Sunday, March 23, 2008

Inland Sea trip

Figuring we'd better get some tourist-type activities in before we leave, we took a trip to the Inland Sea this weekend. Since getting there on your own is a risky venture (no maps, some serious sand dunes, and no car insurance to pull you out of those sand dunes or, even worse, to tow your car after you flip it), the group we went with hired Arabian Adventures to drive us.

The sea, which amounts to an inlet naturally formed within rolling sand dunes, is only accessible through off-roading. Part of the trip's description was "dune bashing," which is just what it sounds like: Land Cruisers and their adrenaline-junkie drivers (uh, I mean that in the nicest possible way) took us over one steep dune after another, generally straight on, but often at an angle, which was borderline terrifying. Ron asked our driver at one point if he had ever flipped. When the guy said no, Ron said, "Would you tell us if you had?" The driver just laughed. He said he had been driving these dunes since he was 11, and since he was probably about 25, I was somewhat mollified. Somewhat.

The part of me that wasn't mollified was the part that knows how invincible 25-year-olds think they are, especially those with so much money that this is just something they do for fun. After we returned from the outing, someone told us about 2 men who did the dunes themselves--no professional drivers--and flipped their car. One was temporarily paralyzed but recovered. The other is a quadriplegic. Had I heard that story before going, I might not have paid all that money to have young men put our lives at risk--years of driving experience or not. I felt like we were in those SUV commercials where you read in fine print at the bottom of the screen, Professional drivers on a closed course. Don't try this yourself.

Once we got to the Inland Sea, we took about a half hour break to get out and look across to Saudi Arabia. Then we loaded up the cars again and the drivers took us to a camp on the Gulf about 15 minutes away where a barbecue was being prepared for us. The water was icy cold but crystal clear and beautiful. The kids had more fun sliding down the dunes than swimming, but at least Ivan was content to sit at the edge of the water and play with his bucket and shovel. The food was nothing remarkable, though not having to pack a lunch for the beach was pretty delicious in and of itself.

As we were packing up to leave, the guys running the camp had pop and rap music blaring from stereo speakers set up in a couple of the tents. A friend commented, "Hm. Kinda takes away from the authenticity of the moment." Which it did. That and the volleyball net.

This is where I admit a picture is worth a thousand words.

1 comment:

Shankar said...

I wish I'd got to do that while I was in Doha. Unfortunately every time I had the time, I didn't have company. And vice versa.