I was sitting there polishing off my second Negroni—a Negroni in the frickin’ Sahara, with ice!—watching the sun rapidly sink over the horizon when here comes Ahmed, barreling over the nearest dune in bare feet, appearing out of nowhere over the lip of the sand. Huffing from the stomp up the dunes, he says “Monsieur Dan, we have one more surprise for you tonight. Please come. Oh, bring your camera.”
We follow a path along the dune ridges with strategically placed lanterns illuminating the way. We top over the lip of the ridge and I shriek like a little girl. Ahmed giggles with excitement. We’re now peering down over a mini-amphitheater created by the dunes — I didn’t even know this was here. And lining the bowl below us is a constellation of dozens of flickering lanterns, all patterned out like someone with OCD would want. It looked like a concert at Red Rocks in the 70s, lighters in the air, but bigger and with sand. Down in the center of the bowl a roaring fire acted like fill-light, torching the sand for many yards. Standing silently, two more of Ahmed’s friendly team stood at attention, grinning ear to ear. And there it was, my Table for One. There are dozens of other tent camps out there, some like mini tent villages, some even more elaborate than this, but Dar Ahlam’s philosophy is that the desert experience should just be for one group — whether a family, a couple of couples or even a group of one like me. One group at a time. One night at a time.