I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “Sahara” it conjures up certain images. Sand dunes. Camels. Turbans. Mirages. Thirst. Heat.
It turns out all of these things are true.
The Sahara was both exactly what I expected and nothing like I expected. The second I opened the air conditioned tour jeep, heat struck me in the face. I’d say it was an oven, but I feel that may be putting it too lightly. The wind that hit my face was like it came out of a radiator hose. It was dry. It offered no relief. It was my first time experiencing 46oC heat (or 115oF, if you’re an American like me who, no matter how much you study it, can’t seem to understand the centigrade scale). I don’t care what anyone says. That’s hot. It was so hot that my sweat evaporated instantly.
Turning from the car, I looked out over the sand dunes. They extended to the horizon with almost no bushes or brush to speak of. I imagined being dropped in the middle of it and realized I would have no chance of survival. None. Some may survive, but I like my air conditioning and iced beverages.
But it was beautiful. I have seen quite a few different terrains through my travels. Green, rolling hills. Steep, rocky mountains. Clear, blue seas. You wouldn’t think that a landscape possessing only one color would be beautiful. You wouldn’t think it would be interesting.
But it was. The vastness of it was astounding. The dunes rolled through the landscape like fixed waves.
I stood there soaking it all in. It can only be done from outside the car. Inside, amidst the cool temperature, it is artificial somehow. In order to appreciate it, you have to step outside the car and soak in the oppressive heat. You have to smell the sand and feel it blowing through the air. You have to walk through the thick sand and feel it gather in your shoes.
Some things are just better when you’re not comfortable.