15th January 2016
While wandering the world's largest sand-dune desert at night-time, Cally delights in shooting stars along with some entertaining little creatures on the desert floor. Cally is just back from tour leading our Oman Desert Christmas Adventure and reflects upon her time in the Empty Quarter.
Our dining needs were certainly well looked after whilst camping under the starry Arabian sky. Our meals consisted of delicious fresh crab, various local fish straight off the boat, dahls, soups, chicken and vegetables cooked on the fire and curries. All of this lovely cuisine was prepared and cooked from the back of our jeep by our local guide; a feat to rival any chef equipped with a full catering kitchen! We were so impressed by the culinary standard that we felt Khalid should write a cook book. A campervan hot pot spin off with an Omani desert twist. We reasoned that our exertions in putting up our tents under the hot sun and climbing up sand dunes allowed for our extra rations, most notably in the bread quadrant!
After dinner I took to wandering off away from the glow of the campfire to allow my eyes to become more accustomed to the night and to hopefully witness some shooting stars. Each night, bar one, I was fortunate enough to see the stars dropping out of their home in their sky and disappearing into nothingness. During one of my nighttime jaunts I was greeted by the sound of what can only be described as 'snap, crackle and pop'. I turned on the torch to see the owners of this sound scurrying away under rocks or scuttling back into the rock pools. These sand crabs provided me with entertainment for quite sometime as I watched them picking tiny shells to eat and dancing to and fro to avoid my beam of light.
On our nights in the Empty Quarter, which stretches 650,000 squared km of contiguous sand, making it the largest in the world, I was greeted with a beautiful stillness. Walking up and over these exquisite coloured dunes of deep orange and pale white, away from any audible sound of life, I found the noise of my breath was soothing for my soul. There is an amazing peace that washes over you in this vast and open place where nature rules and the society you have come from feels very far indeed. As there is no external stimulation that I am surrounded with on my own turf, I instead journey inwards more readily. I feel like I have gotten lost in the desert for a time far longer than the mere few days spent here. There is something truly special about the limitless and stillness of this environment; it mirrors the inner landscape, and when one stops and listens long enough, away from the monkey chatter of the mind, and all you hear is the beating of your heart and a sense of infinite peace.