I spent one afternoon and very cold night camping in the Sahara. It was springtime, so daytime temperature was around 20°C at night it dropped to about 3°C
During the afternoon the sand was warm to touch but as the sun went down in the cloudless sky as expected the air temperature dropped but it was also notable that the sand did not hold any heat from the day.
The sand itself was a fine powder almost as smooth as flour and formed into small dunes. At first light the undulations looked like whales breaking the surface of a sea. As the day progressed the angle of the sun ‘flattened’ out the curves.
Every few minutes after before and after sunrise, while there was some light in the sky, the colour of the dunes changed from early morning glowing red to deep ochre to a pale, straw coloured, yellow when I left at lunchtime.
At one point as I walked through the desert I lost sight of the camp. Despite having gone no more than a kilometre at one point I felt very much alone and vulnerable, no doubt amplified by the absence of both sound and visual references.
I did record ‘sound’ out among the dunes. The wind blowing gently against the microphone and bird chirping somewhere in the distance – athough I did not see a tree anywhere. When I listened back I realised that I was whispering into the microphone like I didn’t want to disturb the silence I was experiencing.
An altogether eerie but strangely uplifting experience.