Posts in Adventure

We got lost

We went to the desert, company of friends is invited us for a short hike and bbq after sunset. We missed the hike, the sundown too.

We got lost. So what?

Mandatory selfie session with my friend Samah

I got to see the camels again! I can honestly say with certainty that I have been training my previously completely unformed muscle for patience in the past few months. Yesterday my friends from home would have been in awe of it in all its pumped up glory. In Saudi Arabia, correction – in the Arab world – you can’t count on things going according to plan.

Yes, you can pack everything you need, from tea in a thermos to wet wipes. But then you just can’t lose your temper, when you first find yourself in a car sitting for an hour in front of the mall because you are waiting for everyone to get together and only after that you may follow the convoy of cars. Then you stop for gas (why not beforehand, don’t ask), and of course you stay behind, but with the location saved to GPS. Haha. Good one. GPS in the desert likes to mess around.

At the camel farm

We reached the rest of the group after dark. There would be no glamorous desert photos, I took the beautiful blue scarf in vain. It’s fine, the camels were supermodels of the day, they couldn’t be outdone. After dinner on the carpets we listened to music. Sudanese and Egyptian, according to the national representation of our group.

Somewhere in the desert

I also got a musical pick. I don’t know why, but in that moment and atmosphere, I could only come up with Bijelo Dugme (Yugoslav rock band). Among the rocky hills of the Saudi desert, Đurđevdan resonated probably for the first time, and I could barely hold back my tears. Then I chose another Slovenian song. Which one, I’ll write in one of the future letters, because there’s a special separate story to it.

Al Taif. Again

A week later and I find myself missing Taif. We both are. Missing the cooler weather, the nature and that indescribable “we’re out of town having a small adventure” kind of a feeling.

I definitely miss having fun with my outfits and not worrying I’ll sweat too much, and that could be visible through the fabric. One might notice I don’t care for black abayas all the time. I LOVE colors and it shows.

At the Bird park in Taif

I miss interacting with animals, birds in particular. A friend has a pet bird back home and I loved teaching it bad words sometime. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Seeing the camels out and about was also a special experience. So serene seeing them move in their slow pace in front of their shepherd. And the monkeys alongside the road. And packs of wild dogs, those were a sight to see.

What I won’t miss is even crazier traffic if you can believe it. Jeddah drivers? Almost angelic compared to Taif maniacs behind the wheel. So everything has it’s pros and cons. We are back in Jeddah now. Already planning a new weekend trip in a few weeks. Can hardly wait!

Trip to Taif

Those who know me, can tell you, patience is really not one of my virtues. That’s why I surprise even myself sometimes, when I pull it out of I don’t have a clue where. It’s completely outside my box.

Closest friends know how to turn my pis*yness into a joke, and I know how to make fun of myself by now as well. But with new experience I’ve come to realize, I will have to tone it down a bit, my quick reactions. Not just because of other people, but for my sake as well.

So why all this about my (im)patience?

Last weekend we went to Taif on a trip. It’s a smaller city, a little over 2 hours away. Because I enjoy planning and organizing, I threw myself with delight into research on where we might go and which places we would see, and I asked him to make a hotel reservation. I asked him two or three times. And his (Arab/Sudanese) logic in response was completely ludacris to me:

“I’ll google it when we come there. It will give better results.”
“Whaaat? Are you serious? No, no. Please, search for 3 backups for where we can spend the night. Just in case,” I continued bothering him, but at some point stopped and let go.

I don’t think he realizes, how much strength I have to gather each time, to release this stiff, inherited from my mother, “I have to have everything under control” tendency, and I head in a completely opposite direction, which is “go with the flow.”

Friday morning we were good and ready to go around 6 am; suitcase was packed the evening before, the bag with drinking water and snacks too, even a thermos with fresh tea for the road. The drive there was nice, comfortable. GPS lead us to the mountains around Makkah on a longer route for some reason, but we managed to enjoy our time and talk the entire way, after all, we were finally going on a trip outside of Jeddah.

On our way to Taif

In Taif our virtual guide decided, we needed some extra spice on top of our adventure. I planned and bookmarked all the stops on our map, but there was obviously enough time on our schedule to test my patience as well.
Strange paths, long way around and off road even, at some point we ended up in a muddy hollow, where a few cars were parked.

People, mostly families, were resting under the trees. I started telling myself in a familiar sarcastic tone, how all these people must have been looking for the funicular, same as us, but they ended up here, thanks to uncle Google, and gave up.

But something in me clicked in that moment, when I saw, that he was losing his patience for a change. That his otherwise easy going character was being tested. Obviously I am able to gather up enough sense, so I don’t make matters worse in these kind of situations. So we can find our way out of muddy hollows together and reach our destination in the end.

View from the cable car (Telefric Al Hada)

Search for the accommodation took some time as well. And I let it be. What would I achieve with my vexing? In the evening we went to a restaurant, which he found online. “It’s supposed to be good, popular.”

Oh, it was popular alright. We waited 30 minutes in line at the reception for a table, where they seemingly forgot all about social distancing. In general, we had a feeling that Taif locals took this pesky corona thingy very lightly. So, we got our table. I was worried then about the prices in such a popular place with a very attractive ambiance. Comparing to Jeddah standards I was really concerned. He said, I shouldn’t be. It was our anniversary. I guess it pays off not to be cranky and negative sometimes, because dinner turned out great, and the bill was a complete surprise. A positive one, of course. For similar service they would bleed us dry in Jeddah. In Taif we dined like kings.

It was a wonderful trip. I wish for more weekends like this one, especially now that I’ve discovered a new superpower: patience.

Happy up above in the cable car

Al Taif

I was very at ease in Taif. There was no bad mood on account of the hot weather. We almost didn’t turn on the AC in our hotel room, whereas in Jeddah I need to have it running at (compromising) 25°C even at night. The weather was just wonderful this weekend!

Midday picnic in a shade

Not only the temperatures, the nature is also very different higher behind the mountains. More greenery in the city and outside of it, in their so called national park.

But the trash … Oh dear.
There’s still so much to do for preservation of your nature, dear kingdom. Still so much to invest in educating your people. What good is it to have a villa above the city if you throw all your damn trash down the hill, basically right outside your door.

Nonetheless we returned to Jeddah filled with good memories.

We were most impressed by the scenery, which we could enjoy from our car already, alongside the famous road going up the mountains. Then we were sitting in a shade under a tree in the national park, having a snack and listening to birds songs. Like a true village boy he had to climb the tree of course and sitting up there he was telling me, how much better life is in the country. Myself, sitting on the carpet underneath him, I was insisting of course (as every time before), that Ljubljana is not your typical capital, a concrete jungle. I always say, we must visit it together soon, and then he will see and understand, why I miss home so much.

We headed to town before noon, and on our way there we saw camels, like a few instances before that day. We were able to make a safe stop on the side of the road and we managed to come closer to the herd, far enough not to disturb them.

Beautiful creature

I’ve seen a camel (as most people) in a zoo before, I even rode one in Egypt. But the sight of these marvelous camelids, mulling shrubbery on their way, moving slowly towards “home,” left me standing still, silent in admiration. Not far behind we saw their shepherd following their path.

We only spent one weekend in Taif, yet it feels as if we were there for a week or so, because we made so many nice memories. Too many adventures for just one letter. So let there be more stories from Taif in the upcoming days.

Baboons in Taif mountains