Sunday 10 March 2013

Downs and dunes

Thursday was possibly one of the most boring days I've ever had. I dropped the kids at school, I did washing, I put things away, I swept, I picked the kids up. They bickered, I yelled. I made dinner. Just as I was climbing into bed, before Skip was even home from his work function, I realised that I hadn't spoken to a single adult all day, except for a couple of minutes with Clint that morning. I felt really isolated and alone. I had one of those moments of "Why are we here? Is it worth it?"

Friday arrived and we excitedly packed up the car for a camping trip that we'd been invited on with some of Skip's work colleagues. The group met up and we poured over the books to decide where to head off to. I sighed a sigh of relief that the group seemed to be a good bunch of people.

We'd been fed, the cars were fueled and we headed off for some fun. Before long we'd turned off the main road onto a sandy track, the kids squealing with delight in the back. As we drove further the sand became softer and the dunes became higher. We drove up a dune and discovered another group of adventurers stuck in the sand on the other side. They were happily digging themselves out, one car had gone up and over a steep dune coming to an almost vertical stop on the other side, its bull bar and front grill dug into the sand. So we reversed and went off on search on an alternate route past them.

We flew through the dunes, before our car became bogged right at the soft top ridge of a high dune. The boys dug and pushed and got their own cars stuck. The kids busied themselves by sliding down the dunes on pieces of cardboard. After a while, all three cars we free and we were off again. "Now that was fun," Skip said grinning.

After a short while we found a clump of ghaf trees and a herd of goats feeding under them. A strange sight after the endless orange dunes. Skip and I were buzzing from the fun of the drive, the amazing scenery and surprises at every turn.

The kids scared off the goats and we went on to search for a place to put up the tents. We turned through a bend and found ourself in a pretty little valley with another clump of ghaf trees. Perfection. We pulled up, threw up the tents and went exploring.

That evening, we huddled round the campfire, eating and telling stories, the dark sky sprinkled with stars. Everyone was getting along fantastically. The kids roasted marshmallows and were happy sitting in the sand inside of being tucked up in bed. As we were chatting away we saw a light on top of the dune and some strange shadows. As the shadows got closer, we realised that it was a man wearing traditional robes guiding two camels. He stopped near our campsite and showed the kids his camels. It was just the most amazing moment, realising that there was nowhere else we could be but the Middle East.

The next morning, the girls raced up and down the dunes as everyone else tried to sleep. As the rest of the group emerged from their tents, breakfast was eaten and we set off amongst the dunes again. We were driving along when Goosey cried out "Camels!" And sure enough there were a group of five camels not far from our car. A bit further along, we found a man herding a big group of camels back to a farm. The curious beasts looked in the car window to a row a blue-eyed kids staring agog. We followed the camels along the track until it was time to turn onto the main road and head home.

Back among the cars and trucks, I was missing the sandy trails, especially when a car overtook us as we overtook a truck. Heart stopping.

Home and exhausted and orange sand in every pore and crevice, we were happy. Some Dubai days are dull and lonely and monotonous. Some days are frustrating and ridiculous. And then some days are pure magic, so surreal and beautiful you can't believe you're actually there, that this is your life. Some days you feel like your living something out of a book or documentary, but then you actually feel the sand between your toes and see just how soft a camel's coat can be and it's so much better than it is in a book or a TV screen. You find yourself in the dark chatting to someone who's walking through the dunes with a couple of camels. That was the moment when I answered my own questions from the night before. This is why we're here. And yes, it's most definitely worth it.

What you can't see in this picture is we're at the stop of a very steep dune...
Kids busied themselves while we recovered the vehicles.
The magic campsite. Truly a beautiful spot. 

Exploring the dunes in the cool of the early morning.

Sledding the dunes.

Spot the camel.

Driving with camels, kind of like dancing with wolves.
The camels actually look kind of cuddly!


  1. This is amazing, like a dream! Thanks for sharing :-)

  2. Wow Corinne.
    Just wow.
    Talk about an are definitely lucky to have this opportunity!

  3. Eleanor stole my comment - all I have to say is WOW! Those trees look like a pen and ink version of a Dr Seuss tree, and now I wanna cuddle a camel!

    Lucky you!

    1. Very lucky! And yes, you're write about the Dr Seuss Trees! x

  4. You write so well. I was completely lost in that story, in the dunes with you. That looked fantastic!
    Those days you don't speak to other adults are tough, I have a few too many of them myself. The only solution I think is to escape the house (not often possible here though, with baby/toddler naps) get out in the hustle and bustle and listen to other peoples noise.

  5. All I could think was ...... WOW too!

  6. Oh wow, those photographs!!! Jealous. You seem to find the best bits of the desert, I am going to have to quiz you on your camping locations!

  7. What an absolutely amazing place. I cant even begin to imagine how incredible it is to experience in person and so completely different from Oz. xx


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