On the desert trail
A friend, a stonemason, shares with us his experience of working in a country where the heat and the desert make it almost impossible to work. He shares his extraordinary experience with us.
THIS SUMMER A FRIEND OF OURS WENT TO THE DESERT. HE WORKED FOR SEVERAL WEEKS AS A STONE CUTTER. IN THIS HOSTILE UNIVERSE WHERE THE SUN IS CONSTANTLY BEATING DOWN, THE HABITS OF THE JOB AND THE DAILY ROUTINE ARE QUICKLY PUT INTO QUESTION. WE ARE VERY LUCKY THAT HE HAS AGREED TO SHARE HIS EXPERIENCE IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE.
In accordance with the author's wishes, no names or locations will be mentioned.
I had the opportunity in August 2022 to go and work outside France and the borders of Europe. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and the job offer came at the right time. So I jumped on the plane to the desert. First real big trip, first mission abroad. We were greeted at the arrival terminal by our monkey¹; long hair, a smile on his face and his santiag on his feet. We head for the hotel where we are briefed on the site: we have to install an Indian monument, a Mughal work of art from the 16th century acquired in Rajasthan.
7am, departure for the construction site, lost in the middle of the desert. It is early, but the heat is already overwhelming. To get to the work site, we had to pass three guard posts. Many of them are holding assault rifles: another land, another rule. It is a very strange territory for those who come from the West. The sky is blue-grey, the land a monochrome yellow-brown, stretching as far as the eye can see. It is not far from fifty degrees. Despite this, we set to work quickly, time is short, we have to be efficient.
It is during this first day that I really discover my team. And cohesion is hard to find. The first week is very difficult, our monkey¹ had to go back to France in a hurry and we are completely free-lance. The heat is intense, every action requires a huge effort. We miss the implementation of our work, we have to work hard² and start again. At the end of the first week, the rest of the team arrives. There are four of us, we work with the same material, we speak the same language... The machine is launched. Two weeks later, we reached the end of our work and the site. It was hard, but instructive, the French building sites seem, as a result, strangely more comfortable, but not necessarily as rewarding. But with the work, we must not forget the trip, on the last days, we take the opportunity to visit the desert.
Everything is different, the sounds, especially the echo of these footsteps on the great empty land. We explore the city a little, and as we walk through these straight streets, framed by concrete buildings so cold despite the heat.
There is a phrase from Camus' The Stranger that comes to mind: "They wanted to be alone, to move forward alone, since alone they had built a cold, torrid city in the salt and sand."
Monkey: Expression to name the leader or master builder of the site.
Royalty free image
Bucher: Action of removing material.