Friday, 16 March 2012

In Search of a Cave Near Riyadh

One day, we went in search of a cave, just outside Riyadh.

While surfing the net two years ago for 'Things to do in Riyadh' I came across mention of the cave.  What was most enthralling about the piece was the idea of scuba diving in the cave.  That was two years ago.  This winter, it was time to go find the cave.

Talking Hubster into this little adventure wasn't easy, mostly because he was doubtful such a thing could be done.  'Trust me', I said.

The Yukon was hired, a map with sketchy details was printed and off we set.

We discovered, on this jaunt, that the highway through the Industrial Center comes to a rapid and joltingly rough end if you miss the turn off to the Al Kharj Highway - a definite possibility if you don't read the red sign in Arabic that I'm presuming says,  "ROAD ENDS".

At least three vehicles ahead of us didn't, or couldn't, read the sign either, because they found the end of the road before we did.  I did wonder what the "'TAT, TAT, TAT, THAAT, TAT" sound was ahead of us until our Yukon hit the king sized Botts Dots spread out over the road.   Re-positioning in the seat was required because The End had been hit at rather high speeds.  A quick U-turn later and we were back on track keeping an eye out for Al Heet, reputed location of the cave.  It wasn't that far away.

Take the off-ramp and turn left. 

'Where next' says Hubby.
'Weeellll, hmmmm. It looks like we go straight ahead'.
Hubster gave me that, 'you have no idea', look.
I gave him my, 'is that a problem', eyebrow raised over my sunglasses gaze.

He sighed.
We went straight ahead.
We drove around.
We found a village.
We came back out and drove around some more.
We found a rubbish tip.
We found a cricket ground (read about that on this blog Know your cricket in KSA)
We found a railway line and some goats.

We went back to the main turn off and headed south.
We took a road that headed toward the hills because the cave, said my Google search, is located at the foot of the hills.

We didn't find a cave.

We did find a nice tree to sit under while we contemplated the cave location.  Our picnic lunch, Arabic rug, fold up chairs and thermos were unpacked from the vehicle, for what is contemplation without sustainence?

Another vehicle drives up to our tree. 
'Can we join you'? hails the male at the wheel.
'Sure you can', we say.

So we spent the rest of the afternoon with a lovely family from Palestine.  They had never heard of a cave here. The husband spoke good English.  My Arabic was called into play so his wife, kids and I could communicate in a combination of Pigeon English-Arabic.  After all this time and effort my Arabic language skills are still relatively dismal. 

The kids had brought a bike and were sent in search of firewood, which they towed along behind the bike.  Or carried on the handlebars.


It was nice having lunch in the desert, near a tree, beside a fire with kids laughter ringing out.  The cave, we decided, could wait.  Meeting new friends is a pleasant way to while away the hours.

As the sun was reaching into the late afternoon we had to pack up our picnic and head back to a prior appointment, but the Cave of Ain Heet, I promised Hubster, was not going to beat us.

Hubster was not very interested.  He was feeling a little unwell, he said.  Considering how quickly he went downhill, me thinks he was understating his condition.  He got worse on the drive home.  So bad in fact that he was turning very pale and shaking while gripping the wheel.  Every now and then he'd stop and rest his head on the steering wheel and look like he was about to clap out.

Numerous times I said, 'Let me drive'.
'No, I'll be ok,  I'll get home.  Just tell me which way to go cos I can't read the signs'.
Well, that's comforting to know!

He was also  having difficulty making out the distance between us and the cars in front and had to be told to brake and when to move forward.  Our pace, as you can imagine, was rather slow.

'Let Me Drive!'
'I have my disguise'  (You have a disguise, Gae? Yes, of course!  What expat woman who likes to drive in Saudi doesn't have one?)

In my bag are a range of fake moustaches which are, as yet, untested in a 'meet the police' situation.

Some friends find them hysterical.  One thinks use of such subterfuge tactics will only land me in serious trouble.

If I ever do use them, which to date hasn't been required because with the sunny's, a cap and a T-shirt I look like a Filipino driver anyway, putting the thing on straight would be a good plan.

And not laughing!

Hubster, the stubborn buggar, would not relinquish the wheel.  (It is possible the idea of my using the disguise disturbs him).

It is probably just as well we didn't find the cave this day.  Being stuck in a cave with a stubborn sick husband is not my idea of a good time!  Once home, he headed straight to bed.  Going in search of a cave outside of Riyadh was going to have to wait till another day.

Ka Kite,

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