I wanted to buy a shirt in Dubai and we walked to the appropriate Souk but found nothing. One has to know the area well and get to know all the people to deal here.
|Sahid's Drivers Seat|
|Getting To the Desert|
Back to the hotel, lunch, and off we go via SUV into the desert. While it is a little cooler after 3.30 PM, it is still plenty hot. Lucky the car has A/C. We are 6 passengers in the Toyota Land Cruiser, which the driver, Sahid, is convinced is the best car for desert driving. With its manual shift, it outperforms any other vehicle by any other manufacturer in many ways. His car had over ½ million miles on it and was in perfect condition. It was clean and well maintained. He drives it every day, and every day he uses the 4 wheel drive features in the loose sand of the desert.
The way out of town going west sees gradually fewer and fewer houses and then, nothing but desert; as far as one could see only sandy desert. Our first stop, after we drove for about an hour was a camel pen. We just got out of the SUV to stretch and to say hello to the animals, some were feeding on hay and some had young ones, who still nursed. The beasts were used to people and let you pet them, which does not happen often with camels.
|The Camels Mostly Ignored Us|
|Steep, Rutted Dunes|
After being bounced around, traversing some steep dunes and sometimes close to a tip over (that's what it felt like), we joined all the cars in this caravan (20) near a large dune and took a break. All tourists got out of each car and we all walked up this dune. Three steps forward, sliding back 2 steps. It is hell to walk or climb in loose sand. We were huffing and puffing but
|Steep Dunes, Hard To Walk Up Them|
We all drifted back to the SUVs and did more sliding around the sand dunes with the cars. It was, (felt to me), like the drivers were trying to outdo each other, showing us who can be the wildest; with yippee's and yahoo’s we arrived in another area were we were given water and then all the cars re-inflated their tires. This took a bit of time, but we were not walking anywhere. The sun now is almost gone but there were too many clouds for good sunset pictures. Yet, I LOVED those clouds; they sure cooled things down a bit.
When all the tires were re-inflated, we drove from there into a desert camp. This was a very, very large area that contains Old Fort-like buildings where we would spend the evening. 20 or so such forts (camps) spread out in this huge area. Our caravan of about 20 SUVs, all white Toyota Land Cruisers, arrived at our designated camp. We were a crowd of about 120 people. We saw some other structures far away but never heard the other camps. Outside of our camp were camels but Carol and I disregarded them and walked into the Fort through a large door, into a large plaza-like
|Our Oasis, Al Jabal Village|
After getting seated we could take a free camel ride outside the Fort but Carol and I opted out of that. We have ridden camels a few times; we knew it would only be a photo op and a few rounds in the parking lot. Carol explored the shops and I enjoyed my soda pop. Ah, this is a tourist version of an experience in an Arab camp, after a long day walking in the desert. Somehow I can understand how it must have felt. I had a sense of accomplishment, a sense of camaraderie, of relying on each other to beat this landscape, this desert. To just relax for the moment, have a much needed drink and lookup at the stars. It was a hard life then, a much simpler life but fulfilling nonetheless.
I was shaken out of my reverie when Carol showed me the cashmere shawl she bought at the shop here. It was only $ 12 US and made up for the high cost of her beer which was 30 Dirhams or $ 8.25 US.
Appetizers arrived and all the camel riders came back to their tables. Then a buffet dinner was served. Men formed in one line, woman in another line. I am not sure what the women were served but our food was good. Different way of using spices but the chicken shish-kebob was delicious. We were offered lots and lots of different salads.
Strangely enough, the dessert table was set up for both sexes.
Carol disappeared for a while and then came back with a henna tattoo on her right hand. It had to dry so she was careful. She was told it would last for 2 weeks and then disappear slowly.
The lights dimmed and the music started to play and….. Belly dancing! The woman was tall, blond with long hair and Caucasian with very pale skin. She had a kind of Scandinavian look. I was
expecting an Arabian beauty.
She was a good dancer though, but again, my hormones are not what they used to
be. She performed for a good 15 minutes and left with applause.
|Our Belly Dancer|
Next was a whirling dervish in a festive costume. He spun and spun and at one point, his billowing skirt started to light up. And then light up in more and more different colors and patterns. His clothing was electrified with mini light bulbs that could be controlled or programmed. Tech has arrived even in traditional dervish swirling. What an age we live in now.
The evening was good, relaxed, albeit, of course, touristy.
Our driver Sahid took us back to the hotel.