Do we still know what silence is? Do you believe “to hear silence” is an oxymoron? I don’t. Let me explain. I would like to start with a simple question: “Have you ever been to a place where there was no noise at all?” No traffic noise, no dogs barking, no neighbors arguing, no kids screaming, no people yelling into cell phones, no music, no telephone ringing, no wind hauling through narrow streets, no rain drops falling on metal roof, no sirens. The list goes on and on. If you live in a city all the above will be silent to you. You are so used to the ambient noise level that you don’t hear it anymore. Only if you listen will you hear. That is exactly what I did in Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni – the world’s largest salt pan. I sat in the middle of this endlessly seeming bleached expanse and listened – and for the first time in my life I heard silence. No sound at all! Nothing! It felt unreal, magic, dream like, otherworldly….

Salar de Uyuni

This would be a heaven for all soul searchers, gurus, yoga fans and any other spiritually inclined people, especially the ones who try to find themselves, the so-called soul-searchers, because here in this vast whiteness you easily can get lost. Sitting in the center of the Salar I was embraced by utter inner peace that could only be climaxed with a handful of coca leaves between my cheek and gums. Not that this stuff tastes good or knocks you into space (First, coca leaves are the unprocessed and harmless form of cocaine! Second, I am not a druggie, except for my great liking of beer and red wine), but it helps me getting over altitude sickness. The Salar de Uyuni lies at an impressive altitude of 3600m above sea level on Bolivia’s Altiplano (for Americans, who still have not adjusted to the much more pragmatic metric system: 3600 m are 11,811 ft).

I am a big fan of deserts. People cannot live without water hence deserts are either totally uninhabited by humans or under populated. Deserts are among the last strongholds on earth where nature still dominates – and where animals can still be at peace. And deserts are next to the Arctic, Antarctic and the oceans the only places where I don’t have to wear earplugs. Neither do I have to wear them at home – because I also live in a desert.

~Theo Allofs

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