(The Sahara desert.)
There is some ethereal quality about the silence of the desert.
It is a silence that has an ascribed spiritual power within its nothingness; strange and compelling, it demands absolute attention from all those within its vast obliviousness.
So it was with our small group of miscellaneous travellers; a rather odd assortment of people. all who had chosen to spend a night under the stars, to have the opportunity of watching the sun rise over the dunes in the morning.
Our guides set a makeshift camp while we tourists frolicked like children on the sand dunes with snowboards and skies. Until, like errant children, we were summoned to dinner by a loud shout from one of our guides.
In a somewhat random and ragtag manner we collected our toys and reluctantly, but dutifully made our way towards the fire and the smell of roasting meats and freshly baked flatbreads. Unlike children however, the prime choice of beverages were cold wine, chilled beer, gin and whiskey, all with clinking cubes of ice.
After the meal or fire-roasted meats, tabbouleh, freekeh salads, flatbread and tooma, we gathered around the fire to chat and watch the sun set, casting, as it did, an array of ever changing shadows over the orange sands as it sunk beyond the horizon, finally plunging the desert into a solid blackness. The only light was from our campfire and the few torches surrounding the site, flickering in the gentle night breeze.
This was the moment we all fell silent.
There was no logical reason. It was not planned, intended or organised; it was simply one of those shared, collective instances which happens on occasion.
I observed, as we sat there peering out of the camp into the deep darkness, staring totally mesmerised at the million, billion, trillion stars sparkling in the sky above, or just staring at the flickering flames of the camps fire, each and every one of us was, at that very moment, listening to the silence emanating from vast expanse surrounding us.
In an instance, we had all been touched by the essence of this great wilderness. I could see, in the eyes of my companions, the deep contemplation of their minds, their mental acceptance as the assimilation of earth and spirit was recognised.
I know the moment was so, as after we were disturbed from our collective meditations by a guide returning with further refreshments, the topic of conversation became that of the strangest recognition of our individual and personal awareness, to the mutual experience we had just shared.
I believe there are only a few places on earth which are wild enough to lend themselves naturally to such a spiritual encounter.
The desert is one of these few places.
If you ever have, even the slightest of opportunity to experience such vast blackness, to see so many stars in such silence, in such a vast and uninhabited place, do not hesitate.
You might even find yourself there.
You can read some of my short stories at