I’ve seen pictures of sand storms and they look pretty freaking cool. Massive, burgeoning cloud of dust billowing out over the desert? Yes please. March is dust/sand storm season, and I eagerly awaited Nat Geo worthy, photogenic sand storms. In fact, Tuesday night after rugby, I told my friend Moustafa how excited i was to see a dust storm, whenever it felt like showing up.
“Why do you want to see one? They’re awful.”
“They look cool,” I naively replied.
“We had one today.”
I hadn’t noticed. But on Wednesday morning, after performing my am routine amidst a terrible bout of sneezing (over 20 sneezes at least), I ate my words (and they tasted like sand). It’s been windy. Whoever coined the expression ‘the wind howled’ must have lived in Egypt during a sand storm. The wind batters the windows, howls like some ethereal thing damned to wander the earth, and rattles like an asthmatic skeleton. It’s eerie. And distracting to the kids.
The day dragged on, and I felt tired and drowsy and could easily have filled in for Sneezy in the new ABC show Once Upon a Time. I stole a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom and carried it around in my purse, reeling off squares as I needed them. Talk about awful. By the end of the day, I looked out the windows and saw yellow. Not pretty sunset yellow, but bleak, sandy, chicken curry yellow. All of the kids silently stared out the window at it. Was there a billowing cloud rolling toward us? No. Could I see the street lamp at the end of the road? No. So this was it. I was in the middle of a dust storm.
“They say it’ll last for 72 hours,” Sarah said. Her classmates eagerly chimed in, saying how it was going to get colder and dustier and sandier.
The kids’ short break was canceled, because weather did not permit them to go outside.
Twice the power went out.
Then the fire alarm went off, so we had to go outside anyway.
The wind whipped around us and dust filled my nostrils. Have I said I can sympathize with migrant workers trudging through the dust bowl? I lied. Good god. It was awful. I texted Moustafa and told him I changed my mind. I didn’t want to see a dust storm anymore. He told me it would rain soon, and it would clear the air. It did.
Amy said it’s called the khamasin, a dust storm taking its name from the Arabic number ’50,’ which denotes the amount of days the storm lasts. For 50 days, it can intermittently blow in and wreak havok. And here I thought the bora in Croatia was bad. At least the bora was frigid and indigenous to the mountains; here, the dust and sand penetrate the air and find their way into your lungs. It’s brutal.
I thought maybe my kids would be wrong about the storm, but upon coming home on Wednesday afternoon, I found a message in my inbox from the touch rugby league saying Friday’s games may be canceled due to the sand storm. Time to break out the bedouin scarves.