At night the stars seemed to pierce the entire sky. More then a little upset, I was there without my sister. My now very married cousin was having her ceremony, and I remained halfway around the world. Instead I stayed up nights talking to a dreadlocked Jewish stoner. I chopped pallets for wood and walked into town to buy oatmeal and bread, asking for "shtay kabbalot". Two reciepts. Still the extent of my Hebrew. I walked to the edge of Mtizpe Ramon's canyon-like crater and marvelled as the sun came up. I learned poi from, and made American hashbrowns for, a vegetarian hippi who camped with us.
I would wander outside the palm frond fence and sit on the old car seat. Paco, who looksed like he should be pulling a sled through the tundra, would bark around my feet. The landscape almost was tundra-like. Long rolling stretches of bare land sprinkled with stone. I rarely wore shoes around the camp.
It wasn't my first experience with desert. Arizona, Texas, Mexico roadtrips has left them one of my lesser favourite forms or terrain. There was something different here. Maybe it was slowing down that had the calming effect, but I think it was sleeping outside at night. During the day I laughed at everything. I wasn't high, but everything was funny. All I had to worry about was that there was enough wood for the fire and that the bathroom sink was clean enough in case any guests showed up. At night, wrapped in a thick sweater we would talk. Myself and Sason and any guests staying. Memorable characters who's names I can still recall. Andy, the other Canadian, Mark the British preacher, the lesbian couple.
Sason was my best friend for four weeks. I can't pronounce his last name, and I have no idea where he is now. But for that month we talked about everything. Maybe it's because we knew we'd never see each other again.
A left healed in so many ways I'd been waiting for. Ready to see the rest of the world.
It was something about the desert. Something so calming. Something in that dry barren waste land and the raw elements. The candle light and that wide open sky.
This concept cemented itself for me over the next month. Eating Magoobla with Bedouin, a philosophical Phillipino American and an underage Belgian in a stunning Jordan desert. Long desert walks where we managed not to get lost. Smoking nargilah before the four of use would fall asleep around the fire, full of sweet Bedouin tea. Watching the early venus sink towards the horizon.
Camping in the Egyptian white desert. The Jeep ride out. Arab drum beats into the dark. Jumping off the pure white drifts to get captrued in the sunset. A polite Japanese with infinitely cool hair and a crazy middle aged Swiss lady who was strung-out on something. She sobered up eventually, but never quite got sane.
I love the desert now. I'm still a Rocky Mountain girl at heart. Home is a river, a lake, a field surrounded by white peaks. But the idea of sleeping on sand beneath a stretched canvas of stars calms my soul like nothing else.