I’ve rented my car from Casablanca and I’m heading south. My purpose is to see the Sahara desert.
I found myself a guide on my way. Together we are going to Merzouga. As we get closer to the desert, we can hardly see the asphalt because of the sand. Eventually there is no road left, only hard soil and sand. We follow the tire tracks left behind from cars which passed before us; any wrong choice can lead us to be stranded. When we arrive at Merzouga, we park the car and get on the camels waiting for us. And we are at the desert. We are going to find the Bedouin tents somewhere in the desert and spend the night there.
Are the camels moving or is it the sand beneath us slipping?
I realized that I didn’t know the meaning of a desert at all, before I saw one. This was similar to describing honey as ‘’sweet’’ before even tasting it. If I screamed in the middle of the desert and no one heard me, would I have still made a sound? What about the curves of the dunes, do they have to be this sexy? Are the dunes real or are their shadows the real ones? Are the camels moving or is it the sand beneath us slipping? As I was thinking of all these questions, 2 hours had passed already. I asked the guide, ‘’When are we going to get there?’’. His answer was plain and simple, ‘’hopefully.’’. This saying, which we use in our everyday lives, had never suited a situation this well in our small and artificial worlds. ‘’Yes of course, hopefully.’’ I repeated to myself. Because there was only sand 360° surrounding us. If we were at point A and we were to get to point B, there was no difference between point A and B. If A=B, there was no meaning in discussing the distance between them. Besides, if it wasn’t for the sunset, there was no way to tell if any time had passed either.
Finally, we arrived at the camp site. The fire was set. Dinner was prepared. As the darkness fell, it got cold. I put something on and laid backwards on a blanket made of camel hair. Until that moment, I never could have known that there were so many stars and that the world could have been so quiet. I fell asleep with only the beat of my heart in my ears, the Milky Way in front of my eyes, in the middle of emptiness.