This past weekend I had a SPECTACULAR time camping in the middle of the desert. If you live in Salalah, the gulf or remotely close to a desert its a must-do! I am saddened by how few locals have ever experienced what its like.
We drove nearly two hours deep passed Thamreet before we found "our spot". We were fortunate to have a clear blue sky and with Asr approaching the air was cool and breezy. We camped amidst these amazing sand dunes that appeared to be untouched in perfect unison with its Creator. The right atmosphere can easily change ones mood and for a moment my imagination took flight and I envisioned myself as an Arabian Queen atop her hawdah as she reviewed a grand caravan of camels and men laden with treasures before they embarked into the sands. I looked around tempted to find a random camel and climb its back ha!
Instead we spent the rest of the day slipping and sliding on the dunes, racing each other up and down, creating sand angels and writing all sorts of things in the sugar-like sand. Fascinated by how the wind could make it dance, the kids couldn't stop taking hand full’s of sand and letting it slip through their fingers. Yes, it was magical.
We watched the first stars appear before Maghreb (sunset). I couldn't believe just how many stars poked through the sky despite the Sun's persistence. We decided to pray on the pure sand instead of using a sajadah (my idea). I thought it would be nice to "connect" with the earth being that we are created from it. It was more romantic than practical. Sam had sand stuck to his forehead most of the night and the grains left my forehead sore, alhamdulilah.
Dinner was simple, plain rice and vegetable sauce, salad and hot tea. The sun disappeared before we could finish eating and making a fire in total darkness was a bit of a challenge, but we did it! We sat in a Bedouin style tent around our fire and sipped tea. We told stories and jokes and between the silences we'd look up and marvel at the magnificent stars. It was as if, every single star, ever made, appeared that night to send Salaams (salutations) and remind us of the Creator. Our mood quietly shifted and became serious as we sat under this blanket of stars in contemplation, SubhanAllah (Glory to Allah). I swear I have never seen so many shooting stars. I lost count. Although cliche, the silence was utterly deafening. My ears became full with the humm in the air.
Whether you look out into the Ocean, or up at the Stars or down from the Mountains something unexplainable, but very real, stirs beneath your skin. All your "problems" melt away, like ice left in the sun and then somehow you feel free. The feeling is euphoric and satisfying but short lived. Just as your mind is about to rest, the hairs on your body stand and the realization of how small you are hit you like a ton of bricks. Your heart sees something the eyes cannot and you can't help but wonder "what is my purpose?", "why am I here?" What is it about the earth, nature, environment that makes you ask yourself the tough questions?
Its times like this, when I want to express/translate what I feel into words, that I realize how limited language can be. I can only say that the night spent in the desert will never be forgotton. I slept beneath a zillion bright stars in complete and total silence of the earth and for a moment, although fleeting, I connected with something.