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Adventures in Arboriculture

Walking on the moon

ALGERIA | Tuesday, 3 March 2009 | Views [2874]

How can such a featureless barren wasteland with no visible living thing also be so beautiful?

How can such a featureless barren wasteland with no visible living thing also be so beautiful?

I am awoken by the natural light of the dawn to the sound of Ahled packing the donkeys with kit. Clanging saucepans, braying, hooves scuffing the ground. This is the first time I've seen my surroundings and I am awestruck by the sheer sided cliffs that surround us. Yosef has lit a fire and is making toast and Wawa is repeatedly pouring tea from teapot to glass and back again whilst singing to himself in Tamashek (I presume).

I am still in disbelief, but at ease. I roll up my bed pack sit by the fire and gladly take the small cup of sweet tea I am offered, 'Tuareg whisky you can drink in the morning, no problem' nods Yosef

After breakfast, more tea and prayers it is time to make our way up the narrow pass, to zig zag our way to the top of the plateau. Our donkeys our herded, stumbling up the loose scree that makes up the track heavily laden with kit. Im not really sure we need all this stuff, but I am glad that I am not carrying my pack.

I am wary of rock falls or large boulders breaking free from the teetering cliffs, yet neither hear nor see even the smallest stones succumb to gravity during the entire trek.

We walk from 8am till 3pm before a break, after the toughest (and last) section, a narrow dog leg path, where the donkey carrying my kit fell on his side, breaking one of my cameras. I was too out of breath to care much - it was only a cheap, heavy, 35mm russian model, but i did like the fact that you never knew quite how your pictures would turn out when using it (actually thats a lie, it annoyed me intensely).

After an orange and a quick nap we set off again to cross the bleakest, blackest stretch of land I had ever witnessed. Not that I've been thereof course,  but it was like being on the surface of the moon. The rocks were scorched black by the sun, yet still glared under its constant radiance.

There were few features and nothing by which to gauge distance by. You could arrive at that distant rock on the horizon in 10 minutes, or be walking all morning and it would still seem just as far away.

I was beginning to drag my heels and feel week. The sun was getting low in the sky to my right. Wawa had stopped some distance ahead to wait for me to catch up. Eventually I reached him, he stood up and pointed to the horizon - 'The tree, you see it?'. I could not, I strained my eyes. 'You have bad eyesight' he laughed, and carried on walking.  

Tags: algeria, rock art, tassili, trees, trekking, tuareg

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