From time to time as I go to Rainbow Gatherings and festivals (including the Road Junky Festival of Creativity) I meet people who have been on previous retreats in the Sahara and it’s quite confusing to see them in another context. Over 150 souls have come on the meditation and yoga retreats in Morocco now and while I’m pretty good with names and faces, people begin to slip out of my memory as time goes by.
There are characters, however, that I will never forget.
I met one of them again recently in a rainbow gathering – a mysterious Lithuanian man who came on the meditation retreat in 2013. He didn’t take part in the meditation or dance therapy workshops, had nothing to say in the sharing circles, didn’t sing with us, and yet he was one of the most memorable personalities of the retreat. For one thing he was enormous and yet extremely gentle – he took it upon himself to prepare coffee for everyone in the mornings.
His most charming characteristic though was his reluctance to ever answer a direct question.
‘Hmm, you way to know someone is asking questions…mine is to tell stories.’
So as the days and evenings rolled by we learned more about him piece by piece through the stories he told; enigmatic tales that could never be clarified by a question. When he mentioned he had worked in a forest someone asked him:
‘And what were you doing there?’
‘Ah, you want to learn to plant a tree?’ he countered with good humour.
Or when he mentioned he had a son someone asked:
‘How old is your son?’
‘I think it’s not polite to talk about someone who is not here.’ he declared.
Then one day he decided he would visit Algeria. He took a half-liter bottle of water and a handful of dates and walked out of the sands and across the black gravel desert towards the border. He returned late that night and immediately offered to share the plate of food we had reserved for him from the dinner. He told us that when the border guard had seen him he had dropped his stick. A 2 meter tall Baltic giant emerging out of the dust probably wasn’t an everyday vision, after all.
‘Then he wanted to know where was my water – he didn’t mind if I had a passport but he was angry that I didn’t have enough water!’
It’s these kinds of intriguing, enigmatic characters that keep me coming back to Morocco to organise retreats in the Sahara.