Books By Jean Sasson

Swirling Sands       page 2                go to page  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8

These thoughts were in my mind as we endured our bumpy ride over the desert floor.  Thankfully, the distance we rode was no more than fifteen kilometers.  Soon the curling smoke of a campfire could be seen in the distance. 

But the men of the camp had seen the dust from our vehicles long before we saw their campfire.  More than twenty men had mounted their camels and were now waiting a short distance from the entrance of their tent settlement. 

One particular Bedouin caught my eye.  He was a robust man of middle age, with chiseled features and dominating black eyes.  With his long black cloak flowing behind him, he was regal, as was his magnificent mount, a strong, young female camel.  His Bedouin gaze was piercing and directed toward us with unquestioning self-confidence.  No smile came to his lips at the sight of strange visitors, although I found it amusing that the lips of his camel seemed permanently carved into a smile.

In a strutting kind of dignity, he rode around our vehicles more than once, as though inspecting us.  I knew without asking that this man was the chief of his village.  The Bedouin are proud, and not in awe of any man, not even men of the royal family.  He would show us all that our welcome depended upon his approval.

When Ahmed stuck his head out of the window of the vehicle, the Chief, who said his name was Sheik Fahd, finally stretched his face in a welcomi0ng smile.  With a voice like thunder, he greeted us with the hope of Allah’s blessing.  With a flourish of both hands, he pointed the way to his village.

  At this sign, the other Bedouins began to shout their welcome.  They rode cheerfully alongside our vehicles as we slowly made our way to the camp.

When Sheik Fahd called out that he had honored guests, the Bedouin settlement instantly came to life.  Veiled women with their arms filled with infants, and many poorly dressed young children emerged from the row of sloping tents.  

The moment I stepped out of our jeep, I was struck by the strong odor in the air.  My nose twitched with the stench of close-living animals and I told myself that each step I took was a step backward in time.

                                                    

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