“Just hold on tightly, Fatima,” said the Berber man as I felt myself being thrown forward, and almost a second later felt myself being dipped back as my camel stood up. The name ‘Fatima’ had become almost second nature to me as our driver, Omar, had christened me as such from the start of our 2 day journey to Merzouga, the start of the Saharan desert in Morocco. At first, I thought perhaps he just didn’t understand my American turned British accent, but I soon found out that ‘Fatima’ was the name of the prophet Mohammad’s favorite wife, and it was a sign of respect.
The mix of French, German and Spanish brought me back to present as I surveyed the diverse group around me. Our twelve person group was just about to start on our overnight trip across the Saharan desert. An hour later we stopped our camels to take in the sun setting over the dunes. Despite being only an hour away from the village of Merzouga, as I looked around me, I felt like I was floating in the middle of a golden ocean. The sight of the dipping dunes turning from a golden color to a greying hue as the sun finally dipped out of sight, is breathtaking.
“Arch, come try this,” called my husband with a childlike excitement in his voice, once again bringing me back to reality. In his hand he held a sand board, which is exactly like a snowboard, except on sand. I turned just in time to see him jump on the board, and just as quickly fall off the board. The sand was too soft to fly down the slopes as we had imagined. He decided to improvise and sat down on the board and slid down.
Before we realized it, night had descended upon us turning the scorching golden ocean into a cool, black sea. Sitting on top of the dunes as the sand flitted across our face is a humbling experience. The world seemed so far away and I don’t think nature has ever made me feel so small. I looked up and the sky was bejeweled. I felt so close to the sky that I almost felt as if I could reach out and catch a star.
I suddenly felt a light shining on us (no it wasn’t a falling star), and my rumbling stomach confirmed it must be a call to camp for dinner. As I walked down the slope, I could hear the Berber man calling “Come Fatima, come”
About the Author: Archana Shastri is a communications professional, originally from New Jersey, now residing in London. Travelling and writing are two of her passions.