One late afternoon, while quadding around the Eastern desert near the town of Safaga in Egypt, we were reminded it was February the 14th, Valentine’s day.
At one point, as the sun was beginning its descent, we stopped to stretch our legs. While we were taking in the vista, our guide set a heart of fire on the sand.
It was a wonderful experience.
This is the photograph I captured of the moment.
Following, is a short piece I wrote a few years earlier, while on another adventure, that time in the Sahara desert.
Enjoy the read…..
There is some ethereal quality about the silence of the desert.
It is a silence that has an ascribed spiritual power within its nothingness; strange and compelling, it demands absolute attention from all those within its vast obliviousness.
So it was with our small group of miscellaneous travellers; a rather odd assortment of people. All who chose to spend a night under the stars, and to have the opportunity of watching the sun rise over the sand dunes in the morning.
Our guides set up a makeshift camp, while we tourists frolicked like teenagers on the dunes with snowboards and skies. Until, like errant children, we were summoned to dinner by a loud shout from one of our guides.
In a somewhat random and ragtag manner, we collected our toys and reluctantly, but dutifully made our way towards the fire, and the rich aroma of roasting meats and freshly baked flatbreads. Unlike children however, the prime choice of beverages were cold wine, chilled beer, gin, and whiskey, all served with clinking cubes of ice.
After a meal of charcoal roasted meats, tabbouleh, freekeh salads, flatbreads, and Toomeh, we gathered around the fire to chat and to watch the sunset, casting, as it did, an array of ever-changing shadows over the orange sands as it sunk beyond the horizon, finally plunging the desert into a solid blackness. The only light was from our campfire, and the few torches surrounding the site, flickering in the gentle night breeze.
This was the moment we fell silent.
There was no logical reason. It was not planned, intended, or organised; it was simply one of those shared, collective instances which happen on occasion.
I observed, as we sat peering into the deep darkness, staring totally mesmerised at the million, billion, trillion stars sparkling in the sky above, or just watching the flickering flames of the camps fire, each and every one of us was, at that very moment, listening to the silence emanating from vast expanse surrounding us.
In an instance, we were all touched by the essence of this great wilderness. I could see, in the eyes of my companions, the deep contemplation of their minds, their mental acceptance as the assimilation of earth and spirit was recognised.
I know the moment was so, as after we were disturbed from our collective meditations by a guide returning with further refreshments, the topic of conversation became that of the strangest recognition of our individual and personal awareness, of the mutual experience we just shared.
I believe there are only a few places on earth that are wild enough to lend themselves naturally to such a spiritual encounter.
The desert is one of those places.
If you ever have, even the slightest of opportunity to experience such vast blackness, to see so many stars in such silence, in such a vast and uninhabited place, do not hesitate.
You may even find yourself there.