I didn’t think I’d have much to say about a flight but that was this morning…
The 11 hour flight passed faster than expected (pro-tip: sleep!) I was privileged with great seat mates – a friendly Dutch couple with extensive travel experience, doing their own safari. We chatted amicably, exhausting the places we’ve been and things we’ve seen and the differences in vacation allowance between our respective countries (in Holland, time off for new hires starts with at least 5-6 weeks(!), and they have the least of all Europe).
Awaking from my much-needed nap, the Sahara Desert awaited me below! Even at 35,000 feet, my view straight down was unobscured. I’m not sure what I expected but it probably involved huge sand dunes, camels, and nothing else. I was schooled in amazement with a fascinating and shifting landscape! Starting with striations, each probably the width of a crop field: the first is rippled like sand under beach waves, the second had strips of ragged edges like dried mud after a giant tire drove through it. This pattern continued for an hour (at nearly 600 mph), running east-west.
Eventually these morphed into soft, golden moguls, dotted with dark flecks (Were they trees? Tiny water bodies? Rock? I don’t know. Will have to research that later- it was east of Bilma).
As we got closer to N’ Djamena (west of Chad at this point) the land smoothed out, looking more like a river delta or as if one zoomed in on a patch of coastal beach, leaving foamy edges. Then the land morphed to massive dark swathes like lakes of black ice strewn with sand. Mere minutes later it shifted again to more and smaller dark patches, like stones in a river bottom, mixed with the sandstone colored earth. Minutes later the small “puddles” connected into a patchwork of connected lakes and then rivers. Those dark patches were now definitely water. Here there was more water than sand. We were over Bol. A few more minutes and suddenly we had vegetation. Then it shifted to mostly vegetation with plenty of water. And then back to sand with thin ribbons of streams everywhere and here a semblance of a town. Then a circular city – guessing that’s N’Djamena. And on it went. The macro scale reflects the micro scale (like the Universe resembling neurons in the brain).
West of Moundou a narrow river (perhaps recently flooded?) took on the swirly effect like a Van Gogh painting. Can you tell I’m digging this land “art”???
It’s 5:15, getting duskier. The sky is turning colors in anticipation of a brilliant, golden sunset. I wish my photos could have offered a better representation of the desert for you but am still super grateful for beautiful weather that allowed me these views! I’m doing my best to share it in a way that you can “see” it too.
It’s always exciting to catch that first glimpse of a new place. Is it city? Country? Fields? Forest? Organized urban layout or haphazard? Tiny? Sprawling for miles?
What’s happening right now? Is it commuting time? Night? A lazy Sunday? Perhaps a soccer game or folks at a community pool? I wonder what life is like for residents vs what we see as tourists.
Coming into Johannesburg, or Joburg as they call it, under a black midnight sky, a spray of golden lights as far as the eye could see…we made our approach and I began sobbing uncontrollably. I made it to Africa. The one place my heart has longed for throughout my lifetime. The moment has arrived and I feel a sense of completion just in arriving. I let myself feel the feels and sink into my bones this feeling of coming “home”. I don’t understand it but I’ve learned that’s not necessary most of the time. Move toward it and let it guide me and the path will unfold as it’s intended, not a moment (or decade) sooner.
My driver to the hotel was a fine young chap named Michael who deftly handled the bags and car and fielded my many questions with grace. I want local, first-hand knowledge, since Joburg doesn’t exactly have the best safety reputation. I’m taking no chances and will be sticking to the safe places nearby. I also noticed none of the traffic lights were lit. It’s midnight- there should be lights. Apparently, the power company has a shortage of power supply and turns off lights to conserve. Michael pointed out huge office buildings (Anglo-American he calls them) running solely on generators tonight.
Traveling soon? Here are my tips for long-haul flights:
-Compression socks! 100% must-have. I have so much more energy when using them!
-Hydrate like crazy several days in advance.
-Take your vitamin C and D leading up to travel and a few days after. These are great for immunity, among other things
-Rest when you can. I love an eye mask and ear plugs for the plane.
-Eat healthy. Nothing worse than upset bellies when traveling and it helps your immune system too. This may mean bringing your own snacks
-Bring your Neti pot and rinse your sinuses after each trip. Rinse those airborne particles out!
-Once you’ve settled in the hotel feet up the wall pose! I never travel without doing this and have been known to do it in the airport. It really helps with jet lag, getting stale lymph out of your legs, and 10-minutes is as rejuvenating as a 1-hour nap. YouTube video explaining this pose: https://youtu.be/_OQEIiZLY-0
-Trouble falling asleep? Get the Insight Timer app and play your favorite yoga nidra for a speedy nighty night and deep sleep
-What strategies do you use that aren’t on my list? Tell us in the Comments!
It feels good to “land” and while my body still hasn’t adjusted to the 7-hour time difference I have nowhere to be tomorrow and will hydrate and take a rest before exploring a bit. It’s 3am, I’ve been on the go for nearly 24 hours, I’ve got my feet up the wall, and am calling it a day.
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Sahara Desert- water bodies visible
Sahara Desert- back to dunes, rocks, mountains
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