We arrived at camp in the early hours of the morning. a fleet of 6 jeeps, with nothing but headlights and an open span of the Sahara desert. Unable to see our hand in front of our face (and a distinct lack of Google Maps and road signs) we asked our guides how they are able to locate the camp. “Look up”, they said. One of the most astonishing things we had heard – using only the positioning of the stars were these men able to navigate their way hours into the Sahara, and to the camp.
We rose at sunrise to a profound silence – there was nothing, and no one in our vicinity. We rode camels, read books, and stargazed. We sat cross-legged and spoke with berbers about how they lived off the land – being completely content with everything that they had, never feeling malice or jealousy towards one another. These conversations sat around a candlelit carpeted floor in the Sahara, will be one of the most surreal, yet pivotal conversations we will probably ever have. A life lived so differently to ours – but so much for us to learn from them. We had no reason for stress, in fact the biggest question that we faced each day was “would you like the camels at your sunset picnic?”.
We pushed ourselves completely out of our comfort zones; we rode the dunes in 4X4s (somehow managing to keep hold of our cameras and hats), ate local food that the berbers had walked for miles to source, had henna inked onto our skin and we washed using only eco showers.
Although we had experienced a digital detox like never before, we managed to locate a “wifi strong spot” where we would meet every day for 10 minutes to 1) Check our emails to make sure Stories was still intact, and 2) let our loved ones know that we were alive and kicking in the middle of the African desert (to which they were, of course, thankful). Wifi ridge was without a doubt one of the most picturesque places that we have convened for this kind of activity. We lay on our stomachs and stayed connected for no more than 10-15 minutes. That, is when you know you’re at one with your surroundings.
Being able to work on a project that was so far removed from our everyday life, was surreal. It is a place like no other – Umnya, translating to “wish” – is exactly what we did when we looked up at the sky every night.
“If there’s a word to describe these two ladies it’s ‘magnifique’. We spent months working on Umnya Dune Camp and I had the oppotunity first hand to see how they put their energy and creativity for each detail of Umnya. These girls are perfectionists, they are also extremely helpful, professional and full of life.”
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