… is one of my favorite books from Douglas Adams.
Wait! This post is not about Douglas Adams, however – it is ABOUT ONE SPECIFIC last chance to see.
Hopefully, it will be possible at any time to do one of my trips again. Namely the one I did last year in the „Western Dessert“ of Egypt. It was amazingly incredible!
But: If you didn’t read „Last chance to see“, yet, you should definitely grab a copy!
It is one of his books that he himself liked most, though not one of his best-sellers like „The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“.
For me it is his best kept secret!
If you are curious about the book: It’s a travel report about maybe the „last chance to see“ some of the most endangered animals in places all over the world. Douglas Adams did the trip together with his friend Mark Carwardine, a well known BBC reporter, zoologist and photographer.
What I love most: They observe and describe the scenes and places so well and also in such a funny way – it always made my day!
Back to my story. I’ve waited one and a half years to write it.
Now I now why for sure:
Some months after this journey it was not clear if I should recommend it, because I didn’t know whether it was save to do it or not.
Now I am absolutely clear about it: It is not advised to do the trip right now!
We have been away from civilization for almost 11 days.
Our route went along the greatest and longest dune of the world: The „Ghurd Mubrarek Dune“.
Right at the beginning, while revealing its name, I do have to shout out a WARNING! It is currently not advised to take a trip into Egypt’s Western Dessert. The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs strictly and explicitly doesn’t recommend it. Just have a look at their site for updates. I always trust their expertise (and my good senses) on my travels.
Sadly, just after my stay, it slowly but steadily became more unstable.
Half a year ago (2015-09-13) a tourist group got killed accidentally by the military during an anti-terrorist operation. It is now within a military zone that can change every day.
While doing this trip, it was still allowed with a special permission.
I am not reckless, perhaps just a little crazy, which is part of my job. 😉
Back to the story:
You can even see the dune from as far away as the moon with its long sandy formations. Not bad 😉 Sometimes seeing things from a distance may help.
I decided to let the pictures speak. They are showing their own story:
Once you enter the dessert you will fall in love with it.
The calmness, the sun, its various forms of beauty is what I love as a designer. You detect different shapes and structures with each new step.
And in the end you want to come back – immediately. And you will return.
But at the beginning, on your first couple of days, you will count the days for sure.
You will be asking yourself when this long and hard track will finally be over and whether you will stay healthy to reach its end.
The secret: You have to befriend yourself with the sand. Do not underestimate its power!
Yes, it was remote:
No city, not even a hut. Nothing, not even a fountain. But one time we met people – some smugglers (very exiting). No oasis, no green – oh ,stop: I got a desser flower as a present from a very dear friend I had met on this trip. She found it in the middle of nowhere. (This will get my next story about „Resilience“)
I always used the short time well between pitching my tent and our delicious dinner. Our meals in the dessert were always very good – and far from civilization a real luxury. And the best: Everything was prepared for us, we were guests, every evening.
Andrea, our travel guide, told us, that for the Bedouins it was very important that we were „guests“ to them. They are very open, hospitable and friendly.
We didn’t have to move an inch anymore – (except for pitching our tents, washing up and going back to our tents very late in the evening) … I used to restore myself and fix my feet in this tiny little break between pitching and the evening meal.
I had to take care of my brave feet and legs which walked me 20 to 28 km every day – through sand and dunes. In this terrain, 20 km feel more or less like 40 …
Tape, blistering plaster and zinc foam (magnificent for healing some sorts of smaller wounds within one night) became my best companions. I think the picture above looks worse than it actually was. I just taped a blister – OK – a big one 😉
But after this treatment I could keep on walking in my big boots.
Walking through sand is very hard by itself, but over dunes it is even harder.
Just take a look at these deep steps! Also, going up and down dunes again and again is quite challenging.
Do you remember my first sentence? You have to become the desert’s best friend!
But all of these strains dissolve when you enjoy the great view and discover these new perspectives.
And then of course: Jump from a dune! It is pure fun.
I’ve recently learned this in my ballet lessons. No, not jumping from a dune with a „Tutu“ 😉
I mean to constantly keep on smiling while performing. But relaxing your jaw really softens the effort. Sooner or later everything becomes more easy.
Just try it!
I always loved the dunes, because the joy was greater than the effort! Of course, everyone felt tired after a long walk when we reached our next camp.
You’ll get better at walking as your resilience grows with every day. Of course you need some basic endurance to walk for eleven days without longer breaks.
I also always had some adrenaline rush when walking on the top of the dunes, because I’m a little afraid of heights.
Sometimes, the dunes are very steep. But the good thing: Nothing could really happen (at least I told myself).
Usually, the sand is very soft so you can’t really hurt yourself . I’ve testet it on some small dunes. Then I got more courageous: But the terrain suddenly changed from hard to soft, so I stumbled while jumping and running. But nothing really happened, because it was like falling into a deep hole of feathers except for the sand that will be everywhere afterwards. 😉
The secret of falling is not to be afraid of it. This I learned just recently from an other ballet princess (this is my second dancing secret) during a Modern Dance session while jumping and rolling over the ground.
You have to relax your muscles somehow. I am still working on my Angst to hurt myself being too relaxed, though!
I made myself believe that if I would fall off this dune while walking on its peak nothing could really happen to me.
And I enjoyed the rush of Adrenalin 😉 – like a tickle in the stomach. This is MY secret 😉
Believe it or not: I felled alive, restored and powerful at the end of the 11 days!
And of course: There are much, much more stories to tell 😉
Thanks so much, Andrea!
Keep your dreams alive!