For me this was a trip down the memory lane to the desert sands we walked together some time ago and a trip meant to expand our Tunisian horizons. Sif es Souane was our goal… 17 days, three thousand kilometers and one broken CV-joint later it still remains a destination to be reached in the future… In sh’Allah.

Hey my big little brother! I’m heading south again, to the desert, to take your ashes there. You said yourself that the starry skies of Sahara are the most beautiful skies ever. I am glad I had the means and the opportunity to show you those skies. I just wish you could still see them. Maybe you still can… You know, I was never angry at you because you left me in Douz all those years ago. I was just sad because I lost a dear companion who helped me put little Nissko together, and because I lost a damn good navigator. And I missed you, even during that long drive from Douz to Monastir airport, where not a single word was spoken among us, and even more on the lonely drive back. I miss you now even more than then, more than ever. I don’t think I will ever make peace with your leaving. I can’t imagine your pain… mine is just overwhelming in its omnipresence. It’s everywhere. All the time. In every thought, every memory… I can see you walking the desert dunes wrapped in your burnus with your cheche blowing with the wind like wings of a seagull. You should have not deserted me even if I did desert you… did I?

My big little brother, I can see the shores of Africa…

On board to Africa, again.Take me to Douz, where the fun starts.The Convoy.Getting stuck and unstuck in the sand. It's all about having fun, though some don't quite understand that.Bedouin art.

Hey my big little brother! We’re in Douz again. I remember how we came here togethr for your first time, how happy you were when we got your first burnus and cheche. Douz is still the same as you liked it, colorful and smelly and nice and friendly, full of donkeys… but you are so far away…

Hey my big little brother! I’m smoking chicha and writing these lines. I remember you hating the smell of chicha the first time we were together in Tunis. You sat few tables away from us in the cafe in Monastir, claiming that the smoke fumes make you sick. A year later we almost couldn’t get the pipe out of your hands and mouth. Another year later you even smoked jordanian rose flavored tobacco, something I still cannot fathom. I guess your stomach grew stronger over the years…

Hey my big little brother! Tunisia is sadly a bit different than the last time we were here together. I’m not quite sure if la liberté suits them. There seems to be trash everywhere, because littering all, even the beach of Monastir where we jumped from the cliffs, seems to be an expression of freedom. Much more trash, much less tourists. The turtles they sell on the streets are tiny and there is virtually nobody to buy them. I can’t believe Torta and Tuga were that little back in the cold December of 2009 when we took them home.

Punky knows how to find shadow in the desert, digging away the hot sand.On the fast track around El Mida to Ain Huilat Richet.Tackling the dunes.The drivers consulting.Full speed ahead.

Hey my big little brother! Our desert plans are quite bold this year. Ain Ouadette is not the goal, but only the first step towards the real dunes around Sif es Souane. We shall see what the will of Allah is. I just know I am taking you with me to the desert, to gaze forever at the beautiful starry skies of Sahara.

Hey my big little brother! Remember Tembaine? Just shortly after passing this holy Berber mountain I managed to break one of Toyota’s CV joints. It wasn’t pretty when the car refused to move at all without lockers engaged. But I somehow managed, using only rear-wheel drive, to get us off of the dunes and par pistes around Jebil back to Douz. It took Uroš and myself, with a helping hand from Mišo and agent spécial Tahar and some mechanics who managed to damage the driveshaft too, around five hours to replace the damaged CV joint and oil seal and make my little Yota driveable again. That was a good feeling, to be able to move again. Even with another day lost, on top of three of those lost because of trouble with getting the permits to enter the desert, and despite Grega’s futile resistance, our goal stays the same – Sif es Souane awaits us, In sh’Allah.

Only rear-wheel drive LC80Changing the CV-joint in Camping Desert Club at DouzOn the top over Ain Huilat Richet.Reaching the top dune over Ain Huilat Richet.Group photo at the top dune over Ain Huilat Richet.

Hey my big little brother! The last light of the last day of April saw us jump into the warm waters of Ain Huilat Richet source. In was a long long day, starting with trouble fixing Mišo’s tire and me welding the exhaust pipe of little Yota. Nevertheless it took us just a tad more than half a day to reach Ain Ouadette from Douz past El Mida and Guerkleb and Dekamis. The last dune fields were swiftly passed thanks only to Tahar who took the wheel of Grega’s Nissan. But we’re here. As far away out of reach as we brothers ever came…

Contemplating the dunes.A bit different selfie.Downhill.The descent.The Sunset of 1st of May.

Hey my big little brother! Guess what? Mišo became a hadji some time ago, and so did I. How many times were we in Kairouan together? You become a hadji if you visit Mecca… However nine pilgrimages to Kairouan count as much as one to Mecca. I know I did not perform the hadj as Quran requests… bit Hadji Ipsilon doesn’t sound bad, does it? But even being a hadji did not give me enough mercy of Allah to see Sif es Souane. The desert was too much for us. The bitterness of defeat lies heavy upon my heart and soul. But long ago have I learned that you cannot force your will upon the Desert, but you must be humble when facing it. You are always at the mercy of the Desert and Allah almighty. But the moment when you turn the wheel of your old faithful machine back north is always a sad sad moment. I am leaving behind Sif es Souane unreached, the desert sands, the warm sources, starry nights, and I am leaving behind your ashes, scattered on the highest dune of Ain Huilat Richet in the glory of setting sun and desert stars just being born… You will walk the dunes forever and I will be coming back… to visit, and once to keep you company for eternity. For we both were born under a wandering star.

All we are is dust in the wind.One happy furball.Collecting wood for evening campfire and morning bread baking.See there, little one, it's Tembaine.At the top of Tembaine.

It was hot and Punky was thirsty from the climb to the top of Tembaine.Punky enjoying the company of native sloughi.Punky and native sloughi - little podenco found its match in speed and playfulness...Just another sunset at Tembaine.The (de)briefing.

Hey my big little brother! I never liked those moments when the shores of Africa disappear into the night. It makes the end of another adventure, another journey into the secrets of the desert and of the soul. Those journeys that make me richer and at the same time make me feel like I am at eternal loss. But this time the loss seems too deep to ever fill with happiness again. I dreamed that one day you would come to the desert with me again, driving your own old faithful machine, I dreamed that we would again play our guitars together by the campfire, smoking chicha and laughing at agent spécial Tahar. I dreamed that we would gaze together at the beautiful stars over Sahara, at the stars you said were the most beautiful of all, even more beautiful than the stars over an open ocean. I believed you, you saw more world than I did. Now I will have to see for myself. I will have to find the star you became. I miss you, my big little brother, I miss you so much.

Enjoing the evening in Sahara by the campfire.At the Fort of Ksar Ghilane.In the dunes west of Di Zmila.Even Punky laughed when I fell trying to chase her on the sand.

Hey my big little brother! I promise I will come to visit. We will sit on the dune again together and enjoy our silence. I will, from time to time, try and tune your guitar and play »Wish you were here«. I will bring a bottle of whisky and we shall talk about our lives, about our dreams of becoming rock stars and world travelers and happy. I will bring friends too, they do miss you too. And I will cry for you forever in those moments of overwhelming grief, hidden from the face of the world and buried deep into the darkness of my soul.

Smile.Polona and Punky on a dune. At sunset, of course.Spots.Bye Africa... until next time, In sh'Allah.