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along-the-ghats-mathura-10.jpgThe city of Tifrit seems to lift as domed towers from the fog on the horizon. Rain is dissipating, the clouds like curtains opening to a warm sun that dries the boards of your ship’s deck in the early morning hours. On this enormous expanse of crisp, blue water, there is an entrance to the city floating closer and closer into view. It begins as a tall stone staircase at the water’s edge, leading up until the steps disappear under gargantuan marble doors that are shut with equally large locks in the shapes of clasped metal hands. Many other ships and some smaller boats are on a slow paddle closer, matching your casual speed. There are many people already docking in a crowded little space, but it is not chaotic. Rather, it is serenely quiet; the only sound is that of sloshing sea foam and low murmurs of conversation between travelers thanking their transports.

The smell of incense is strong, very strong. Bright pink flowers migrate in paths around the boats and scatter out into the ocean as if their petals propel them like fish. It is beautiful. Peaceful. And rightfully so. After all, this is where one comes to die.