I’m on a bus heading from Cairo to a town in the White Desert. From there we will hop in a 4×4 with a Bedouin man who will guide us further. I’m part of a small party consisting of a German by way of Lebanon, a Canadian by way of Jordan, and an Iranian (-American) by way of Israel.
The bus is massive but largely empty. The seats are comfortable and recline. Both were unexpected, but super appreciated. There’s one mosquito flying around that no one seems to be able to kill. We just hit a parked car while backing out of our spot, but of course we did. We’re heading out on a six-hour journey to the middle of the Sahara.
As the bus slows in the first town, reacting to traffic, a small boy hops on and starts dropping rolls of mints in everybody’s laps as he walks down the aisle. Then he returns to the front and tells each person, “Pay me,” in Arabic. That’s one way to sell a mint.
I wake up several hours in at a building that I have a hard time believing exists. It’s a small, but bustling restaurant, miles away from any civilization with nothing but stretcing sands in between. As the bus is refueling, we step inside to grab some water and stretch our legs. The place is full of people, all stopping in the middle of some journey to somewhere, eating and drinking. Outside, the desert crawls to the horizon in all directions.
I wake up again and we’re near the end of the road. A small town where we’ll meet Abdul, our Bedouin guide, who will be driving us deeper into nowhere. A full day’s worth of travel and the adventure is just getting started.
We pile into Abdul’s truck and we’re off. No talking, just driving. We whip through a few small villages and stretches of highway, then enter the Black Desert. There we come up to a building settled on a hill where we will be eating lunch.