Sand Sea Symphony

Namib Desert, itís 6 oíclock, right before sunrise. Iím on my soulful, solo journey to Dead Vlei (valley). My old worn out shoes remember many treks, but today they are climbing Big Daddy, one of the highest dunes on Earth. Iím taking my small camera and a big bottle of water. In the dunes I only need Ďbare necessitiesí. Fresh, cool air fills my lungs. The blue sky is so clear that I canít imagine it to be clearer. Iím surrounded by mountains of orange sand. The rising sun starts to touch the highest tops. I will be on time for a great spectacle of light. The sand is crisp and itís still easy to walk on in this flat stretch of the hike. The sea of sand still sleeps in the shadows. Yet, invading sunlight illuminates the dunesí ridges more and more. Iím picking up the pace - racing with the sun! I want to get to Dead Vlei before itís completely flooded with light. Today I want to watch it, as itís happening. Cool breeze adds to my zest. Itís quiet here. I feel like the only human on Earth, excitedly enjoying this solitude. Dead Vlei opens before me like a book. A surreal place, frozen in time, like an open-air gallery. Its clay floor Ďstuddedí with dried up acacias - leafless, barren and still. In-flowing water created a vlei here, but itís course is now blocked by the moving sands. On my previous journeys here, I have seen people stunned, crying or walking dazed in amazement. Although Iíve been here before, each time Iím fascinated anew with this tri-color display. Close your eyes and imagine: a clay-white, sun-baked floor, the deep orange hue of the dunes and absolutely bluest of the blue sky. Iím in the Ďforestí of dried-up trees. The closer I walk, the smaller I shrink. Their thick, black trunks are nearly fossilized, looking like solid, iron forms. Refreshing, gentle wind blows through their leafless branches. Itís absolutely still here, no sounds, even my breathing seems too loud. The first bright rays of the sun start pouring down on top of the dunes like a giant, golden veil, transforming the vlei. Rapidly moving light is chasing the treesí shadows. I hold my breath, while Edward Abbeyís words run through my mind: ďThere is beauty, heartbreaking beauty, everywhere.Ē Sunlight rushes in. Orange dunes begin to glow. I feel so tiny, yet so significant. Undescribed emotion wells-up inside: todayís sand sea light symphony belongs to me! My satisfied eyes absorb the view Ė glad I made it on time. Now all of Dead Vlei fills with the bright glow. Just few sips of water and Iím starting my hike up, right to the top of Big Daddy. Soft sand rolls under my feet. Iím walking on the cool side of the dune, making a new path over the sandy ripples. Itís breathtaking here! Towering over endless field of dunes, Big Daddy displays its grandeur. Itís one of the highest dunes on Earth, and I am climbing it now! ĎOne step at a time, just forward, drink some water, go oní. My own thoughts serve as my desert companion. 45 minutes and Iím on the top. The orange sea of sand stretches further than I can see. I close my eyes, deeply breathe in and inhale the calm atmosphere. This is my desert-wonderÖstill, soulful meditation.

M. Smaruj.

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