Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Nor Divine. Nor Unspoiled. Nor Virgin

A desert traveler writes (2015): "It's no longer imaginable: the divine desert only for me and the camels. Back then [30 years ago J.D.] there were no cars and there was no GPS."

Strange assertion for a historian like me. It must be a 'Golden Years' (David Bowie) kind of view on the traveler's, travels of thirty years ago. But ... back then the desert was nor divine, nor unspoiled, nor virgin, nor without cars, nor without GPS.

Navigation is of all time - no exception for navigating in the desert:

Transport is of all time - no exception for transporting in the desert:

New techniques give new (im)possibilities. With their own (dis)advantages, limitations and range. A walking man can, under a full sun, in "the" desert survive 3 days without water. A camel can walk for 3 weeks without water. A motor vehicle can drive for months without water. A man and camel need food for fuel and a car gasoline. A ship is bound to water for transportation. Etcetera

What's my point? William Roe Polk in his book 'Passing Brave' (1973): "Abu Jurj, it is all gone. Labid is dead. You were right about the truck. It has killed us [the camel and the nomad J.D.] all." Read for trucks: cars, trains or airplanes.

What rests is romanticism. 'Romanticism' defined as "fallible people who pursue the dream of perfection." The camel as transport for salt and other commodities is gone. Since 1900 the camel, in the Middle East, is one of many ways of transport for the tourist, traveler and soldier. A source of revenue for the tourist leader, writer or filmmaker. The desert is a place - with and without a camel - where you must be able to survive as a soldier.

Source photo: Dany Marique

No comments:

Post a Comment