The trek had started and I really enjoyed the walking. The scenery was to die for. Tough as it might have been, I knew this was probably the easiest bit of the trek. I wish I had not been so right. Why I thought no flies would be in the Sahara I have no idea for, as we stopped, they came. The tents had been put up before our arrival and the camp looked quite cozy. My first big mistake when we arrived was to tip out onto the ground the remaining water in my platypus. Everyone was really surprised. I nonchalantly stated it did not taste very nice but was told that water was precious and I could not do that in the desert. Shamefaced, I pretended not to care but inside I wanted to jump into the nearest hole and hide. We sat on the mats and chatted around the rug where our dinner was to be placed. I was admiring the sunset when all of a sudden the world took on a different look. The wind picked up and swirling sand drove us all into a big tent. The sand storm took us by surprise and the guides tried to make sure our tents were not blown away. I found a corner where I felt safe and we waited for it to calm down. Dinner was served and Jim had kindly asked for the cook to make a plate of plain food for me - it was very tasty. Dinner was always mint tea first, then soup with bread, a tagine of some kind, although we had chicken and chips as well as spaghetti bolognaise, which was very nice.
That night when the sand storm had departed, in its haste it had left most of the sand in everyone’s bags and tents. Some of the tents were damaged and had to be sorted out. Eventually, everyone got into their tents but it was too warm to climb into our sleeping bags so we slept in our liners and tried to sleep. Even though the desert is a quiet place, it has its own night noises. One of the most comforting noises was that of the camels; they made me feel very safe.
Dawn and a new day emerged. Sleep had left me feeling rested. Although sleeping on the floor was a new experience to me, it was pleasant. Getting washed and dressed was a bit of a nightmare. The sandstorm the night before had covered everything in sand and although I used my ‘wet ones’ I still felt slightly sandy and dirty. Tents down, bags re-packed and breakfast was a routine that I would get very used to. With the breakfast came the flies. I think I must be getting used to them. ‘Qué será, será’ (what will be will be) came into my head nearly every mealtime. We had tea/coffee and bread of course, cheese spread, which was really nice, and porridge which got thicker at every serving. Chocolate spread was a favourite with everyone, especially Chris.
Everyone had got used to me tripping up and knocking things over by now. It was a running joke. Water was poured into my glass and passed to me to make sure I did not drop anything and scold anyone, which I had done on too many occasions. Coffee ended up being put into my glass for me as, for some reason one morning, I missed the glass completely much to everyone’s amusement. I really should have bought glasses with me. (My excuse!)
The camels did not like being loaded with our bags and they grunted in disdain. Mind you, I think I would as well. The camels went off and we followed. However, they were walking at a quick pace and soon were lost out of sight. The morning was peaceful with some delightful views. We walked and chatted or walked with our own thoughts. The desert can be a place where you find yourself and your own inner being. I found it so tranquil. However, things change quite dramatically in the desert. The wind started to get stronger and in the distance you could see the sand being blown across the dunes. Spectacular as it was, we were walking straight into it. The rest of the walk I found quite difficult. Even though I had put on factor 50 sun cream, I was getting quite burnt and we were walking right into the wind and the sand storm. Our guide asked us to stay put by some dunes and we took refuge there whilst he went on for a while to see if he could see where the rest of the company were. I had drunk all my water much to the amusement of my friends. Jim our organizer gave me some more although I was told that that would have to last till we reached camp. That was quite a while away.