Nestled on a cocoon of cushions, one hand tucked under my head, the other idly running cool sand through my fingers, the camp settled down. Lights blinked off one by one, leaving only the soft crackle of the fire.
Our hosts for the night quietly left the Bedouin camp, one or two slipping into in a nearby tent for company, leaving us to the silence of the desert. The quiet deepened* as our camp mates drifted off to sleep and the stars began to shimmer.
Snuggling further into my scarf my eyes began to adjust to the glorious canopy overhead. Billions of stars, some shining with fervour, others more shy and quietly glimmering. The few constellations I know began to appear (and the itch to retrieve my slowly flattening phone and download a stargazing app strengthened despite a lack of electrical sockets and wifi connectivity) and the silence grew further.
I simply lay there and fell into an almost meditative trance. The feel of a light breeze whispering across my face became something I wanted to treasure forever, the hard romance of an unforgiving clime so different from my own green island home.
As the cool began to dew on my skin I knew that I could either dash into our tent and fish a duvet from our bed to sleep under the stars, or simply clamber into the warmer bed where my sleepy husband giggled at my stargazing antics.
Our humble boudoir lit with a torch was swathed in richly decorated tapestry walls, thick carpets and a scattering of sand brought in with our shoes. Slipping into fleecy pyjamas more often seen on our London couch, I sensibly wriggled into bed, but not before setting a pre-dawn alarm clock.
We seemed to wake 3 minutes afterwards (in reality we had managed 5 hours of sleep) and shrugged on fleeces and shoes before grabbing water bottles and staggering out of the camp, and up a few nearby dunes in the dusky light.
I can’t tell you in words how beautiful that sunrise was. Deep indigo turned slowly to inky blue, soft lavender, russet red. Then, as the sun began to peek over the horizon intense ochres turned to soft peaches and rich yellows.
Sometimes the simplest things in the world just remind you how insignificant many of our day to day niggles are. And this was one of them.
We looked back over our camp as the skies became pastel. The other couple staying in the camp had peeked out from their covers by now, and were standing quietly on an adjacent dune. The smell of coffee and breakfast wafted slowly over interrupting our adoration of the horizon.
And the day was only just beginning…
Nearly everyone I spoke to about going to Dubai insisted that we take in a desert activity or two, and I am so very glad we did.
*Always wanted a situation I could genuinely use that phrase