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Holiday, friendship and “meditation retreat” (fourth post)

This brief fourth Moroccan blog post describes some of the first day in the desert.

a few clouds catching the sunlight

Waking this morning in the encampment ... desert dawn ... a few clouds catching the sunlight ... people slowly emerge from their tents.  Camels wandering.  Packing up gradually.  Breakfast.  Then heading out through scattered tamarisk trees.  We've agreed we'll try walking mostly in silence.  Settling.  Relaxing the body.  Being aware of the surroundings.

We walk for three or so hours with occasional brief stops.  We're spoiled.  Eight of us, five  Berber guides, and eight camels.  We walk, but only carrying light packs.  The camels carry tents, food, water.  Lunch is really delicious - a salad, with beans, sardines and oranges.  The salad a great colourful plate of chopped tomato, pepper, cucumber and onion.  Water.  Green tea.  And now siesta.  I initially try to write more about this morning's meditative walking, but I find the writing "doesn't come".  We lie and talk, eight of us lying side by side in the shade of a small tamarisk "grove" that's probably one multi-trunked tree.  The sand around the grove is painfully hot to walk in barefoot.  I'm feeling a bit unsettled - partly maybe the changing gear from busy life to this simple hour by hour existence.

Later, several of us leave the camels and walk with a good deal of effort across soft small dunes to a old, now disused, nomad cemetery and the one-roomed dwelling where a holy man used to live many years ago.  Then back with twilight coming on.  Supper by a campfire.  The Berbers come to drum and sing.  We clap and join in.  Then slipping into sleeping bags.  Well tucked up.  The nights are surprisingly cold.


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