The grounds of the Adrere Amellal where, for one precious day and night, I was the only guest in the entire 40-room lodge (five visitors from France arrived on day two...) The impossible silence each night, coupled with the multiple and even more impossibly fantastic shooting stars through the night sky, made it all feel like it was just a dream.
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I stayed at the Adrere Amellal eco-lodge in Siwa, Egypt for three precious nights in October 2011. All of the lodge's structures are made from local materials - mud, salt and sand. Here, one of the conscientious, and amazingly kind, staff - Ibrahim - poses for me in one of the public sitting areas. I love the juxtaposition of the brilliant blue sky and Ibrahim's white galabeya to the sandwashed facade of the resort.
Each morning at about 5:20am, my eyes would flutter open in response to the beautiful milky orange light that would begin creeping into my room. My bed faced due east, a perfect vantage point to do simply nothing but lie back and watch the sun rise in all its glory before dozing back to sleep for another hour or so listening to...oh right, nothing.
And then I met him. The lodge assigned a desert guide to me for two glorious afternoons. And I had him - Abdallah - all to myself. Little did I know this Berber farmer cum United Nations award-recipient/eco-lodge co-founder would star in my life as an agent of change. First on the agenda, drive for miles into the Great Sand Sea, pick a spot to set up a makeshift campfire, and brew a pot of hibiscus tea for two. Run your fingers through the velvet sand, watch the sun set, talk about philosophy, watch the stars come out, talk about how sometimes it's better to just not talk and rather listen, and then make the journey home, guided not by roads but by the sparkling stars above.