Robert Twigger specialized in “selling silence” by taking Western tourists deep into the Sahara:
How much silence does a person need? You can get greedy for it, addicted to it. I know people who spend half their time in the desert and the other half working out how to get back to it. They are running away from life, some say; they are certainly running away from noise. Recent research suggests that long-term exposure to noise doesn’t just damage hearing (and the average decibel level in Cairo is 85, often getting to 95 and higher, which is only slightly quieter than standing next to a jackhammer); it damages your heart. Continuous noise causes chronic stress. Stress hormones become your constant companion, circulating day and night, wearing out your heart. That must be why the first few days in the desert seem so wonderfully rejuvenating. I’ve seen an elderly man — a retired heart surgeon, coincidentally — go from doddering around the camp to springing along the edge of dunes and rocky cliffs. That’s the power of silence.
(Photo by Alfonso Ianni)