I didn't do camping. “In my previous life…” I begin my sentences. “…I hated the sun,” “…I never exercised,” “…I kept my apartment cold and dark,” “…I disliked the outdoors,” and “…I didn't do camping.” One time my father suggested a family camping trip. My mother and I shared a sarcastic glance and she replied, “Sure! Where’s the nearest Hilton?”
When I was 13, I saw the ocean for the first time. And given that I had waited thirteen years for that moment, The Great Barrier Reef provided quite the pay-off. As camping experiences go, the Sahara Desert felt like a similar reward. In a way, it was like reliving my first ocean sighting. The same overwhelming vastness, the same humbling sense of smallness, the same fascinating calmness, where, for a moment, it could have been any point in history that I was standing in that spot, looking at that beauty. A desert today, an ocean millions of years ago.
On our second night, I laid on the sand, alone, under the stars. I have never seen so many stars, and I could not decide if they proved or denied the existence of God. Was I experiencing a justified religious connection or intense scientific evidence? Or was it some combination of the two? But the mesmerizing confusion of it all was comforting, because I felt sure of one thing: I am a different person now than I was four months ago. I am healthier, more daring, and deeply invested in new experiences. I dive in the Red Sea and sand-board along the dunes of the Sahara. And it doesn’t bother me that I haven’t had a shower in two days.
As my patience is tested, my feminism is diminished, my teaching is weathered, and my faith is confused, I have been strengthened in a type of faith that has been so difficult for me in the past—a faith that I can and will be a better, healthier person tomorrow than I was yesterday.
And I laid in the desert, considering my blessings…wondering what new, amazing first-time awaits me next.
|This is how we slept each night. Bedouin-style camping with our amazing bedouin guides.|
|The white desert almost looks like snow drifts.|
|Climbing a cliff in the black desert.|
|Softest sand we ever felt!|
|The "new" me. :-)|
|Rabbit rock formation. Kill the bunny!|
|This is Egypt.|
Thanks to Ahmed, our amazing guide. http://www.safari-oasis.com/