Saturday, November 05, 2005
Sun and LOTS of Sand
I went on a desert safari this weekend!! It was AWESOME!
We started off at 3 pm when the driver picked us up from home. We drove east, all the way to the Dubai-Hatta road (which is almost in Oman). We stopped at this spot where there were 3 small shops. Two were grocery stores and the other one sold souvenirs at outrageous prices to stupid tourists. Of course, the grocery was raking in money cos it had the advantage of being located in the middle of nowhere! My friend was outraged when he was told the price of a Kodak film would be 25 AED (it usually it costs 7 AED!).
We bought ice creams and Pepsi and waited for about half an hour there, waiting for all the vehicles to gather before we went dune bashing. I got tired of all the waiting so went and asked one of the organisers [let’s call him CG, for Cute Guy ;o) ] why we had to wait for everyone else. He told me that dune-bashing is always done in a group, cos we were going into the desert and if anything happened, we could get help.
We finally set off into the desert, and though I’ve lived in this country for the major part of my life, I had never experienced the power of the desert before. I had a newfound respect for those Bedouins who crossed the desert on camels and survived. And for the Arabs who made this country what it is today from what it was. I, had sunscreen to protect my skin, sunglasses to protect my eyes, and was in the climate-controlled environment of a powerful Toyota land cruiser. The Bedouins had nothing but the will to survive. It was just a sport for me, dune- bashing. But for them, the desert was a way of life, one which I can’t even begin to imagine.
I soon realised what CG was talking about when he called this a group activity. We were going up this particularly high hill when our vehicle just slid sideways, sand flying all over, covering us. And there we were, the left side of the vehicle stuck in the all-encompassing sand. And the harder our driver tried to get us out, the deeper we sank into the sand. Everyone stopped. The whole group! Our driver got out and started scooping the sand away from the tyres. Another, more experienced driver got into the cruiser, and two others came up and directed from the outside. A lot of the people in the other vehicles took videos. I couldn’t take pictures. I was too busy hanging from my seatbelt! But I did take pictures of other vehicles stuck in a similar manner, although our land cruiser was stuck in a more dangerous angle.
After dune bashing we were taken to the campsite. We went for camel rides and then when we got back. The campsite was this huge ground which was surrounded by small tents. One of the tents served Arabic coffee and dates. Another tent had Arabic costumes that we could wear and take pictures. There was this lady in one of the tents who was applying henna tattoos, which was really cool! I got one on my leg. :o)
There was a stage at the centre and a lot of low tables around the stage. We had cushions for seats. It was very comfortable. It was a nice cool evening. Everything was just perfect!
The food was delicious! We started off with shawarmas, and then there were barbequed chicken legs, lamb chops, and kebabs with homuz (which is a dip made of chickpeas, really delicious with above mentioned bbqed stuff!) and rice and Arabic bread and chicken curry and lots of other stuff too.
Then there was the belly dancing. Boy! Can she move or what!
I’ve posted a few pictures. But really, it doesn’t do justice! And anyway, I was enjoying myself too much to be bothered about taking pictures!
It was a perfect kind of day! My best Eid ever! :o)