"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Bidon V & Tanezrouft

...eight years old when I crossed for the first time in a Land Rover the heart of the Sahara Desert called Tanezrouft.

Driving through the Sahara desert was not a piece of cake! On the back of an old Land Rover, sitting over suitcases covered with a thick carpet and mattresses, bouncing up and down during 10 days!!!

"No complain, we have the outstanding advantage of taking our own vehicle" would my uncle repeat wearily every time we opened our dry mouth to complain!

The school was over and we were ready for the adventure. I went to bed early but I just couldn't sleep. The excitement was too great.

4 a.m and were all packed on the back of the Land Rover, ready to start the big adventure. We were four Mums, 12 children (from 6 months old to 12 years old), and three Dads.

Niamey to Tillaberi
Tillaberi to Gao
Gao to Kidal
Kidal to Tassalit
Tassalit to Bordj el Mokhtar
Bordj el Mokhtar to Reggane
Reggane to...we made it... the oasis!!

Tanezrouft is the portion of the Sahara Desert located north of the Niger River Bend and south of the Algerian oasis of Adrar. There is nearly no water resources, which makes it difficult for animal caravans to cross. The plains are covered by sand dunes called ergs.

For centuries, caravaneers like my grandfather have travelled through the same oasis. Oases made trade possible between Algeria, Niger, and Mali. These wet rest stops for camels and humans made the crossing of the Tanezrouft’s desert possible. So, these oases made it possible for caravaneers to stock up on water and to bargain for food for the rest of the trip.

In the day, they would find a refuge from the hot sun and they would put their turbans, which were 16m of white cotton fabric, to protect their head, their eyes, and their mouths from the hot scorching desert wind. Otherwise, the khamsin, the wind which sweeps the desert from March through May, would fill their noses, their mouths, and their ears with sand and it would tear their breath apart.

It took us 10 days (I think...) to cross the whole Tanezrouft Desert. Our Desert trip started from Niamey. Then, we arrived at Gao, Mali during the night and we spent the night there.

The next day, we started crossing the silent Saharan spaces where we did not meet a single Bedouin tent for five days. When the sun began to set, we pulled up to the first tarmac at Bidon V. We spent nights on the dunes of sand with the only company of shining stars. We did appreciate the coolness of the night because during the day the temperature soared above 50 degrees Celsius.

The wind and sand together entered the Land Rover and burnt our skin. The long turban protected our nose and lungs from the individual grains of sand. I woke up before dawn to contemplate the horizon. I wrapped my turban around my head and over my face, covering my nose and mouth because the dry air craked my skin and lips and I sat still listening to silence...

To be Continued...

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