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The Death of a Living Dune

October 2002 was the first time we went to the sand dunes about 40 miles north of Tera. We took our co-workers, Gary and Joy,with us. They had two guests from America with them and we wanted to show them something interesting. The first picture shows John, Gary, and their friends on top of a huge sanddune. From the top of this dune, you could look this picture you can see Joy about in the middle of the picture. In the background you can see some windbreak fencing. Take notice of the bush because that will be our anchor for the rest of the story. (Don't worry, Gary....I won't tell the full story.)

John discovered these dunes when he took somebody to their village in the bush. Across the roads from the dunes is a rather large village and just beyond the village is a lake.

The dunes were living dunes which means that they move with the wind, growing, changing shape, constantly in motion. The problem is, they were encroaching on the town which, instead of being between the devil and the deep blue sea, was between the dunes and the deep blue lake. So a project came in and put up cornstalk fences that acted as windbreaks to keep the sand from moving.

The third picture shows our family in December of 2002, the 2nd time we went to the dunes.

A couple of years passed and we didn't go to the dunes at all. Then in December 2004 we took Mike, Alesha, and Ryan Einfeldt. We were really disappointed because the dunes seemed a lot smaller than we remembered. We had told everybody how beautiful they were and then it was rather anti-climactic.

Then this year we took Jeremy....Jeremy who grew up visiting the amazing dunes in Michigan. Yes, there really are dunes in Michigan! Anyway, we were really disappointed this year. Bushes are growing everywhere and the dunes are just kind of sandy hills now. In this picture, Suzanne is near the top of the dune and the bush that I pointed out to you in the 2nd picture is right behind. Granted, in 4 years the bush probably grew a lot, but the dune definitely shrunk!

I'm sure the villagers are happy that their village has not been swallowed up by shifting sands. But it's disappointing to us because it was such a fun place to roll in the sand and jump off the edge of dunes and just forget your cares for a few hours.

Here is John contemplating the horizon. Again you can see the fencing, mostly broken down, but living bushes are taking its place. By the way, the photo is not really out of focus...there was just a lot of harmattan in the air. (For a good definition of harmattan, see John's blog:

Daniel and Jeremy had a mock battle with some kids who came to look at the strange white people. I think Jeremy, Daniel, and the kids all had great fun chasing each other around the dunes. Note the fencing beyond Daniel.

Well, maybe we'll have to go to Agadez sometime and see the real dunes of the Sahara Desert. Now, those are spectacular. (No, we don't live in the Sahara Desert. We live just south of it.)