This weekend started out very typically. I left work at 5:08, which counts as working late by the appearance of the parking lot:
At least I missed the rush I suppose. The next morning, we packed up Sandy (our new-to-us SUV, named for her locally appropriate color) and took child #2 to Girl Scouts camp. Once again, we followed the herd of SUVs into the desert.
Saturday, feeling twinges of responsible parenting, we decided we should go pick up child #2 from camp. Everything was going according to plan thus far, so I decided to add a little excitement to our day. Google maps put us close to an amazing stretch of sand dunes in Thumama park, the kids were all lost in their iPads anyway, and I made an executive decision to take the family exploring.
This plan (or lack of…) probably had several flaws, but the most important was in my estimation of Sandy’s off road ability. I love the chrome 20 inch rims, but a fat 2-wheel drive bloated pig of a truck does not do well in the desert. Not surprisingly (at least in hindsight), we were soon buried to the axles in sand. No pictures were allowed at this point, so you’ll have to use your imagination. We were lucky enough to flag down a passing Bedouin in an old pickup, and that’s when our adventure really began…
After pulling us out of the sand, he motioned for us to follow him. I didn’t want to disagree and then end up as vulture bait again, so we tried to keep pace along the hardscrabble wadis, through a gap in the fence meant to keep us on the correct side of the highway, onto the highway driving the wrong direction until we reached a crossover, and so on… My long-suffering family might have been questioning my judgement at this point. I certainly was.
Soon we arrived at a modest tent with a herd of sheep and an ATV; his family was gathering, and he had invited us in. At least, I really hope he was inviting us, because otherwise we were probably the most unlikely party-crashers of all time. Since his English and my Arabic did not intersect, we may never know. Fortunately his younger brother arrived, who spoke English and was very amused at our circumstances. However, if you’ve read my previous blogs, you know what happened next.
Arabian coffee drinking (I’m not sure the fire is actually necessary):
Our new friends were eager to show us their corner of the desert, so off we go in their 4×4. Perhaps the coolest thing I have seen in Saudi Arabia, if not anywhere, was the desert version of an RV:
If you want to take your 40′ camping trailer into the sand dunes, this guy with a 6-wheel drive monster truck will pull it there for you. I want one. Really.
As part of an impromptu cultural exchange, they demonstrated a folk dance, and we showed them the Texas Two-Step. There is a video, but it will only be released under great duress. Tonight we are shaking the sand out of our shoes, enjoying the air conditioning, and wondering just how lost I’ll have to get to top this one.