From Beyneu to Aktau

– Quaint town of Beyneu.

Second day of camping today, just outside the town of Beyneu. The weather has been scorching hot all day, dry winds whipping up dust devils in the distance, and the miles of bad, bumpy and potholed roads just keep building up. We finally drive into our campsite just as the sun is beginning its long march West into the horizon. Nothing here but a brackish stream with a gadzillion bugs and flat land for miles in every direction…

– Sunset reflected on salt-water lake.

Its hot and bothersome, as the desert air is still and unmoving, and with the dew comes humidity that clings to every thing. We’re rushing to put up the tents and finish dinner before the light fades completely, as we’ve been told that using lights at night will bring out the hordes of insects that reside on the water.

– Sunrise at the campsite.

As light fades and dusk falls however, all notions of discomfort are forgotten. For me at least. Million-star accommodation, is what the team veterans call camping, and tonight, it is literally true. The stars rise spectacularly bright among an inky blue backdrop. The constellations start marching by – Little and Big Dipper, Orion, and my favourite one Pisces. The North Star is visible, strongly beckoning. Venus rises high on the ecliptic plane, burning blue and bright. The moon finally drops in for a peep, demurely shy in crescent form. The parade passes by, while shooting stars streak into the night..

Thankfully, the temperature drops to a pleasant 18 degrees or so, and the wind lullabies the tired ones to sleep. As I lay down, watching the heavenly parade pass above, I cannot help but to feel awed and humbled.

Recalling a passage written by Carl Sagan, who explained that we are all made of star stuff, I feel small and insignificant, but at the same time my heart swells with joy, knowing that once, every cell in me was part of the powerhouse lighting up the stars above. We are all, made of the divine. Starting from hydrogen, and the nucleus fuses into ever heavier matter, becoming more and more complex with each iteration, each and every one of our atoms once lived in the heart of stars.

Cliche as it sounds, I wish you were here with me, gazing into the infinite heavens above…

If that doesn’t make one feel humbled, I don’t know what will… Maybe a heart made of stone? – Jasmine

– Feeling like Wile E. Coyote?


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