Carfagnos of Arabia

My distant relative Cat Carfagno and I went on a desert expedition the other day. Our mission was to find the lost oasis and city of Zerzura, long rumored to have existed deep in the desert west of the Nile River in Egypt or Libya. In writings dating back to the thirteenth century, the authors spoke of a city which was ”white as a dove” and called it ”The Oasis of Little Birds”.

”By the gate you will find a bird sculptured. Stretch up your hand to its beak and take from it a key. Open the gate with it and enter the city. You will find much wealth and the king and queen in their place sleeping the sleep of enchantment.”

Well, like so many explorers before us, we haven’t found Zerzura yet. But we’ve found many other interesting things.

While walking towards a lonely tree, we suddenly discovered something very unexpected next to it: a sewing machine on a table, and two pieces of blue cloth swaying in the wind, one attached to the table, the other to the tree. It puzzled us quite a lot, but then we understood.

It was of course The Mythical Sewing Machine of the Saharan nomadic people the Tuaregs, famous for wrapping themselves in blue clothes. This is where they come when the fashions change or they simply need some new stuff.

As if to prove it, we even met a Tuareg dressed in her finest festive clothes. Her name was Klaar al-Les, and she was more than happy to let herself be photographed while sitting in the stranded jeep that was also present at this strange place, together with a plane and a, erm, boat, as well as a table with certain scientific instruments.

It was quite obvious these were things left behind by our forerunners, people like Ralph Bagnold, László Almásy and Patrick Clayton. CC, being a builder of certain skills herself, was particularly impressed by the plane’s motor.

The place we’d reached seemed to be a fairly popular hang out for the local natives. We learned that it’s called The Husk, and there are wild stories of a person called AM Radio connected to it, said to be the one having left behind all these things. At certain times, they claimed, you can see his shadow instead of your own …

With our trained anthropologist minds, CC and I quickly dismissed this as nonsense. The name «AM Radio» of course derives from when an explorer showed a radio to one of the natives in the 1930’s.

What puzzled us most was the boat. I know Almásy found ”The Cave of Swimmers” and that this area of Sahara once was filled with water. But why would anyone want to bring a boat now? My mind was racing and the sun was beating. Suddenly, when I looked up, I thought I saw CC floating in the air. The desert can make you see strange things – it was time to get some sleep.

CC had given me a rucksack large enough to live in. Still, we also had a tent, and slept in there for the night.

The next morning, we walked around to take a last look at the place before we continued our expedition. It was then CC noticed something suspicous about my shadow. It didn’t look like me, but like someone with a hat carrying things (sticks?) on the back … Puzzled, we continued our search for Zerzura.

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~ by theresecarfagno on May 31, 2008.

One Response to “Carfagnos of Arabia”

  1. my, what an adventure!

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