Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A desert is a place without expectation. -Nadine Gordimer

Post by: Beth

Yes, yes, I know.. it's been almost a month since my last post! Uncharacteristic for me, but in my defense I will say we've been busier this month than we've been our entire stay here in India. I do hope some of you are still reading, after my long absence.

To catch everyone up, I'm adding in some photos I couldn't leave out from our Dubai trip. We got the opportunity to go on a desert safari, which for Dubai, means riding over the dunes and through the desert in a 4X4 vehicle. The experience is a bit like a roller coaster.. just a lot longer and a bit more scary at times. The drivers are trained to do all of these daring stunts in the sand and on the edge of the sand cliffs. There's constant bumping and tossing around, often feeling like you're about to tip over, and much sliding sideways down the sides of the cliffs onto lower desert sands. After the "drive" (read: harrowing experience), which lasts about 45 minutes, you're taken to a large flat area of sand, where there's a BBQ, henna artist, camel riding, belly dancing, etc. I couldn't leave off the photos from this fun experience!

Above is a picture from our arrival to the desert, just before the drive. There are usually about 4-5 4X4's containing 6 passengers and 1 driver that start around the same time, and the drivers actually deflate the tires a bit prior to the drive -- This gives the tires less pressure and more surface area, allowing more ground contract and increased traction for better control.

Here's our driver, Abi, deflating our Land Cruiser's tires.

At some points along the way, the drivers stop so riders can get out and see the camels or the sunset, and the views of the deserts.

I'd never been in a desert before, and there's simply no way to capture by photo the expansiveness I experienced when stepping out onto the sand. There's just miles and miles and miles of sand as far as you can see. You feel so tiny standing in there as you look around and see nothing but sand and the sunset.

I'd really been excited after learning we'd get to ride on a camel after the drive! Of course, I had never been on a camel, either... I quickly claimed the spot of sitting on the "hump" of the camel, to be up higher. Raja got the less fortunate seat of the back, where it feels like you may fall off at various points during the ride.

We look all happy here, but I was a bit nervous.. Riding a camel is actually a pretty scary experience once the camel stands up off the ground and begins walking. Until the camel stands up fully, you don't realize just how high up the ground you're going to be (I began to quickly regret my selection of the "hump" seat), and there are 3-4 camels harnessed together in a line. The camel behind ours was rather aggressive and I kept worrying about what would happen when she decided to break away and run into the desert horizon, dragging our sweet camel with her. All was well, though, and it was pretty fun... a bit unnerving compared to the sheer excitement I'd felt earlier, but still a good experience. :)