An extract from a work in progress inspired by the experiences of Alexandrine Tinne, the first European woman to cross the Sahara. As yet untitled, so for now just known as:
Alexandrine Tinne: Lady Explorer
As we wind our way through the desert my eyes ache as they constantly try to refocus, seeking change. The endless expanse of sand threatens to send my mind spinning. For my sanity’s sake I look down at my feet sinking into the dune we are climbing – focus on the tiny avalanches that are created with each step. If I look to the right, away from the sun, I see rows and rows of ripples marking the sand, like the wavy lines children draw to represent the sea. If I look to the left everything disappears in the white glare of the sun, which is also endangering my state of mind. Its ruthlessness scares me. It seems angry that we have dared to venture into this vast domain that it rules over with its scorching rays.There are no animals here, except for the camels we have with us that carry our gear, and sometimes me. I do catch glimpses of something under the sand now and then, something living down there that doesn’t want us to see it. It slinks along just beneath the surface until it has passed us then, I’m sure, it bursts free, happy to glide freely along the dunes again once we are gone. Ahead, Ammon, the lead guide, has reached the top of this dune his silhouette momentarily imprinted on the hard blue sky before the sand swallows him as he starts to descend the other side. He is a surly man who has little to say. I’m not sure about him. He is very different to the guides I have had before. I need to stop, drink water, make camp, sit in the shade. But I have learnt already that he won’t allow it. We stop when he says so and not before. I may be paying him and his men for their assistance in getting across the Sahara but I am not in charge. I must not ever think that.