A Year In Nadada: Week Twenty- The Sands Of Time

The desert is ready to explore!

Maybe deep under the sand is our cottages are buried under sand. Perhaps the monkeys carried Picabia brick by brick to fresh new lands. Whatever happened, sand and goats are all there is for 360 degrees around The Kandinsky. The sand underneath my shoes is soft, and reveals nothing of a hidden world. Even the hills have gone.

The air smells mulled, and although even in Picabia you cannot escape the heat of the desert, although it’s nowhere near as fierce as on the surface. At least out here you can get a decent gin and tonic from a goat. Sorry Anna, what looks like a goat.

So, there’s something to tell you. I have made a decision.

Jean-Michel is leading a group across the desert on quad bikes. From there they will trek across the mountains, and join up with The Kandinsky at Duchamp. I’ve decided to join them. The captain has allowed me time off the circuit, with the condition that I do matinees on my return, and perform at least once for those biking.  The Butter Mouse is joining me, and the crew have been kind or mad enough to attach a sidecar for him. There is even a miniature seatbelt and racing stripe.

There are fifteen of us in total. The quad bikes were simple to create, and within an hour of deciding to go, we sped off in a direction that may have once contained croquet lawns and tea rooms. I have never even driven one before. There is a red button to go, and a green button to stop. Jean-Michel takes care of the rest.

The Kandinsky was out of sight. I knew everything was fine, and even if somehow we broke down, the worst case scenario was sipping an Old Fashioned poured from an udder. But I was nervous without her, like I had forgotten my keys.

The sand sculptures wiped away any fears.

From afar they resemble shapeless termite nests, jutting like fingers against the horizon. But with  every meter that we get closer, they reveal their of dozens of different hats, piled up in towers, sculpted from the sand.  They dominate the landscape over us, unmoving in the wind.

Jean-Michel asks us to think about what sand looks like under a microscope. How the grains turn into colourful stones. In the stand sculptures we rode past, those bits of quartz and shell create deliberate, tiny murals, artworks within artworks all the way through.

Night is here. The goats provide hot chocolate, and I am writing this by campfire. The Butter Mouse sat next to me at first, but now he is round the other side, gazing into the flames. I guess someone must have moved him.

Setting off across the desert. Photo by Lewis Moorcroft. 

Setting off across the desert. Photo by Lewis Moorcroft.