The Sahara. It’s the world’s hottest desert and almost as large as China or the United States, so travelers have good reason to be wary of wandering into it alone. But adventurer Tom Thumb has organized another retreat in 2013 for those who want to experience the Sahara. The Road Junky Sahara Retreat will be held in the Moroccan Sahara from January 27 to February 2, 2013. If it is anything like the past two that have been held, it is a perfect chance for travelers to reflect upon their own lives in the sharp repose of the desert. It is also clear from the testimonials on the Road Junky retreat website that members naturally build a community that yields long-lasting friendships, despite the relative brevity of the trip.
With its “particular focus on mindfulness and meditation,” the group will seem to transcend this world and enter one that is almost completely natural, making the retreat a rather spiritual experience for most. As a former member reflected, “Taking off our watches…for five days was definitely a good idea! It was immensely refreshing to live purely by the sun and moon.”
In the past, size has been pretty intimate, with no more than a few dozen travelers. Retreaters got to know one another well through the group activities – which, however, are completely optional, as personal needs for meditation are considered first and foremost.
This time around, Durward Burrell will teach the special art of meditation every morning, getting the days off to good, peaceful starts. Next, Giusi Tavilla will hold her Dance Expression class to promote not only physical movement but also creativity, “drawing inspiration from the shapes of the sand dunes and the sound of the wind.” Burrell will step once again into the leader position to run aikido workshops. With its roots in Japanese martial arts, aikido sharpens decision-making skills in combat, resistance, and surrender; whatever difficulty life throws at a person can be contemplated in aikido terms.
At night, talking circles, which Road Junky cites as a Native American tradition, will unite retreaters in verbal communication. Everyone will have the opportunity to speak and the chance to listen, internalizing the stories of others and empathizing. Live music and a bonfire will draw everyone near.
The retreat is a genuine wish for well-being, as is demonstrated in its health-conscious provisions. Vegetarians and vegans need not fear; Road Junky assures that there will be more than enough food for them during the six days. Traditional Moroccan cuisine will be served; those with special diets may just have to skip the tajine, if it contains meat, for example. Alcohol is prohibited, as it will “keep the consciousness high” throughout the retreat. As for water, because of its scarcity, travelers are to be prepared to take sponge baths using a bowl and cloth.
Retreaters must pay their way to Morocco, but after that, the retreat is 295 euros, inclusive. Spending a week in the ultimate desert of the Middle East – or even more, of the whole world – is an opportunity of a lifetime. “The guest is the face of God,” according to Islamic tradition; the Sahara welcomes with open arms, in a very warm embrace.
Image of Sahara retreaters found on the site