone comes from). And it’s not the Milky Way – it’s Road to Santiago (if you’re speaking Spanish) ot Hay Merchants Way (if you’re speaking Arabic).

While we talk, shadows move in the darkness around us but you shall not fear: slowly and gently, these ghosts take the shapes of camels coming back for the night and a bit of food. Mom and Dad are offered fresh camel milk. It’s warm… it’s foamy… it’s good! And then the bread is made. Time to remove much of the hot hashes, put some cold sand on the fireplace, lower the temperature. A flat mass of dough comes out of nowhere and is dropped on the sand, in the fireplace.


All you’ve got to do is cover with other sand, then warm ashes and let it stay. You’ll see ashes rise, the bread is being cooked. And then you take it out, pat it and it’s ready to eat (and no – there’s no sand attached!). Warm, soft, tasty.

Belly is full. Mind is cleared.
What a perfect time to fall asleep…


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Sand bath

Your’re right – I’ve been silent for too long πŸ™‚ It’s just that we get lazy between trips..

We spent two great days, hard to describe everything but three moments will always stay in our memory.

Day 1. Following an old Paris-Dakar pist on an endless and stony hamada we get to a dry wadi. There’s a soft sand patch to cross to the other side. To be honest… better than the awful water in Foum Zguid πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
We stop and walk to see pre-Islamic tombs. It is nice and pleasant, and there are old acacia trees. They are incredible, twisted and shaped by the wind they are still there after years of hard life. They offer rest to birds, butterflies and any other animal looking for a bit of shade. And we meet two camels, mother and “pup” (approximately one year old). They are free, no marks, no ear-clip, nothing… They must have got lost before being marked and live in their natural habitat. With patience and wispering, our guide approaches the female and fondles her nose. We have seen camels in the desert before but these, all alone on such a backdrop, really impress me.
We keep going and finally stop for the camp. A few hours of deserved rest.

Day 2. We go for a large detour and find ourselves on the southern edge of yesterday’s wadi. We’ve got to cross. Dad reviews sand procedures. We’ve already tested my ability in solo-driving on sand: first low gear, diff-lock on, clutch gently released and I start going without speeding up on fresh tracks. I keep moving, time for my crew to get off and make me lighter. Dad walks on my side and occasionally steers from the window (just to make me feel safe). I do the rest. There’s a bit of going up. I can’t make it. Stop. Have to reverse and find another way. We’ve got to try the sandy patch of yesterday. We stop before it and check the sand, those tracks that are like a railroad. Once in, I will have to follow them until the end. Inhale… one, two, three… diff-lock… I speed up and start running on the railroad. More soft sand, I slow down, can’t go on. Stop again πŸ™ Dad goes on first low gear, tries again but it’s too soft…
To cut it short: I had a sand bath πŸ™
My gentlemen wisely decide to take a break and have lunch under one of those beautiful and friendly acacia trees, resting before digging me out πŸ™‚ After lunch we ponder the situation. They lift me one wheel at a time, deflate my tires… I’m standing again! We give it another try but we can’t proceed. Finally we ask our guide for help and he manages it πŸ™‚ We can’t help an Al-αΈ₯amdu lillāh whisper (Thanks God Thanks)! Lesson learnt, lots of new skills and – most important – we got out of the sand! πŸ™‚

I’ll never forget his eyes. An old shepherd, his skin burned by the sun, his Salaam-Alaikum greeting (“May the Peace be on You”). His wrinkles seen only when he unfolds the turban. He asks for water, and water he is given. His eyes shining – he can’t believe it: Not only two Europeans (and a dog), on a Land Rover, give him water at 2:30 pm in the middle of the desert… The water is cold! You can see a light in his eyes, he can’t tell but you can swear it is intense, nearly mystic. I just can imagine he gets back to the camp, tells his friends and they can’t believe it – and the water is now warm again πŸ™‚
This is the best moment of the day for all of us. Maybe of the year! Such a grateful look, such an inner peace in giving water… These are the things that make me want to stay here (in the desert) ever more….


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