"Not all those who wander are lost"

Desert Safari

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.

-Paul Theroux

 

2/15

RIT organized a desert safari as one of our trips so we stood outside the building at Etisalat waiting for our shuttle.  We piled into a big van and drove eastward out into the desert.  He pulled off on the side of the highway and we waited.  After a while some land cruisers pulled up and picked us and various other people up.  We headed down the road and into the desert in a precession of while land cruisers sliding around on the sand, driving on ridges, and pumping around on dunes.

They stopped on a steep hill, slid sideways to spray sand into the air, and swerved around to give us a good ride before stopping the long line of cars and telling us to take pictures.  We piled out of the cars and played around, took some pictures and played in the sand.

After a few minutes they wrangled everyone back into the cars and were off again.  This time it was a more direct route back to the highway.  We passed the spot where we had been dropped off and headed down a sandy road into the desert again.

We arrived at their “camp” or small city and were set free.

Andy, Stan, and I attempted to sandboard, but something about putting a snowboard on sand doesn’t really make it a sandboard or make it work.  The board stuck to the sand and we had to hop to get going on the tiny hill.  Stan managed to get off balance and tumble head over heels and a very amusing fashion, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it.  It was especially hard to turn since I was barefoot in broken bindings.

Next we headed over for a camel ride which really only consisted of a line of two or three camels walking in a 15m circle.  Never the less, we waited in line, then waited more after people cut us (as is the way, push to the front or wait at the back forever).  Watching everyone on the camels might have been better than the ride itself.  People screamed and held on for dear life when the camels went up with their back legs first to stand up.  The ride was moderately entertaining, but I have now ridden a camel so it’s all good.  It’s actually the first animal, apart from my dog when I was really little, that I have ever ridden.  Overall though I just felt bad for the poor camels who have to endure constant gaggles of annoying tourists or get smacked by the owners.

(No hands!)

(The hard part: not getting pitched over when it goes down)

It was getting closer to time for food so we eagerly walked back to the tables in the middle of the camp.  Dinner wasn’t ready but we got appetizers which were falafel, battered and fried green & regular onion, and small fried dough coated with honey.  We had several rounds before it was time for dinner.  The hoards of people jumped up and formed lines as soon as food was mentioned.  To my surprise and great appreciation there was a massive amount of vegetarian food.  I loaded my plate with Arabic bread, hummus, tebouleh, chickpea salad, salad, biranyi rice, and three kinds of main dishes of which I only identified dal.  More unexpected than the variety of vegetarian food was the quality of it: it was actually great tasting food.  Once we had stuffed our guts with dinner we got a show.  First we got a traditional (for somewhere, not really sure where) dance where A guy wearing a large circular dress spun in circles while working with a bunch of disks.

(Spinning dude doing what he does best)

Next was a belly dance.  The lady was older than expected, but did some interesting dances, especially one where she dance balancing a sword on her head then hip.  Before she had finished our driver found us and said it was time to head out so we left and piled back into the land rovers for the ride back.

2 Responses

  1. This is what I miss the most about Dubai

    March 10, 2011 at 2:50 am

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    August 25, 2015 at 11:36 am

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