After about an hour of this the wind came up. An already cold night turned bitter, with the added pleasure of sand driven into our faces. I took off my spectacles, which were in danger of being sand-blasted into opacity if not actually blown off my nose, wrapped my abayya more firmly around my body, and followed the dim form ahead of me.
It then commenced to rain. Ali and Mahmoud appeared, waiting for us to catch them up so they could help control the mules. Soon the drops were pelting down; lightning and thunder moved in on us until the storm was directly over our heads as we pressed on, clinging to the halters of the skittish animals for fear our tents and pans would gallop off into the night. The track, never a road, turned slick, and then sticky, until even those of us who had four feet were having a hard time of it.
When the hail began I stopped dead. “Damn it all!” I shouted at full voice, necessary against the rush of wind and the fast-increasing crescendo of pings of the hailstones on the big, convex iron saj. “Why is it so almighty important that we reach Beersheva tonight?”