It is so quiet.

The stillness feels heavy and presses against my eardrums. I can’t see my 
path, and for a moment I’m completely disoriented. Do I have sure footing?
 Will I tumble over the edge with my next step? The land is devoid of 
shadows, except for my own grey outline, visible only by the pale light from 
a quarter moon. Standing in-between two massive dunes, a void surrounds us. 
A whisper rings out clearly.

It’s only when I return to the dune’s crest, and my eyes adjust fully to the
 darkness, that I can see the dips and ripples, the desert shrubs, and hear 
the trucks rumble along the highway. When I walked down the dune’s face, I
 could still hear and see everything around me. But halfway down, a moment 
came – almost like an epiphany, or as if someone pressed the pause button -
 where sound simply stopped, and the shadow of the second dune obliterated 
all light.

We drove out to the Hatta region of Dubai for a desert safari. If you ever
get the chance, I highly recommend it. It’s like extreme stunt car driving 
on a roller coaster. The dunes were so large, that at times our reinforced
land cruiser was tilted at 60 degrees while driving along the crest, and we 
had nearly vertical drops. As the car moves through sand, it kicks up 
waves. Each wave splashed against my window, and created swirls of dust 
that danced in the air. My imagination went wild, and I could see figures 
in these sand swirls, running along with us.

The driver would stop at times, allowing us to take in the scenery. The 
desert stretched out for miles, and while the nature of a desert is to be 
devoid, it is beautiful and filled with intricacies. We arrived after the 
late afternoon and stayed until after dark. The land was painted with blue
 shading and gold, and then with dark shadow and fire as the sun set. Some
 dunes were flat, desert shrubs grounded others, while ripples decorated a
 special few. At each moment, the yellow sand took on the colour from the 
sun, sky and shadow – it painted itself and was constantly changing. I
 found it breathtaking and inspiring and I even shed a tear for its beauty. 
But if you know me well, you know that I am obsessed with Frank
 Herbert’s Dune series – and being out in the desert was almost like entering 
the fictional world I love so much.

Looking out into the stillness and beauty of the desert really forces you to 
recognize your place in the universe — in the vastness you cannot help but 
to turn inward. It’s no wonder that so many prophets came from this place 
of meditation.
The evening ended with a camel ride and a bar-b-q. The camel was so grumpy!
 He grumbled and moaned while tourists tried to climb up on him. I had an
 ethical pro-animal rights moment and had to be talked into riding him. I 
said hello and received instruction on the best way to climb up on top, as I 
didn’t want to be too rude. Poor guy was already hot and annoyed. We rose 
so high when he stood up, and the ride was slow and comfortable. I even got 
to slide my hand in-between the saddle and patted his soft, warm furry hump.
 He didn’t seem to mind that.

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