I was reminded of our final activity by my alarm call at 6 a.m. climbing back up the dunes to view the sunrise I drowsily considered returning to my warm bed as I stumbled out of the tent in what seemed like the middle of the night. But determination gripped me, and blurry-eyed, I climbed the dunes with only the shadows ahead to guide me.

And it all paid off. The dark sky morphed into pink, yellow, and blue watercolor layers as the sun rose, and black silhouettes morphed into colored dunes that were bathed in the morning’s colors.

It’s safe to say that we all felt slightly different when we left the Sahara than when we arrived. I was humbled by the Berbers’ simple way of life and learned that nature has a greater power than the things I rely on at home. The desert is still one of my favorite places on earth, despite the fact that it lacks the majority of the things I value most in my daily life, such as shops, social media, and technology.