This week I lost my stomach, somewhere out in the desert. Angie had friends visiting and asked me to join them for a trip to the Inland Sea. The Inland Sea is a vast lagoon by the Saudi border. I had visions of turbaned Bedouins and tasselled camels in a camp by the still waters.
It is a one-hour journey across the dunes as there is no road to the inland sea. I watched to catch of glimpse of swaying lines of camels. What I had not expected was that rather than camel and Bedouins, our journey would entail driving at death-defying speeds along tiny narrow precipices. My heart was in my mouth in minutes. But there was worse to come. We reached a massive dune, perched precariously at its peak. I innocently thought the five cars in our convoy had merely stopped for a photo opportunity, as the sight of all the lilac gold dunes and the sweeping winds was stunning. Ours was the last car to pull up, and as we did the first car just appeared to fall over the top of the world. I realised with horror we were about to go diving over vertical cliffs. A hundred-foot sand cliff, to be precise. We screamed. Suffice it to say, the seat in-front still bears the marks of my nails! Pure terror.
If that wasn’t bad enough, we went over at least ten dunes in similar sytle. It didn’t get any easier, as we braced and shrieked each time, praying to God this was the last dune. The most frightening were the ones that also necessitated taking hard ninety-degree swings half-way down the cliff side. This was not made any easier to endure when the car directly in front of us came within inches of rolling over and plunging off into an oasis. The poor French tourists in that car had such a fright that they demanded to be taken off the dunes and cut their trip short. I clung on so hard that for three days after I had a sore back and fingers.
After an hour of this plummeting and gasping for breath, we arrived at the desert camp. The pale-peony sun was fading into smoky clouds. We looked across the waters to the rocky cliffs of Saudi. The drivers brought around tiny sweet delicacies, as the tide of the Inland Sea lapped our feet. A feast of rice, dhal and Arabic dishes was set out on indigo and crimson carpets.
That was until the drivers switched on the ghetto blaster, Arabic hip hop at full dune-blast.