The Azalai is a caravan route through the Ténéré region of the Saharan desert where camel trains have transported salt and gold for a thousand years. Along the route stood one single acacia tree, the only living thing in an ocean of sand. This was the most isolated tree in the world, 150 km from any other.
This acacia, known simply as The Tree of Ténéré, was the last surviving plant from a time when the desert was less parched than it is today, thanks to roots reaching deep down into a water pocket, an underground pool hidden more than 30 meters below the desert. It’s easy to see how the Tuareg caravan riders, themselves desert survival specialists, held the tree and its amazing fortitude in highest regard. Breaking its branches for firewood or letting the camels eat from the leaves were considered blasphemy.
This loneliest tree in the world was one of very few landmarks along the Azalai, a sacred testament to the resilience of life, that had guided caravans for centuries. In spite of this, and the fact that it was the only obstacle for miles around, a truck driver that had drunkenly fallen asleep behind the wheel crashed into it in 1973, and killed it.
The scent is as an olfactory impression of gold, with radiant warmth from saffron and blood orange, and the glossy, luxurious musk velvione (a material that has been described as pressing the nose to the skin of a newborn’s scalp). Gum acacia, a syrup made from acacia sap, provides sugary sweetness balanced by salty amber and incense. A touch of mint tea and dried fruit pays homage to the Tuareg caravan riders.
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