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Selma Cook

The wonders of experiencing the desert at first hand and marvelling at its beauty and elusive danger. The first marvellous site of the ships that daily sail through the Suez Canal.

 

I’d heard about the Suez Canal since I was a child at school. It always felt so far away and untouchable. Something that was built under the oppression of the British many years ago. Now, it remains a vital source of income for this country.

While on holiday, I got the chance, at last, to actually see it with my own eyes. We were traveling to Port Said and I was dosing off to sleep with the baby on my knee. The soft blueness of the sky, without a speck of cloud and the glimmering white sand of the desert sent me into a dreamy state of half sleep. I find a certain kind of beauty in the desert that many other people don’t appreciate. I often hear people talking about how they feel afraid in the desert and that sent me wondering why. Apart from the obvious dryness of the desert and the fear of dying of thirst, I couldn’t see anything else fearful about it.

I inquired further and found that the emptiness of it often frightened people. It’s vastness seemed unending. Perhaps a reminder of the vastness of life and our seeming smallness and insignificance under the greatness of the sky and the boundlessness of the desert. Trees, plants and buildings break up the vastness of the earth and make it appear smaller than it really is. Makes us feel more accessible to it, more hopeful of crossing it, or confronting it. But the desert sucks us up into its remoteness and loses us somewhere in between. We watch, look around and find ourselves swallowed in greatness; in magnificence. We are forced to confront ourselves within it, as there are no other
distractions.

All these thoughts were passing through my mind as I drifted in and out of sleep. Then my eyes opened and I blinked, shaking myself back into reality. There beyond that sand dune were the towering chimneys of a ship. From where I was sitting, it was impossible to see water, only white sand and the tops of ships outlined against a blue, blue sky. It was truly an amazing sight.