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2020. I'm at home wherever my rug is

Travel journal, Tuesday

It’s 5.58 a.m. I don’t usually keep track of it so precisely, but I just saw it on my phone. I don’t have any signal here and no wifi whatsoever, but the clock still works. I’m sitting on my bed. Sultan gave me 6 blankets. I’ve needed all of them. Because the nights are beautiful, but freezing cold. The blankets are wonderful: with woven flowers made from goat wool and stripes that resemble tyre tracks. There are cushions and colourful enamelled bowls on the rug for me, with pears, dates and lemons in them.

A strip of light falls through the fabric that is hanging in front of the entrance to our tent, dividing the tent in two. Tessi is behind the strip of light. She’s still sleeping. I move carefully, so as not to wake her up. Because if there’s anyone who needs their sleep, it’s her. I lift the canvas up a little and feel the sand between my toes as I step outside. It’s not exactly surprising; we’re in the desert. We’ve been staying here for 2 nights so far. Not that that was the plan. But sometimes things don’t go to plan. Or they don’t go at all. That’s how it was in our case.

We’re in Morocco for work. And we thought we’d take an afternoon off, between visits to all the companies. So that’s why we drove out of the city the day before yesterday after lunch. Tessi doesn’t have a driving licence, so I was behind the wheel. We drove off into the countryside. The buzzing noise of the busy road soon fell silent and within an hour we were driving on a dirt track. The air vibrated with the heat. The landscape become emptier and emptier. The nature changed. We saw blossoming white, blue and light red flowers with long stems. We encountered blushing birds with grey wings. We counted cranes. And in the distance, we saw a giraffe. Even though I now suspect it was a mirage.

‘Are those monkeys?’ Tessa asked, pointing to a large argan tree in the middle of the copper-coloured plain. It looked like it was holding its arms out to welcome us. The crown of the tree was wide and there was a goat on every branch. As result, the proud argan resembled a failed Christmas tree. I parked up at once. We wanted to see it close up. A man and a woman were standing by the tree. They were shouting all sorts of things at the goats, in the hope that they would come down. We introduced ourselves. He was called Sultan, she was called Jasmin. We took photos of the goat tree. And of the stork that landed right next to Tessi. We chatted a bit more and walked back to the car. But when I turned the key in the ignition, the engine stuttered. I put my foot on the accelerator, tried to start it up again, put my foot harder on the accelerator, but nothing happened.

Sultan and Jasmin came towards us. ‘It's the battery’, Jasmin said. ‘That’s the weak spot of many rental cars over here. It will take a while to replace it. My brother’s a mechanic, he’ll be back from the city tomorrow. You can stay with us until then. Because she - and Jasmin pointed to Tessi - shouldn’t go taking any more risks.’

Tessi’s face contorted into a question mark.

Jasmin laughed. ‘Don’t you know?’ she asked Tessi. ‘The stork! That’s a sign, you’ll be getting a son in seven months’ time!’

So now we’re sitting in a tent camp, behind huge golden dunes, in the midst of a sea of sand. There’s not a lot to do. Tessi and I have speculated endlessly about her pregnancy. Will it really be a boy? And apart from that, we’re enjoying the silence. The stars at night. The moonlight. The warm mint tea with lemon. And the shawls and blankets you desperately need here at night.

‘It’s a completely different world’, I said to Sultan and Jasmin yesterday evening. ‘Home seems so far away’. And then Jasmin gave a response I found so beautiful I want to share it. ‘Home is where you put down your rug, Pip.’

And that’s true, of course. Soon, her brother will arrive from the city. With a new battery. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll fly home this evening. With our purchases. With Tessi's big news. With new memories, new wisdom and new ideas. Because the desert is very rich. It sounds empty. And barren. But in my new collection, I’ll show you that that's not the case.

It’s just like Jasmin said: you’re at home wherever your rug is. Just look.

 

Love from Pip