Sunday, November 2, 2008

When taking a road trip in the desert, it is best to be prepared for everything

And by that, I mean have a full tank of gas in the car, note mile markers and know how to call police. Because seriously, there is nothing out there.

I left on a recent getaway to Jebel Danat, down near Ruwais on the border with Saudi Arabia. Once we got there, it was awesome - a five star hotel basically in the middle of nowhere, blue water and fine, sandy beaches. Lovely. Next time I vow to get out to see Yas Island, a nature preserve populated with tons of creatures by the late Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the nation. In the words of a friend, who saw a giraffe there on an excursion where she was the only tourist, "it's Jurassic Park-ish".

The trip there and back, though, are why I talk about preparation. For example, the highway might be called E11 in the road atlas, but no one you ask how to find the exit for it will know what you are talking about. After several misses, two nice Emiratis with dirt bikes in their trailer led us to it. Once heading in the right direction, we drove down a straight path through the desert and thought we were making good time.

Then we hit fog. Not just any fog. The kind of fog I now understand can cause a multiple fatality 200-car accident, like the one on the road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on Fog Tuesday back in March. Have you ever entered a steam room, and been blinded, afraid to move because you can't see the bench and fear you might accidentally place your hand on a stranger's crotch? Well, it was that kind of fog. It was streaming through the vents in the car, it was night time, and it was all very creepy. It blocked out everything. All the trucks had pulled over to the side of the road, but as two women in a Toyota Yaris well after midnight, we thought maybe we might be safer if we just kept inching along the road. And so we did, in muscle-spasmed silence, for well over an hour.

I have included a picture below, from the balcony, after we arrived, of the moment when it actually looked as though the fog was going to eat us.

On the way back, we couldn't help but grow irritated at how the highway itself had been laid out. In North America, I just took it for granted that if there was a rest stop on one side of the road, there would be one on the other side, too. Not here. Might you think though, that if there was only one gas station, that there would be an option to turn around and double back relatively close to it? Oh no. Getting gas while on this highway involved driving several kilometres in one direction, turning around, stopping, then driving several kilometres in the other direction before being able to get back going in the right direction.

And if you are ever in that neck of the woods, do not forget to watch out for car parts scattered across the road.

1 comment:

Abid said...

It's cuz gas is so cheap that you can afford to drive 10 km looking for it

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