Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter in the Sahara

Venturing into the Sahara during winter can be challenging. But as today's guest post from intrepid travellers, Mary Finnigan and partner Chris Gilchrist, shows - there is poetry to be found everywhere and at any time of year. 

Light glazes the dunes like honey - Photo Chris Gilchrist

"Four days in the Sahara fulfilled our R&R dreams like no previous holiday."  

We are middle aged and so were appreciative of the creature comforts offered by an impeccably managed and elegantly presented Moroccan guest house, Dar Daif. Situated three kilometres from the outskirts of Ouarzazate, Dar Daif is a short stroll from the shores of Lake Ouarzazate.

The RAMSAR wetlands - Photo Sandy McCutcheon
The lake is a RAMSAR designated wetland, teeming with bird life. We sat for hours in pleasant winter sunshine gazing at hundreds of cormorants and storks, alongside osprey, spoonbills, black wing stilts, ruddy shelduck, great crested grebes, ringed plover, many varieties of wheatear and wagtail.

Mary and Chris
We had two days of luxury either side of the bit in the middle that satisfied our craving for novelty and adventure. We camped, walked and rode with three camels and three Berber gentlemen - Echou the guide and Omar and Idir the camel men. Zaid the driver completed the ensemble.

Chris, dressed for comfort, stays warm
 The trek was glitch-free and enormously good fun. The stars at night, the silence of the days and the awesome beauty of the dunes are best captured in poetry and in pictures.

 Light glazes the dunes like honey, 
 melts them like wax, 
 fixes them harsh at noon, 
 draws lines with them at sunset, doubts them at night. 

 Wind and sand and powdered rock - 
 a life reduced to mere clinging at the surface, 
 thin as a camel's cough, 
 the sussurant shower of a small cascade of grains. 

 No body lives here; 
 all burn out, dry to wisps and curls of hair, 
 talismans of bone. 

 Fold upon fold, the voluptuous dunes 
 threaten a serpentine erotic embrace. 
 Sandriffs build a symphony 
 always fading away. 
A set of fading footsteps 
 is my only hope of return 
 to browsing camels, water, 
 the small fierce dry-wood fire 
 under the starless heft 
 of the ancient tamarisk. 

Poem by Chris Gilchrist 

 the ancient tamarisk 


Find out more about Dar Daif and the Ouazazate area here; Ouazazarte

Dar Daif is an old kasbah house. Owners Jean-Pierre Datcharry and his wife Zineb have recreated the feel of a desert caravanserai with richly coloured carpets, plants and artifacts. The guesthouse has been awarded La Cle Verte - one of a handful in Morocco - due to its ecologically sustainable practises.

Visit Dar Daif



Anonymous said...

Great atmosphere and a great poem. Thanks a million

Deb & Gary

Mikael said...

I loved the line " thin as a camel's cough". Such sparse fine writing. But what is "sussurant". None of my or my wife's dictionaries have the word. ???

Fatima Zohra said...

Chris your poem is wonderful