“… I lie inside my snug hammock, listening to the hollow tones of my bamboo mobile hanging from the rafters of my hut. My eyes rest on the serene landscape of the jagged mountain range across the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba and the forbidden mountains of Saudi Arabia…”
I breathe in the wind.”
These lines, taken from my novel, ‘While the Sands Whisper’, could best describe my feelings for the Sinai Desert, my very favorite place since 1982. And as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been the traveler who loves to venture ‘off the hidden paths…’
The most significant journey of my life; three years on the African continent… hitch-hiking from Denmark to Athens, carrying a home-made sign written, “TO AFRICA.” The first main goal was to reach The Sudan, the greatest and toughest country in which I’ve ever traveled.
A random passage from one of my African journals:
Kosti, Sudan: October 24, 1986
“… my face parched; a 45 degree heat pounding over my head.
Feeling apathetic, despite the flies and mosquitoes eating me alive.
Without any knowledge of what we’re being accused of, (my then husband and traveling companion,) Mik Aidt, and I are dragged down to Kosti’s police station. Once arriving at the barren cement ‘Police Quarters’, the Chief Officer grabs my camera bag. His fingers fumble inside, grabbing hold of my Olympus OM 10.
Without a word, he opens the back of the camera and confiscates my film…while a lonely cockroach creeps across his desk.
And to add to my glorious mood, a trickle of blood drizzles down the inside of my leg.The Sudanese women have kindly suggested that I use rags as a substitute. And the filthy floor toilets only add to my misery…
I break down.
“I’m going home Mik; I can’t stand it anymore.”
“Well, of course, if that’s what you want, you can leave!” he responded. “But then you’ll never know if you had the guts to do it!!”
And since that day, I began to look beyond the hardships, opening myself to the beauty of the African continent. And so, the journey continued through 18 other countries.
Mik’s words of wisdom have greatly influenced my life… yes, I’ve turned into a surviver. I’ve become my own best friend, a self-taught photographer and journalist. Since those incredible years, there have been several other journeys and until today… I’ve been fortunate to have seen 53 countries.
My interest in the Sinai Bedouin
For centuries, the Bedouin of Sinai have lived a semi-nomadic existence.
They’ve roamed the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula with little care for national borders or sovereign rule. Denied many of the same benefits and rights as Egyptian citizens, few feel that Egypt is their home. But since the early 80′ies, the years of the Israeli occupation of Sinai, international tourism began to flourish on the Sinai coastline. And the Bedouin finally prospered; now many could survive on tourism.
But also throughout these years,The Sinai underwent great political turmoil, including several acts of terror, explosions of hotels and Bedouin beach camps. So many potential tourists, Israeli tourists in particular, are apprehensive about traveling to the Sinai Peninsula. This has brought about continuous instability to the entire region; and as a result; abandoned beaches, hungry stomachs to feed… and little or no income. As a further result, many Bedouin have been forced into other, less legitimate occupations…..
The devastating plight of the Bedouin deserves public exposure and awareness! If there is someone out there who cares…??
This was the focal point of my original project, beginning in 2003; when I received a grant from the Danish Foreign Ministry to work with the Bedouin in Sinai, the project resulting in a photo exhibition for Denmark’s Fotomuseum.
And so, for seven months, I stayed with three Bedouin families who invited me to live with them inside their tents. Each family was located in different outlying mountainous areas of Sinai. These warm and wonderful people gave me their life stories and their trust.
My ties with them became close, mainly with the Tarabin and Muzeina tribes. I was taken by their simple approach to life, their sense of humor, their mischievous pranks… and their poetic wisdom. Despite their constant poverty, the Bedouin have always been inventive in their unconventional methods of surviving.
And so, this novel; a further result of my project. I’ve changed the names and used my fantasy in blending the stories of the characters I’ve chosen to portray.
‘While the Sands Whisper’, an eight year work in progress.