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The boy in the desert

My Scholarship entry - Seeing the world through other eyes

WORLDWIDE | Sunday, 22 April 2012 | Views [152] | Scholarship Entry

The early morning sun warms the desert sand. Our guide encourages us to hurry. We do not want to waste time before our camel ride, he says. The 4x4 truck we have been using to discover Wadi Rum in the heart of Jordan, takes us to a barely visible crossroad. There, a small boy and three camels are waiting. He will be our guide for the day.
The boy’s name is Abdulah and is 10 years old. He has been helping with camel rides for about a year, taking tourist in the desert for one day trips. He is an apprentice tour guide, one day he will lead his own tourists through the sandy desert to visit places such as Burdah Bridge, Lawrence House, the Great Sand Dune.
That is where we are heading now, towards the only sand dune in the whole of Wadi Rum. While the camel swings from side to side and I take photos of the yellow and white dusty road, I listen to the boy sing.
After telling us a bit about himself – how he goes to school during the week, and after that helps with guiding tourists – he slips in his own world, and start to sing softly. I do not understand a word, but I do listen attentively. It is a soft tune, like the heat of the desert; rich in harmony, like the colours of the sand; it changes pace spectacularly, like the scenery – here a flat plain, in the distance giant rock formations. The desert somewhat seems to come alive with his tune and silence is no longer a burden.
We reach our first destination. We are in awe at the great ‘monster’ before us - a giant mass of fine, dusty, red hot sand. Our guide is not impressed. He has seen it a thousand times and it always looks the same; just tourists are surprised. He casually sits in the shade of a bush as we start climbing. We slip, we fall, our shoes dig deep and get stuck.
A few moments later, Abdulah runs past as fast as a snake. He reaches the top long before we even make it half way. He cheers and charges down hill, running, laughing, barely keeping his balance. He is a child, and the desert is his playground.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2012

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