Thursday, March 5, 2015

Desert Adventures in Qatar

Sarah jumping on top of a sand dune, with Saudia Arabia in the background.

There is a simple, yet distinct beauty, I have discovered, that belongs to a desert. The vast, open sky empties any signs of boundaries or hindrances because nothing obstructs one's vision. Anything seems possible because there is a limitless horizon surrounding you. At the top of a sand dune, one can feel a sudden clarity of perspective--with the wide expanse of sand that strips away extraneous, irrelevant concerns. If there is a sunset or ocean view in the scope, all the better. To merge the everlasting horizons of sand, water, and sky together, with no other obstructions, is a view that reveals we are indeed part of a shared cosmos. Wendall Berry, a favorite poet and essayist, describes one of those moments: "And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."

A Middle East desert can be liberating, even alluring, but it is also full of contradictory surprises that can be hilariously unpredictable and entertaining. One can even be unexpectedly invited to tea at a remote Arabic movie set in the middle of the desert. In typical Qatar fashion, we have stumbled upon some amusing, but beautiful discoveries in our explorations. Each time we drive home, we all marvel at the captivating beauty of the desert, laughing, but sometimes reflecting, at what we have chanced upon in our travels.

                              Lessons from the Desert:

1) Every bush or tree is a special revelation, a new grace all its own.

2) As long as one has a supply of replenishing water, the desert holds a stunning splendor. Unexpected beauty is on each crest or plateau of sand, if you watch for it.

3) You can be entertained by unforeseen friends in surprising places in a desert.  Travelers and sojourners who were strangers minutes before can quickly be friends. Desert nomads know the desert can bring harsh conditions so provisions are freely shared and given--even to strangers.

4) There is a simplicity found in desert living, a deliberate choice to live in a more uncluttered, uncomplicated way. The desert sheds pretension.  One realizes there are so many things that are unneeded and unnecessary; a traveler cannot carry everything on one's back.                           


No snow in Qatar this year so we have sufficed to make sand a winter sport.





























www.qm.org.qa/en/project/east-west-west-east-richard-serra

6 comments:

  1. The desert truly does have it's own kind of beauty. In Tucson, the desert is different that in the Middle East, but I learned to love it. We looked forward to the summer rains that allow the cacti to bloom and cleanse the air. When the heat felt like a hair dryer, we played on the playground at night. A different world...

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    1. I like what you said about the heat feeling like a "hair dryer." Absolutely true!

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  2. Yes, The desert has it's own beauty !! To see the sunrise or sunsets are amazing. I too live in the desert however I am still in Calif. The sun is bright, the sky is blue and the air is clean, what more could a person ask for !! The desert is something that grows on you, would not want to go back to city life. Enjoy every moment !!

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  3. Yes, there is a freeing beauty in the desert. I am glad you can live there.

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  4. I loved every picture! Will you tell us about your observations on the food there? I love hearing about your adventures Maryan!

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    1. Sure, I will write a blog another blog on food. I am going to Basal and Myerling soon. I will tell The Alps hello for you....

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