Into the desert - Riki tiki tenga
Trip Start Feb 21, 2007
6Trip End Mar 02, 2007
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According to our Berber carpet salesman, the four elements of the desert are space, pure air, silence and emptiness. Elements that we relished - they were in such vast contrast to many of our other destinations.
After spotting the distant sand peaks rising out of the dust from our tour minivan, we turned off the sealed road and had a very bumpy hour in our tour van which violently hiccuped over every pot hole. I actually considered reworking my desert turban into head-padding because of the few centimetres that were separating me from a nasty collision with the van roof.
We arrived at the foot of the dunes and were suprised to see a lake, a perfect mirror, reflecting the golden sands. This is an AMAZING place. Put it on your to-go list.
The camels we hopped on didnīt smell nearly as bad as the ones I remember at Wellington Zoo. But...they do slobber, spit, burp and fart...a lot! The camel behind Nathan was very fond of him (not that I blame her of course) and gave him a "special souvenir", a very large drool mark on his pants.
After about an hour of tranquil camel riding into the desert punctuated with plenty of laughter at their manners, a group of us had a race with the sunset to climb a large dune behind our camp. The sunset won, and it was in semi-darkness, half way up the dune that I was approached by two young girls who I assumed where the daughters of the Berbers. One grabbed my hand and pulled me up a bit. She was obviously a daughter of the Sahara and her feet danced over the sand, not sinking like mine. When I decided to stop briefly (to admire the view, not that my legs were tired or anything), the daughter of the Sahara and her sister saw their prey. On either side of me, they pulled from nowhere two large plastic bags filled with wooden camels, Berber belts, jewellry, scarves. Half way up a sand dune in the dark was truly the last place I expected to hear a sales pitch!
At the summit, we sat under the moon and gazed at the shadows cast over the desert. I repeated the elements to myself: space, pure air, silence and emptiness. All were present.
Our tummies were filled on arriving back at the camp with a hot tangine and a drum party.
One of the most catchy songs they played is still going around in my head: "Riki, tiki, tenga".
Riki tiki tenga (Nathan found out later while chatting in a hamman) is some sort of tribute to wandering around. We have now adopted it as our own to mean go exploring or walkabout. eg. "Shall we rikitikitenga?Ļ
When I look at our pictures of the Erg Chebbi Dunes in the Sahara, they look surreal to me. This captures only a little of the surreal feeling of being there amongst them.