Lettre du Maroc

Soft, digestive bubblings reverberated from deep within the body beneath me. Zarawah, my fabulous ship of the desert, chewed the cud for his second or third late afternoon snack as we swayed rhythmically together towards the distant sand dunes.Perched on a precarious nest of baskets and blankets some seven feet above the stony desert floor, I relaxed into these rather odd sensations and luxuriated in the frisson of being at the very edge of the vast expanses of the Sahara. Along with rock, mountains and the sea; deserts are primal. Dictionary definitions talk of barren, empty, lonely ‐ as if a nothing place. I would rather speak of timeless, spare, pared down, minimal … of texture, form and structure; of the most subtle changes in colour: dusky rose pink, burnt ochre yellow, deep purple brown, bleached bone white… of the elemental and the fundamental. Later, high on a dune, as the sun melted into the horizon, we dug hands deep into the hot sand and watched a wash of red orange light the sky, and then be gently overcome by darkness. Later still, around embers of the campfire, we counted shooting stars. And in the huge, hanging silence of the night, I could feel myself being drawn upwards into the myriad individual dots of the Milky Way, into space and time, difference and similarity. And I wondered again how like up there, down here is. A true ‘Universe in a Grain of Sand’

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