The destination was Morocco. I had packed my rucksack with all the survival gear I would need – first aid kit, water bottle, walking socks, energy bars for endurance and a map just in case I got lost. Admittedly there would be a guide and about fifteen other Americans with me but I took no chances. I had been to the doctor’s to get all the necessary jabs but let’s be honest this was not some tri-athlete event through death valley. It was a silent walk through the Sahara Desert. Of course it would be tough but the camels would carry the heavy stuff and we had two land-rovers to go up front and set up camp. The modern day quest had removed some of the struggle from the struggle. The struggle these days being customs, lack of air conditioning, and whether one would obtain food poisoning when bravely attempting an exotic delicacy.
(These stories are part of a wider collection of life stories that go from my child-hood days at a boarding school for military personnel, through to the ecstatic rave years, and onto a myriad of spiritual retreats and life experiences. Please click through and flick through my journey so far)
The days leading up to my desert trek whizzed by as I prepared myself with extra cycling classes at the local gym to acclimatize myself. Mara wished me all the best on my desert adventure and promised she would request prayers to be said for me in some Hindu monastery. Prayers indeed. It’s just a walk in the park without words. Only the largest desert on the planet. If Lawrence could do it, so could I. I made my way to the airport chewing over the past couple of years. I wondered whether the spiritual path would cure me of all my ills. As if each step on my way should eradicate the problems of my life. The gnawing loneliness and ghosts could be laid to rest out there in no man’s land. After the tussle of customs I could lay my bag beside me and wait for the flight to board.
The flight itself was a welcome separation from reality. The in-flight meals, plenty of wine and endless Hollywood movies served to distract me from the coming adventure. I downed another glass of wine as I watched the digital plane blip its way across the screen to North Africa. I immersed myself in the on-flight movie, ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ ‘There is the railway. And that is the desert. From here until we reach the other side, no water but what we carry with us. For the camels no water at all. If the camels die, we die. And in twenty days they will start to die.’ Lawrence was dressed in his white flowing robes looking out into the emptiness of the desert. ‘There’s no time to waste, then, is there?’ said Lawrence. I leaned back in my seat and ordered myself another glass of red wine.