Finally left Doha to explore the coast. I’d been told that it was all the same once you left the dust of Doha behind, but I was delighted to see definite subtleties in the landscape as we drove the hour across the peninsula. There was the spinifexy type scrub, similar to WA for a while, this ebbed away and then just the occasionally large tree; it looked ‘African plain’. As we got closer to the coast it was the sandstone stacks that were the main feature – great monoliths showing the layers of geography – each stage quite striking.
There were camels either side of the road most of the way down. When we had set off my host, Kelly, had told the other car that we would go straight and turn at camel underpass number seven. This had amused me greatly. Then I worked out that a camel underpass is essentially a wildlife corridor under the highway – I was quite pleasantly surprised given the general lack of environmental and wildlife awareness I have witnessed thus far.
When we got the said camel underpass we turned off and went through a small village – it looked old, but may only have been 20 years or so. Some of the homes were the traditional Bedouin tents – complete with air-con and satellite dishes. It was poor – not slum – but obviously lacking the financial resources I have seen of the Qatari in Doha. It was explained to me that Qatar works on a tribal system. If you are related to the royal family then you are privileged, otherwise you live a semi nomadic rural life.
So we then go off piste. My friend from knitting, her husband, Ross, and four lovely boys along with another American family spread over two 4W drives scampering over desert rocks along the coast – the sea azure to my left.
Our first stop was the ‘movie set’; an open canyon with brick structures dotted around – I was curious as to who had built them and quite affronted that the landscape had been marred as it looked like it was abandoned – I was told tonight that the site is used frequently for Arabic soaps.
We made camp and I finally swam in properly in the Sea of Arabia – it was very salty, very rocky and not too cold – a happy Piscean was I. The sea bed was very rocky – I think reef shoes are a must – as the tide went out it was this that thwarted my second swim – bloody sharp rocks! There was food and drink and kites and knitting.
The sky was blue and I had the joy of watching the sunset over the sea, this one of my very very favourite things to do and which I normally only get to do in Perth. We left before the sun had fully set and had a lovely dusky ride back to Doha.
A good day!
I finally took some pics of Villagio. Note the Truman Show ceiling and the very tacky gondola – Venice it is not. I repeat – this place is Disneyland without the rides!
I’ve had a disappointment this week – I was told I had to do a visa run over my birthday weekend as my business visa expired. So I asked if I could pay the difference and go to Damascus – I planned to visit and spend my birthday wandering through the ancient city of Palmyra. Work said yes and so I fronted the Syrian embassy yesterday to be told that I had to get the visa from London or home as I am not a Qatari resident. So I then settled on three days in Dubai – did all the paperwork and handed it in to be told today that the Qatari Immigration Office renewed my visa and I get to go nowhere! I now plan to spend my birthday at a posh spa – steam rooms and massages!
I’ve had some interesting conversations this week on the life here. Horrific stories on the treatment migrant workers, amusing reflections on polygamy from a Tunisian woman at work and everyone is warning me how hot the summers are. I’m going on the ‘expect the worse and it can only get better’ approach to the proposed six month contract I’m vying for.
I have a new cat – Tweedle – he’s a cute 7 month old boy rescued from an archeological site in the north. He is shy and trills – he sounds like a canary. The cat group has become a surprisingly social avenue – car boot sale/ craft fair in Friday.
(There really is not a lot to do here!)
As I write this bombs are being dropped on demonstrators in Libya. Thoughts and prayers.