Posts Tagged: desert

strike down by the desert

This is one of last year participants personal story about the sahara experience. I love it and just in case you want to find out about yourself, let me know.

Ever heart the saying: “Send him to the desert’?” Where that might come from?
When I told my family and friends that I was about to walk through the desert, I was questioned: „Why would anyone walk so far?”, „Isn’t that meaningless?”, “That’s totally dangerous!”. When I added that I was about to go there because of work, they just felt pity for me and I already had the feeling that the trip was going to be worth it.

Actually I did not come back as a better person. I just remained myself.

I spent two of my days in desert on a camels back, riding or whatever you would call it. I think, it’s no difference if you sit in a small dinghy in a storm on the Ocean or suffer completely exhausted on such a desert ship longing for home. It rocks like hell.
I have a job in which a project is chasing the other and my rest periods on the weekends had not been sufficient anymore. While my mind was still in the last project, I already had to deal with the next. Nothing unusual nowadays. I’m already doing this job for quite some years. I changed the company lately. No big deal, I thought, but still it felt so damn wrong. I had the feeling that I’m not happy with my boss and it won’t work out well.

The desert trip, if I stay with this topic, was a way for me, to let all the thoughts that rushed through my mind come and go. I had the time and the space to think a thought from beginning to end and learn to accept. That worked for me.
I thought I need the full five days to deal with myself, but after two days of thinking I had it figured out and then the heat hit me, almost knocked me out. So I spent the next two and a half days learning yet another dimension of the desert on the camels back. I did not expect that to happen. Although I felt much better, I was now separated from the group. Well, it was a strike down by the desert.

It wasn’t before I was back home that I realized how much that small corner of the world had inspired and enriched my life.
There is so much to tell about diversity, experiences with nature and his own body, with people who just show up out of the nowhere and disappear back into the desert, about habits that are important to know, about communication and …
All this is accompanied in the wonderful, personal and professional way of Florian!

Jan R.

thankful for the moment

I just spent my last week in Sahara with the members of „sahara experience III“. My intention was and is to show others how different life can be. Even I forget, that everything I do in my life, I do by free choice. In almost every case I have the choice to do something different or to not do it at all. I just have to live with the consequences.

I focus on all the little things me and others keep complaining about. Situations that we would so much like to be different. I try to remind myself that it is still my own choice to react the way I want to.
What I keep forgetting though, is how much we managed to keep our world in its boundaries in the western world. We can barely imagine a power cut, not to talk about anything severe. In my everyday life, the worst thinghappening to me is that I lose my internet connection. I rarely think about other people on this planet, who don’t live in such a technological world and how they have to deal with the powers of nature.
After we arrived in M’Hamid, a week ago, the sun was still shining and then the weather turned slowly into a heavy sandstorm that day. I still thought that this was a one day sandstorm that will disappear again after some hours and well, fortunately it did.
Unfortunately it came back every day with one big difference. From the following morning on we were in the desert and headed directly into the direction the wind (and all the sand) came from. I had a feeling that I normally don’t have. I was helpless. I hated the sand in my eyes, I hated the sand in my nose, I hated the sand in my lungs. All I wanted to do was hide from it, but I couldn’t. I had to move against it. Resting didn’t really help either. Preparing food was like playing in the sand. In the night the sandstorm slowed down, to come back every now and then leaving loads of sand in my sleeping bag. Even when I woke up, I was chewing on sand. Nothing helped but to become stoic. Just keep on moving and hope for the storm to settle down. On the evening of the third day it settled down. The sky cleared up and we had the first night with stars shining. In the end, we had a remarkable experience and could enjoy the clear nights with music around the fire even more. We knew that it wasn’t for granted.
I suppose this is the way the world goes round. It’s not always and everywhere sunshine. Sometimes problems occur and you have to go through hard times. It doesn’t help to hide from your problems. That won’t make them better. The only way to deal with them is to face them and work your way through. Once they lie behind you, it is even nicer to enjoy the smooth times. You deserve it because you made it through and that feels good.
If you manage to think about that, you will live a happier life.
I hope, that, when everything runs smooth for me, I will always remember not to take that for granted and that I’ll always be thankful for the moment.
Now I am enjoying Taghazout in Morocco for one week. No sandstorm and nowhere to walk. Just time to relax, organize, plan ahead and write.
I am thankful to be here.

it is such a boring place… and that is the point

Next Sahara Experience starts on April 16th and there are only three places left. Here is some inspiration from the school of life:

m’hamid under water

Three weeks ago, I thought I would simply fly to Agadir, take a night bus to Zagora and a Taxi to M’Hamid to visit my friend Yahya and walk for one week through Sahara’s heat. I ended up in the rain at the Atlantik coast, in a surfers hot spot, in an overfull minibus in Sahara, at a river where no river is, freezing in the desert, out of five nights in a row three in a bus or a plane.

How did that happen? As I wrote on one of my previous posts, southern Morocco was pretty much under water and all the streets going further south were closed. So I ended up working some days in a small surfers hot spot called Taghazout. Since I had enough work to be finished, I enjoyed the Wifi I found at any café and my hostel.
When the weather settled down and the sun was shining the second day in row some roads toward Ouarzazate and Zagora were cleared and I took the nightbus there. Although traveling in the night I could tell that bridges were damaged and the street at some places went over dirttracks. I was really surprised that obviously the buses in Morocco not only drive without Airconditioning in the summer but also without heating in the winter. I pretty much froze my butt off. In Zagora I tried to pick the „Grand Taxi“ to Zagora which are special enough. But since the two bridges between Zagora and Taghonite were destroyed it looked at first if I couldn’t find a way to get there… Two Moroccan tried to sell me a 4×4 trip right away, but I thought, that if a 4×4 can find a route there will be others who drive there with their normal cars. I was right and found a minibus. These are the normal Mercedes transporter with seats, plastic chairs and wooden benches in it. That way 22 people fit in one car and tons of stuff on the roof. Off we went for 2,80€ three hours mostly off road to M’Hamid.
There I was and as unbelievable as it seemed to me M’Hamid was now divided by a large and three meter deep river. Unfortunately local officials decided to rebuilt the bridge over that river. It was without water for years now. A day after the old one was torn down, it started raining and the river came back. Since the normal desert inhabitant can’t swim and boats are normally not built in the desert there was no way to go from the one side to the other. To help the other side with food army trucks were going a 150KM detour route to find the next bridge.
Outside the little town the desert was covered with greens and rocks seemed to be covered by velvet greens. Even the highest dunes were completely wet as soon as you dig more than three cm. As soon as I was in the shade, clouds covered the sun or it was becoming night I started freezing a lot. I wore everything I had with me and was so happy I had my 0°C down sleeping bag with me.
My friends’ desert camp was flooded, destroyed and swam away just days earlier. He showed me the video of the helicopter coming to rescue the Swiss guest who called the Swiss Ambassador to rescue them, sitting in a tent on top of the dunes… leaving the Moroccan back. They just waited another day and walked back to M’Hamid. Obviously the Swiss had an appointment they needed to make.
We discussed until late in the night, what needs to be done before new year. They have bookings but no camp and Dec/Jan is the most important season for the desert camp.
I once again learnt to put things into perspective. What is an appointment you have to make compared to your whole existence? Especially if you consider the costs of the evacuation (Switzerland has to pay) being more expensive than the rebuilding of the whole camp will be.
And still… all my friends had to say about it: I’m neither happy nor sad, it is the way it is and we just figure out how to proceed. For sure, you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow…

how you put giraffe in fridge – 3 steps

I am on my way into the desert again. After the heaviest rainfall in southern Morocco that people can remember it seems as if the desert is not only green, but as if I will be able to go for swim. The situation will be something absolutely new and I am excited what I will learn out of this trip.

Traveling by foot in Sahara is an act of meditation and focus on the easiness of life. When waking up, you can neither go to the kitchen nor to the next bakery. If you want a coffee you have to make fire first.
When you walk, there is no distraction. Landscape changes only as fast as you walk. That will be about the fastest movement you will see during the whole trip, unless you try to catch a wild donkey, which I tried last time. I tell you. They are way faster than you expect.
All you do in the evenings is stare in the fire or to the stars. And you can tell or listen to stories. Last time we heard the following question one night: How do you put a giraffe into fridge in three steps? Do you have an idea? Write the answer in the comments.
As this trip is relying so much on simplicity I tried to to realize the most simple packing list I ever travelled with. I am carrying the following with me:

  • trekking backpack
  • runners backpack
  • thin mattress
  • sleeping bag
  • soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, towel, scissors, razor blades
  • sewing kit
  • Ducktape
  • one pair Chala-Sandals
  • one pair of socks
  • two undershorts
  • two T-shirts
  • one short pair of pants
  • one long pair of pants
  • one longsleeve
  • one hoodie
  • one hardshelljacked
  • one blue tuaregturban
  • two buffs
  • one short runners tights
  • stove
  • gasbottle
  • multitool
  • headlamp
  • onepan
  • one pot
  • one mug
  • salt
  • spoon
  • fork
  • water bottle
  • drinking bag 10l
  • paper tissue
  • MacBook Air
  • USB Internet Stick
  • cellphone
  • Gopro Hero
  • one writing blog
  • one pen

My plan is to fly directly to Tansania after the Saharatour and travel through east Africa for two week. After that I will stay on the Islands of Sansibar for Christmas, New Years and my birthday. I want to live simple, run a lot and find my time for writing. All of that under the African sky and in front of the Indian Ocean. It is a test I will write about…

Keep in mind: next edition will be April 16th to 23rd 2015