A couple of weeks ago we decided to take advantage of the break in the rain that had been intermittently pouring down in Riyadh, to get out of town and find a waterfall to picnic beside.
A video of a huge waterfall just outside the city had been posted on YouTube. Admittedly, the image looked more like a torrent of sand but it made me realise I had never considered there would be waterfalls near Riyadh after a decent rain. Lakes I knew about. But waterfalls? One doesn't tend to associate 'desert' with 'waterfall'.
We'd hired a Toyata Land Cruiser for our Tiki Tour which took us, first, to the growing town of Muzamiyah to assess Lake Kharara for signs of a waterfall (you can read about that at my post Lake Kharara Brings Sight Seers) and, finding lots of water but none falling, we headed to outback Nisah which, I'd heard, had taken a drenching with the rain.
It'd been a while since we'd come out this way and there's a huge amount of road works being done. Another sign of the money being spent on the country's infrastructure. Anyone who says the current government is keeping all the money for themselves obviously hasn't traveled much through Saudi. Almost every small town we've come across is having work done of some description.
Anyway, signs that a tonne of water had been flowing through the Nisah area were in abundance. Though only two days since the winter deluge, the water had started to dry up leaving dirty grey, slug looking trenches in its wake. And around each water filled gash were picnicking Saudi's. I would have got a snapshot, but Hubster wanted to keep moving.
Our Waterfall Mission took us past the red dunes and the Riyadh Cement Company. The cement plant looks like a fortress out of Lord of the Rings, rising tall and strong above barren desert cliffs. Obviously it would never pass as an evil fortress, there aren't enough sharp and pointy bits. Evilness always comes with sharp, pointy bits, I reckon.
I was busy telling The Husband about my theory on the housing choices of evil types, and he was busy not really listening, when we came across our little waterfall. "There it is", I hollered as he, in his own little world of 'Ignore Wifey and Her Ramblings', went zooming on by. Brakes were hit. A U-turn executed.
The Waterfall was just off the road and I was so darned excited! A stream was trickling it's way through a mish mash of hardened rock slabs and cascading down onto a weathered plate before wandering off into the rock strewn valley. While women were picnicking further downstream, a couple of young men had stripped to their underwear to play about in the water.
Of course, I didn't immediately get that they were in their underwear. There was no sign of sexy Calvin Klein boxers or colorful pouch fronted jockeys decorating the...ahhh, well, finer parts of finely chiseled, muscular, tanned torsos with a white stallion waiting impatiently in the wings, which is what one might find at an oasis waterfall when one lets their imagine run wild.
No, these blokes were in white T-shirts and long white pants, garments typically worn under thobes. And here was I, barreling over with camera in hand while they were calling out something akin to 'Nooooo!!!' Mid-stride it occurred to me something wasn't right. Then it clicked - they were bathing. Ooops! About face! Quick march the other way. A respectable distance was maintained till they had dressed themselves behind a nearby tree and Hubster gave the all clear along with a look that suggested there are times he thinks he married an idiot. What can I say, I have blond moments!
Clambering over a few rocks was required to reach the water spilling from the top. Oh, it was bliss taking my shoes off and splashing about in water that was still relatively cool despite the warmth of the day.
Not long after we arrived, numerous other vehicles began pulling up. Word had spread and having your photo taken atop a waterfall (even a small one) became a popular thing to do.
The Blokes weren't the least bit fazed by a barefoot, cap headed, abaya covered, barefoot, shin flashing Kiwi wahine paddling about in what we all knew was a temporary waterfall.
Eventually, the blokes made their way down to the base of the waterfall to take their own photo's and, after Hubster offered to take a couple of shots for them on their cameras, we headed back up to the car. It was time for lunch. Plus the waterfall had gotten busy. Families were starting to arrive. One young man came over to say hello. He'd been to Ireland to study English but was back and in need of practice, so took our presence has an opportunity to have a chat. He also said we could take a picture of his friend and the youngsters with him down by the water.
As the positioning of the sun had moved to "Lunchtime" we took our vehicle across country to find a picnic spot. Drinking mint tea and snacking on turkey, tomato and mayo baguettes out the back of a 4WD near a babbling stream was our idea of a perfect picnic lunch on another beautiful blue sky day in Saudi.
Our Waterfall Picnic mission had been a success and, as we ate, we contemplated the beauty of the desert, the simple pleasures that can enjoyed in this country that suffers a lot from bad raps, and our next move. After all, have Land Cruiser, will travel.