Ann and Roger Bould were recently in the oil-rich kingdom on the Persian Gulf. Here is the third instalment of their adventures. (For Parts 1, 2 and 3, see August 16, 17 and 18.)
They are in the desert watching falcons – see the end of Part 3.
Interesting details about falcons
When it’s outside and sitting on the falconer’s arm, he has to give it a spray from a water bottle now and then, to keep it cool.
Falcons like food (don’t we all?) and once the falconer took the hood off this one’s head and it flew off, he swung a lure around to attract it back and give it a target to aim for.
The falcon had a couple of good strikes at high speed, then must have spotted something more edible out in the desert because it went AWOL and didn’t come back.
That was $3,000 worth of bird out there somewhere. Fortunately the falcon was equipped with GPS (honestly – we saw the aerial tucked under its feathers), so they could find it before it got too hot.
The careful ride through the desert
Just as we were leaving, we were flagged down by the tour controller. A loud discussion in Arabic followed between the controller and our driver. I don’t understand Arabic but I’ve heard “wahid” before.
It ended fairly placidly, and as we drove off, the driver commented that they’d tracked him doing 41 kilometres per hour somewhere out there in the desert, and this was his warning. Top speed out there is 40K. 41 isn’t an option.
If one of the vehicles exceeds this, the whole team could get suspended for a while. And If a native animal runs in front of the vehicle and gets run over and the vehicle was doing 41, the news is really bad. So you can imagine there’s plenty of talk on the radio telephone.
We passed the falconer’s 4WD about half a kilometre away. He was out retrieving his bird and giving it a feed and a spray while we continued out into the desert.
Tent city: food and entertainment
By this time we were totally lost in the ever changing hills, so the driver set up his own GPS and after a short photo stop at sunset we arrived at the little tent city where we were to have our meal and entertainment.
The meal was good. Trouble was, they gave us an appetiser first, and guess what?
I’d lost my appetite by the time the BBQ food appeared. Ann reckoned the appetiser was better than the main, anyway.
Very fit and skilful belly dancer
She must have been supremely fit, because her dancing was full on. She did four sets at full speed, pausing for about two minutes in between to have a drink of water and a bit of a wipe down.
Her footwork was impressive – if you were looking at her feet. I think she’d have been an outstanding footballer if she wanted to.
They turned the lights out at the end so we could see the stars. And they’d sneaked a couple of 4WD’s up to the highest dunes and parked them so their headlights shone up the dunes to give us another photo op. Looked good.
Ride back to the hotel at night
At the check in gate, we were waved through by the gatekeepers, none of whom seemed to have a clip board. So much for safety. Pumped up the tyres and off home.
It was a good night. Next day we flew to Rome.