Landscape design, construction and maintenance under the sun on the world’s largest continuous sand desert–the Empty Quarter–the Rub al Khali. Is it like…just another day at the office?
I’ve been writing a landscape story titled, The 23 Club. Above, I have summarized it in a five minute clip.
In this story an American expatriate landscape architect confronts the strange multi-cultural realities of Arabian Peninsula work. Those social peculiarities layer with the powerful presence of the Empty Quarter landscape…the Empty Quarter, an enigmatic sand desert which, alone by its very presence, negates life.
The multi-media clip opens a window on the physical geography and cultural issues that swirl about the story–the construction of an iconic five star destination resort in that oil-rich, sand desert which, until recently, had been populated only by the transient Bedu.
If you are attracted to ethnobotany or plants, gardens and landscapes and have the wonder; but you do not have the time or money to travel to the Arabian Peninsula for these, then, just be glad to be here.
Multi-culturalism: not a mental exercise. The real landscape.
Warning to vegetarians: Explicit content and descriptions of violence.
You’ve hopefully noticed I’m not keen on the word tourist. I wouldn’t describe myself as a traveller either, as most of my time is spent getting up at 6am and going to work five days a week like most people. Holidaying expat might be more accurate, or migrant who visits nearby countries when he has time off. But when you have a fixed amount of time to explore a new place, especially one as famous and rich in culture and history as Egypt, it’s a little difficult to avoid seeing the Pyramids and Luxor. So I was more than ready to accept an invitation from my colleague to spend Eid with his family in the district of Abbassia in Cairo. Very much not on the tourist trail. It’s an old district, with old grand European-style houses mixed in with…
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I slept well. I dreamt deep.
When I opened my eyes…it was hard to focus…near and far…both fuzzy. Then the foreground cleared and I could see in the distance…across the broad green pastures…I saw the city center.
It had developed over time, drawing resources and energy from the sun, the earth and water–all the while transforming those flows into new forms, new shelters.
The shelters were populated by all diversities of living entities with energy flows, day after day, night after night, until…until…like a Roman settlement in North Africa, they just no longer could sustain neither the energy flows, nor the diversities of living entities.
And the next day, the sun rose; and I was home before the sun set.
I walked through the forest. Neither the date, nor the day mattered. It was in the north. It was in the mountains. Spruce forest. Densely packed, tall trees, more than 100 feet each.
I walked a ridge in that forest. The canopy sheltered. I wasn’t cold. Somewhere, way up there, was sun. Thin, narrow, fractured beams twinkled and sparkled near my feet.
Delicate cloud edges whisped. They came close…on the edges of forming or dissipating or both…here and there…from time to time.
I was tired from walking and climbing. I looked for a place to sit. My Irish roots have always worked magic for me in forests. So it was today when I was invited to sit down and take the shelter of a mushroom.
The ground was soft and the mushroom stem gently molded itself to my spine and rib cage. I was comfortable. My breathing became easy. It slowed. The rhythm eased my eyelids shut.