On oasis in the desert

I never understood why people looked beyond the atmosphere of planet earth, why Armstrong and Aldrin sat foot on the moon in the first place, why people longed to become astronauts. Why would you look at other planets while you haven’t discovered your own planet fully. Why wanting to find extraterrestrials life while we don’t even understand life on Earth? It’s not me, I’m the one with both feet on earth, exploring this planet one place at a time. And this time it brought us to the hottest place on the planet. Kind of looks like Mars so even for the landscapes you don’t have to go beyond our blue sky. 

A night in the desert

And a blue sky means the sun will burn the landscape below and no ozon layer saves us from the heat. So it means, we arrive late in the Lut desert, right before sunset and just in time to pick a good spot, get out our virgin mojito and sit back. And that’s all we do. Enjoying the scenery, the silence, the tiny breeze that cools us down a bit. And then the stars appear and thats the closest I get to see the balls of gas that light our sky at night. Of course we wait for stars to fall and leave a string of light so we can do a wish. A wish that only comes true when we out effort in making it come true. But, it’s a nice idea that making a wish after seeing a fallen star (or blowing all birthday candles at once) it’ll come true no matter the effort. So I guess, I have a lot of work to do, as we saw many fallen stars, thus made many wishes… 

Dasht-e Lūt

Lūt Desert, Persian Dasht-e Lūt, is a desert in east Iran. In the east rises a great massif of dunes and sand, while in the west an extensive area of high ridges is separated by wind-swept corridors.

In its lowest, salt-filled depression—less than 300 metre above sea level—the summer heat and low humidity are believed to be unsurpassed anywhere. It’s here where they recorded the hottest place on earth: 71 degrees Celcius!

The desert is so extraordinary and unique that it is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage.

Problems in the desert

After a while we decided to call it a night as we would wake up early the next day to watch the sunrise. Sun is life, as is water. And while there is no escaping the sun in the desert, the latter is harder to find, or impossible to find. We brought 20 liters with us, thinking it would be enough. What do you think?

First, sunrise. We hiked atop the highest kalout, natural phenomenons sculptured by erosion, we could find. There it was, another day had begun. The more the sun rose the smaller the shadows and the warmer the sand. Making life in the desert unbearable from 7am till far after dawn. Nonetheless we stayed a while longer to inhale the landscape until the dust made us choke and the heat took our breath away.

While getting our asses as far away from Earths hottest place (71 degrees Celsius have been measured here) a flat tire made us stay a little longer. In 20 minutes, with a lot of cursing and draining our water supply we were on the road again. Not far because I’m Shahdad we hope to change our tire. Or fix it. But it’s Friday, which is a holy day in Iran and also a day that most things are closed. Also in Shahdad, a town at the border of the desert, where any other day is also considered a Friday when summer started. Luckily someone knew someone and that someone had a key to a shop where we could repair our tire. Which we did. Changing a tire is a lot quicker than fixing one. It took us two hours in total to get our tire fixed. Which meant: the heat is out. And so we’re we.

Taking it slow gets a new meaning

Taking it slow, very slow, with multiple – make it many – stops along the way. Alexine taking the meaning of slow travel very serious and overheating quicker than a mosquito flying into fire we had to take our time. Unfortunately the road we took wasn’t as spectacular as we hoped it would be. From village to village through an uninteresting valley cleared of forests and used only for cultivation of fruits. When we we happy to made it onto a pass we had another steep climb in front of us. And when we were relieved watching the road descent we soon saw it go up again. And then with 1.5 more hour to go the tarmac road resolved into a dirt road. Giving ‘taking it slow’ another meaning. 1.5 hour became three, luckily this time the landscape was worth taking it slow. From brown mountains to bright red, yellow and white ones. From boring villages to true oasis with palmtrees, cute little houses and happy kids waving us goodbye while stunting on their motorcycles. 

It didn’t take long before we entered the desert plane, there where the only thing you see is the heat above the tarmac road. No trees, no humans, no end in sight. Just desolation. It became so hot we even had trouble seeing clearly, the UV filters of our cheap sunglasses put to the test (and failing as I later felt in my eyes).

The road went ever on and on and we could see as far as the next hill. After which we hoped to see our destination for the day but were instead surprised by another mirage of nothingness and heat in which we thought we saw palmtrees and houses made of mud. But after the umpteenth hill we finally saw an oasis of date palmtrees, of an ancient village made out of mud houses and of children as young as 10 on motorcycles. “Are we seeing this clearly?”, after rubbing our eyes a couple of times we agreed, this must be Keshit! 

The oasis named Keshit

The closer we got to Keshit, the more speechless we got. This picturesque and foregone city of Keshit made all the troubles of earlier evaporated with the heath. The energy flowed back into our bodies, unlike the water that got down to 5 liters already. The ancient village might be worth the troubles but it doesn’t offer water. Wrong!

Behind the ancient village of Keshit lies the modern village of Keshit. A village of date palmtrees, of qanats that run through the village like a vein through our body, and of people who own shops where they sell water. Saved by the oasis we decided to stay not one but two nights here. And we did that in style, between the palm trees. In the day we cooled down in the river that flows to the village and at night we ate ice cream at the roundabout which happens the be the place where everything happens. Everything being; men chatting, children playing and boys driving motorcycles. Women weren’t seen at the roundabout. Instead they were outside each other’s homes, gossiping I presume. 

That continued until late at night but long before the last call we made it back to our quiet spot in between the palmtrees next to the river and under a blanket of more stars than we could count. I can’t imagine people wanting to live on another planet if this is right here, on ours. And as long as we didn’t find a way to understand the songs of birds in the morning, I have no desire to talk to an alien. Although, maybe the songs of birds sounds so beautiful because we don’t know the words. Just like a language you don’t understand so the only thing you hear is the melody the people speak with. Once you know the meaning the melody disappears, however beautiful the language. Maybe that’s the reason I never really got to learn French. It sounds much more romantic without knowing it’s meaning. 

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