From the Sahara to DC in a day

Sleeping in the tent, shoulder to shoulder, the wind flapped the tent and the smallest of the sand particles somehow made it through the berber carpet walls and plastered themselves onto me (remember, I was sleeping against the wall). When I woke in the morning, I looked like a ghost. I was completely covered in sand as fine as flour, and had it in every crevasse and orifice of my body. It was days after I arrived back in Virginia before I couldn’t blow any more sand out of my nose. At least the wind had died down, and I could open my eyes and enjoy the camel ride back. I couldn’t believe that I’d be home tomorrow afternoon after having done this today. The guides cooked us bread and coffee over the fire, and we packed up the camels and went back. Drove about 6 hours back to XXXXX, then 1.5 to XXXXX. We were all exhausted by now (8pm) but had an evening of activities planned, including finishing packing B’s apartment and getting to the airport by 5am. We also went to B’s friend Muhammed Ali’s house and had cous cous with his family around midnight. He lives in a very poor neighborhood (called “popular city”, which I guess means “populated” not popular in the fashion sense) and is pretty poor himself. In XXXXX, most people retire early, not because they have the money but because their kids are old enough to work and I guess people just get old quickly. Muhammed was probably my age, was in college or had recently graduated, and was struggling to...

From the Sahara to DC in a day

Sleeping in the tent, shoulder to shoulder, the wind flapped the tent and the smallest of the sand particles somehow made it through the berber carpet walls and plastered themselves onto me (remember, I was sleeping against the wall). When I woke in the morning, I looked like a ghost. I was completely covered in sand as fine as flour, and had it in every crevasse and orifice of my body. It was days after I arrived back in Virginia before I couldn’t blow any more sand out of my nose. At least the wind had died down, and I could open my eyes and enjoy the camel ride back. I couldn’t believe that I’d be home tomorrow afternoon after having done this today. The guides cooked us bread and coffee over the fire, and we packed up the camels and went back. Drove about 6 hours back to XXXXX, then 1.5 to XXXXX. We were all exhausted by now (8pm) but had an evening of activities planned, including finishing packing B’s apartment and getting to the airport by 5am. We also went to B’s friend Muhammed Ali’s house and had cous cous with his family around midnight. He lives in a very poor neighborhood (called “popular city”, which I guess means “populated” not popular in the fashion sense) and is pretty poor himself. In XXXXX, most people retire early, not because they have the money but because their kids are old enough to work and I guess people just get old quickly. Muhammed was probably my age, was in college or had recently graduated, and was struggling to...

Eating sand, sleeping with rats

(I’ve broken this post up into the actual days they occurred, in real life I had no time nor light with which to write in my journal between waking up in Sidi Driss and flying back home 3 days later… the next 3 days were crazy and sleepless- you’ll see!) I awoke with a startle sometime in the middle of the night, sleeping out in the open courtyard at Sidi Driss, with the strange feeling someone is watching you. It was pitch black outside, but I could hear the sounds of the other guys sleeping around me. Listening a little closer, I heard the sound of someone whispering in Arabic. Then a few seconds of silence. More whispering. Straining to see in the dark, I sit up and try to discern where the sound is coming from. Then I see him, in our courtard on the opposite side from us. Standing in the dark, talking on his cell phone. He ended his conversation at some point, and it must have taken me another 30 minutes to go back to sleep as I was kind of alarmed at first. Also at some point I saw a shadowy figure walking around the perimeter of the top of the courtyard, knocking some sand and rocks down on us. Then it climbed down the wall and leaped down next to our beds… a mangy cat. A couple hours later I awoke… still dark… and this time the wind has started to pick up and each gust brings a little bit of rain and sand down on us. I drag my bed back into...

Eating sand, sleeping with rats

(I’ve broken this post up into the actual days they occurred, in real life I had no time nor light with which to write in my journal between waking up in Sidi Driss and flying back home 3 days later… the next 3 days were crazy and sleepless- you’ll see!) I awoke with a startle sometime in the middle of the night, sleeping out in the open courtyard at Sidi Driss, with the strange feeling someone is watching you. It was pitch black outside, but I could hear the sounds of the other guys sleeping around me. Listening a little closer, I heard the sound of someone whispering in Arabic. Then a few seconds of silence. More whispering. Straining to see in the dark, I sit up and try to discern where the sound is coming from. Then I see him, in our courtard on the opposite side from us. Standing in the dark, talking on his cell phone. He ended his conversation at some point, and it must have taken me another 30 minutes to go back to sleep as I was kind of alarmed at first. Also at some point I saw a shadowy figure walking around the perimeter of the top of the courtyard, knocking some sand and rocks down on us. Then it climbed down the wall and leaped down next to our beds… a mangy cat. A couple hours later I awoke… still dark… and this time the wind has started to pick up and each gust brings a little bit of rain and sand down on us. I drag my bed back into...

Tatooine

Wow… where to begin. As I write this I am sitting in a cave in a massive hole in the ground called Sidi Driss. Luke Skywalker grew up here. Really. As I wrote below, we got up very early to catch the 0600 train to Sousse. It was a beautiful 2 hour ride from the far northern part of XXXXX to the central, east coast. Watched the sun rise over the olive groves. A funny thing happened on the way to Sousse. On this very bouncy, crowded train, B went up to get some coffee for himself and me. On his way back to my seat, the train lurched just as he was about to hand me the coffee, and he ended up dumping all over this poor arabic woman in the seat in front of me. B and I apologized as best we could, while trying to stifle a laugh since Cam was sitting beside me busting up. Poor lady. Anyhow, in Sousse we met up with CJ, another worker, and rented a small car to take us into the desert. It was a very tight squeeze, with 5 of us and our luggage. Sousse is cool, like a resort town on the ocean, very western, and far removed from the craziness of XXXXX. We headed south, through a billion olive trees on our way to El Jem, an awesome Roman Colliseum ruin, in the middle of nowhere. I bought some Coke bottles (to fill with sand from the Sahara) and a headress (see photo!) and handed out a few Jesus films and a bible. Ate lunch in...
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