White, white … and a little black

Except for the soaptree yucca and some other exotic plants sticking up from the white, it looked exactly like an idyllic winter landscape, with water puddles from snow melting in the sun and the road nicely ploughed.

But it wasn’t snow, it was gypsum and I was in the biggest gypsum desert there is, the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, USA. Since gypsum isn’t known to melt in the sun, the water on the road had come from above: there had been some rather heavy rain showers on the previous day.

Walking on the gypsum sounded a bit like walking on tightly packed snow on a very cold day – it squeaked a little.

Some of the dunes had beautiful wavy patterns (until someone disturbed the harmony by walking or tobogganing, of course).

I was there in sharp sunlight a little before noon, far from the ideal time to witness the shadows and patterns in the dunes. But still I was mesmerised.

I was quickly brought back to my senses when my eyes fell upon this creature who was leisurely crossing the road:

Was it a tarantula? I got quite excited and managed to drop my camera lens cap, you know one of these black things. Funnily enough it was nowhere to be found. How on earth is it possible to lose something not so small and very black in a white landscape??