I’ve been struggling to think of a single word to describe the quality which distinguishes the desert here from the temperate rainforests of Japan where I’ve spent the last decade exploring. So far, the best word I can think of is desolation. The forested mountains of Japan literally screech and wail with a wonderfully vibrant, pulsing life fueled by abundant rainfall, insulating humidity and a fecundity which would make a polygamist blush. The desert though is stark, dry, empty and desolate. Going alone and deep into a desert is like engaging in a staring contest with a corpse, the deeper you look the more emptiness you find. I dearly love Japan and will never forget my time in her mountains, though I remember now what the desert first did to me as a boy, and why this homecoming with desolation ratifies an inner emptiness no other landscape can encompass or accommodate.