Sitting astride the dromedary, one instantly understood their sobriquet as ‘ships of the desert’.
From the swaying yaw of their gait to the wooden creaking of the saddle, they broached the crescentic waves of the barchan like fully rigged clippers of old and one is cast adrift upon the seas of Saharan sand.
To resist this movement in any way is to set up an immediate discomfort, rather, one submits to the unfamiliar and becomes participant with an older way of travel.
These magnificent beasts of the caravanserai glide across the shifting sands with the patience of Job.
Each footfall was both grounded and fluid as we plied the invisible paths of the dunes. Here distance is measured in days not miles or kilometres.
For example, fifty days ahead of me, across the terrifying hyper-arid region known as ‘The Place Of Despair’, lay the near mythical city of Timbuktu once the great meeting point of Berber, Touareg and Bedouin.
Sadly, the imposition of borders that cut through tribal lands with no thought or respect have closed off this and many of the other old caravan routes.
Even the world of the nomad it seems is becoming ever more circumscribed by the narrow view of nation, flag and other such concepts of the pen and ruler.
The desert itself, however, knows of no such folly as it flows endlessly over imagined lines and buries fences under its unstoppable fluid might.
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Photos courtesy of the author.