Becoming a “Desert Girl” in Egypt

Desert Girl in Cairo Egypt

Manifesting as a “desert girl” was one of the best things I have ever experienced in Egypt. After getting a late start and having to drive a bit longer than expected to reach the desert, which was perfectly fine due to the fun music and great company, I found myself in the middle of nowhere. In this case, the middle of nowhere looks like a mirage—nothing but desert sand and massive, beautiful dunes for miles. I’ve never seen anything else like it in my entire life.

As my friend and I were unloading the truck and trying to make ourselves look busy, the tour guides quickly gave sand boarding directions to another party that came in a different caravan.

Desert Girl in Cairo Egypt

The group started climbing and slipping up to the top of the dune, then slowly began to slide back down while sitting on their bottoms. I then heard, “Whitney, yalla! You’re a desert girl now. The dunes are waiting!”

I began clambering up the sandy dune and began to wish for death. It was outrageously hot and I felt like an injured mountain goat, or perhaps a sleep deprived penguin, while making my way to the top. Finally I was able to reach the peak! Being a desert girl was hard work and the ascent took longer than expected, due to immense amounts of laughing and buckets of sand in my socks and eyes. I stood up and tried to take everything in—the view was surreal.

Desert Girl in Cairo Egypt

All I could see was the magnificent desert, which at times looked an eerie shade of blue. It was the Golden Hour and the massive sun was beaming magical light onto my body, while the cool and salty wind teased my skin and hair. I was engulfed in goose bumps and soaked in the breathtakingly, gracious reminder of why I had fallen in love with Egypt.

I was startled when I realized that place had remained somewhat the same for thousands of years. I was lucky beyond belief to experience such a creation. I felt as if I were at the end of the world. Every molecule in my body was on fire with the promise of wonder and excitement.

Unexpectedly, I felt a nudge on my shoulder and realized I had to go down at some point. I decided to be slightly cautious during first time “ride” and sat down as securely on the board as possible. It started moving through the sand so quickly and I completely forgot what I was supposed to do after leaving the top of the dune. Fortunately, I screamed my way down the dune and ended at the bottom without any battle wounds.

The second trek to the top proved to be as successful and I actually managed to sand board, without falling or yelling, all of the way to the bottom of the hill! Though the sand boarding was incredibly invigorating and exciting, my friend and I was exhausted by that point and decided we needed nourishment.

After several peanut butter and strawberry SANDwiches later, followed by apples, grapes, and popcorn, we continued to trek around the desert. It felt as if I walked miles and miles in my happy, bare feet as the day began to grow cooler. Before we knew it we had several hours on the dunes and the sun grew tired of our frenzied adventures.

Desert Girl in Middle East

I marched for the last time, as a desert girl, up to the top of an untouched dune for the most gloriously beautiful sunset that my tired eyes had ever seen.

The Egyptian sun didn’t look like a sun at all, as it was so strange and pink, like a huge glowing otherworldly orb without any rays beaming off of it.

The magic ball was selfish and only stayed for a few moments before it melted into the horizon, without sharing its ancient secrets or what Egypt had in store for me.


Note: This article was originally featured on The Huffington Post




Whitney Buchanan

Whitney Buchanan

Middle East Collective Founder

Whitney Buchanan is an American analyst on Gender Issues and MENA Affairs, currently based between Cairo and Berlin. She is also the founder of the Middle East Collective.

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