“It looks like we have made it through that sandstorm,” our guide informed us.

The sandstorm itself was like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Having grown up in the Central Valley of California, we often had what were called “foggy day schedules.” A late start to the school day to let the tule fog burn off a bit. If you’ve ever driven in a tule fog, you know it hangs low to the ground and severely limits visibility. Best thing to do is to keep your eyes on the tail lights in front of you and hope that they don’t drive off the road.

I thought of that in the sandstorm. The visibility was near zero, but there were no tail lights to follow and in fact, there wasn’t even a road. We were about 90 minutes into off roading in the Sahara, headed toward our camp. We’d reached the region where Lake Iriki used to exist, before the river that fed it was dammed and diverted.

The wind picked up and started to swirl. It ran like water down our windows. I had no idea how our driver could see a thing, but he clearly knew what he was doing, and being naive about the dessert, I assumed this was a common occurrence, so I let the sound of the wind lull me into a light sleep.

Once the wind died down a bit and he let us know it looked like we’d seen the worst of it. I asked how often storms like that occurred and he shook his head and said that he hadn’t seen one like that since last April.

Now we are settled into our camp. It’s still pretty windy and we’re waiting to see whether the wind will die down enough to allow us to go out on a camel ride without getting completely barraged with sand.

Until then, Jeff’s gone in for a nap and I’m hiding away from the wind in the dining tent drinking tea (officially drinking “tea in the Sahara”) with my new companion, a cute little tabby cat.

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