Cold fusion in the hot Sahara desert
It’s 7 a.m in Marrakesh and Todd and I have just been sold from one tour agency to another, like so many camels.
Yesterday, we bought into a three-day Sahara expedition in an air-conditioned car from the charming Mohamed at Hilali Tours. We’d passed on the more popular Sahara Tours because the woman doing the sales pitch was suffering from a terminal case of indifference and their vans had no climate control, an unbearably painful concept for a desert-bound trip.
As it turned out we were the only people who wanted to go to the desert with Hilali Tours. So, a few hundred dirhams exchanged hands, and Todd and I were ushered into the well-worn Sahara Tours van.
Even before our ride left Marrakesh, seven young British men sitting in the back of our van started bantering about the desert. Without turning around, it was impossible to tell one jolly-old voice from another, so the following conversation is exactly as we heard it.
“So, why is the desert so hot?”
“Isn’t it a micro-climate thing? Or a wind thing?”
“No. It’s the sand. The structure of the sand.”
“The structure of the sand? What do you mean`?”
“Well, it’s crystalline. Like a diamond. Each piece of sand is one crystalline molecule.”
“Each grain of sand’s one molecule?”
“Yes, a molecule.”
“But, I can break a grain of sand. You can’t break a molecule.”
“Yes you can. Water is H2O; you can break it into hydrogen and oxygen.”
“I can’t break water though. I can break sand!”
“That’s because sand is crystalline like a diamond. It’s organic.”
“Organic? So sand’s made of carbon?”
“Yeah, there’s carbon in there.”
“But carbon’s an atom. I can’t break an atom.”
“That’s because it’s crystalline!”
Photos from the Sahara Desert, Morocco (Part 1)
If you can’t see the photo slide show above, view the photo set on Flickr.