“... The days were long, and travelling was not without challenge and a certain resilience of the body and of the mind.
I had never been any braver than anyone else growing up and I certainly never stood out from the crowd as a more capable man...But still, I was making my way across the Sahara, accompanied by none other aside from the occasional tradesman and the two camels that I bought with the few coins I was able to spare in Algeria.
Solitude is no life for a man and thus nature became a friend.
Its gentle breathes and mystical force became my guide as I ventured not for the shortest routes, but for the ones that called to me most.
My journey was not planned or scheduled, I had nowhere to be and had no one waiting for me. That was the beauty of it.
Armed with a map, compass, and a fine mechanical watch which has never skipped a beat, all I knew was where I was and what direction I wanted to go. Cairo and the River Nile.
I travelled for days and weeks as my route took me across the border between Algeria and Lybia.
Anouar’s stories kept replaying in my head and everywhere I looked I envisioned these lands as they once were, occupied by great civilizations, now gone and almost forgotten as the desert buries their ancient cities in a final goodbye.
Libya was a country which I knew very little about and this ignorance fuelled my curiosity.
My travels through Libya lead me through the magnificence of the Acacus mountains, a time capsule of our ancestral past.
I wished Anouar was here to witness them with me, but the drawings on the canyon’s walls told the stories themselves. Tales of lands once rich in vegetation, roaming with giraffes and elephants as thriving cultures danced to the sound of their own music.
I continued my journey East through the dry Libyan desert. A number of Oasis and Tuareg camps on the way enabled me to rest and to eat. The Tuareg People’s lifestyle astonished me, for what I had been doing for a matter of weeks, was their way of life.
In one of the camps, I met an old man called Lounes.
His curiosity was only surpassed by his friendliness and happy nature. He looked to be in his 80’s but I figured that his nomadic lifestyle made him look older than he was. I told him of my travels although he was more interested in my origins. We laughed as we compared our two cultures and as we talked about our own distorted visions of the world. He showed me their art as he crafted metals and leathers into fine jewellery and helped me make my own bracelet. He inscribed ‘Lounes’ on the inside, a friendly gesture which I assumed was for me to remember his name. I later learned that his name means ‘companionship’.
After spending a few days with him and his people, he showed me the trans-Saharan trade routes and I followed the one leading to Egypt.
I eventually reached Cairo where the might of the Pyramids of Giza left me speechless. I sat by the Nile, admiring these monuments, sights acting as a conclusion to my North African adventure. An adventure of companionship in which I learned that the most important lesson of my life: When the desert always looks similar, even in its indifference, no two views were the same; in humans, we may all look different, but even in our indifference, we are one and the same.
Reflecting on my memories brought tears to my eyes even though I knew, deep inside, that this was just the start of an adventure far bigger. “