Rumor has it that the Creator, wanting to help the inhabitants of these lands, divided the most precious things he had among them. The Kazakhs received a golden ax so that they could break through the Altai mountain range, thus allowing water to flow into the lowlands and fertilize their fields. On the other hand, he intended to give the Uyghurs the golden key to open a treasury full of valuables located in the Tarim River valley. Unfortunately, his daughter lost the key. God was so angry that he imprisoned the girl between the banks of the river, and so this was how the Taklamakan Desert was created.
A place that has such a terrible history from its very beginning cannot, of course, have a friendly name. In Turkish, Taklamakan means “enter, but you will never leave.” Due to its size, lack of water, and frequent sandstorms, passing through this infamous desert was like playing with death. Although entering into the kingdom of Kara-Buran, or the black hurricane, was the wrath of merchants and explorers, yet this intriguing showcase from the dawn of time has aroused man’s desire to confront nature and seek new experiences.
I chose this desert for training managerial staff in extremely difficult conditions for a good reason. It is to stimulate determination, enrich team spirit and teach functioning in stressful situations. All this is necessary to be one step ahead of others. Competition in modern business life forces us to create new solutions and apply non-standard methods. Academic methods of “brainwashing” and believing in formulas that say anyone can overcome any obstacle are simply not enough. It’s different when someone has brushed against the limits of human endurance and overcome their weaknesses. He has overcome fear and broken mental barriers, discovering the enormous adaptability of the human spirit and how much he can really take. Self-confidence and believing in your skills are priority features. The more confident you are, the greater your chances of success. Self-confidence is best obtained, for example, in the extreme conditions of the desert, which can easily bring a man to hit rock bottom, which allows us to select an outstanding individual from among the average multitude of people.
We were immersed in sandy nothingness. Endless dunes were all around us, sterile without any forms of life, engulfed in different dune formations. The pictorial scenery is dominated by sinusoidal outlines and half crescent shaped barchans. Long shadows thrown in the morning soon become barely visible as it gets blistering hot. We walk in the footsteps of a long caravan, which often disappears from our eyes in the labyrinth of steep hills. Everyone carries their equipment on their backs, although logistics support is provided by 24 double hump Bactrian camels, transporting our water, food and camping gear. The march across the fine sand of 100 meter high dunes is extremely burdensome, so I never choose the shortest route, but try to go windward, on a more beaten slope.
The air is dry like pepper, and the bright light gives a blinding radiance. Heat intensifies the dry wind, which depletes the body’s water and dries the skin. Excessive loss of salt causes painful muscle spasms. The danger of dehydration, stroke and sunburn still hangs over our heads. Over time, every new step requires more effort than the previous one. I feel my increased heartbeat, since the volume of blood drops in a dehydrated organism and the heart beats like a hammer to keep it pumping. My concentration is poor, and at times I fall into dementia. This is a real school of survival and character building.
The tough, ruthless desert will always make you pay for your self-confidence. As often happens in April and May, the wind hits the ground, blowing thick clouds of dust and sand. You cannot see anything anymore, since a gray wall unites the earth and the sky. Billions of grains scratch and sting exposed body parts, penetrating your throat and nose, make it difficult to breathe. The furious storm wants to choke us, it fills us with feelings of anxiety and fear. We have to stop so as not to lose the way, since such storms have caused many, many tragedies.
Fortunately, not much more was left to our destination. The next day, we found ourselves on another planet, an oasis full of triumphant greenery, and its life provided us with hospitality. We cured our wounded feet and could finally bathe and drink without limits! Fresh clothes, a cold beer, citrus fruits and a cup of coffee become indescribable luxuries.