So this isn’t my picture of the Sahara sand dunes. My pictures aren’t that good.
But I did see, and try and walk on, the dunes. Imagine sinking into a pile of sand that is taller than many buildings. Now imagine trying to climb up that pile of sand, while you’re sinking in. Quite a bit of torture and quite a lot of fun!
But the most important thing about the Sahara sand dunes is their beauty, which is barely captured by this photo. Barely captured by any photo actually. It’s the sort of beauty that makes you pinch yourself because you can’t believe it’s true.
As some may know, I was blessed to spend a week in Morocco and three weeks in Spain with my family a few summers back. I will quickly tell you that it wasn’t enough time in either place, and that I realize how unbelievably fortunate I was (and am) to have had the experience. We saw indescribable sights and encountered people, places, and situations that gave us memories of a lifetime. I know how lucky I was. (Best part, to this day, is still four weeks of family dinners…and each night each of us sharing our best things of the day.)
But the other best part is seeing things you never thought you’d see…like sand dunes that are taller than the buildings in the East Village, where I grew up, and that go on and on (and on) far beyond what the eye can see. I remember when they first came into my sight, and all I could think was, “Wow, it does really look like this! They are this immense. They do go on forever.”
When we were on our way to the Sahara, we got in a car with a driver we had just met. (Mohammed, I think his name was. A few of our guides were named Mohammed.) Mohammed proceeded to drive us out of the town we were in and onto a strip of dirt road that went through the desert. Within minutes, there was nothing but our strip of road and flat wasteland on all sides of us – for, again, as far as the eyes could see. The edges of the Sahara apparently are flat and dune-less.
We drove this way for perhaps ten to fifteen minutes while Mohammed and my daughter chatted away in Spanish, and then, as if out of nowhere, Mohammed took a sharp right turn off of the road and drove into the wasteland. Straight into the wasteland. Into the nothingness of wasteland. All I could think was, “Wow, we could die here an no one would ever know.” Apparently my husband thought the same thing.
Mohammed drove us through the wasteland, turning this way and that. What his markers were I have no idea. After ten or so minutes of my wondering if we’d ever see civilization again, Mohammed brought us to a paved road, made a left onto it, and drove to the town on the edge of the dunes.
For me, the gift of seeing places like this, and sights like the Sahara, is the sense of awe at the universe and at the beauty of our Earth. When you look up (or down) a waterfall. When you view the peak of a mountain (or sometimes, even, a very tall hill). When you see fields and fields and fields of sunflowers (which I was also lucky enough to see during this trip).
There is so much beauty in our world. There is grandeur beyond belief – like in the Sahara dunes. There is magnificence beyond words. I saw it in Morocco. I see it on my street in the trees against the bright blue sky. There are “purple mountains majesty,” and resplendence around us. We just have to notice it.
Go to Morocco if you ever can. Visit the dunes and see them for yourself.
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