Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Day in the Sun

Yesterday was probably the best day we've had since moving to Qatar.

With the start of Eid (a three day holiday marking the end of Ramadan), we decided to get out of the house and explore a little. It started off with a plan to drive to the border of Saudi Arabia, just for a ride. Well, we got a little sidetracked...

We decided to head south instead of west and passed through the town of Messaeid. Then I saw the signs to a beach resort and wanted to head that way just to look. Although Qatar is a peninsula, surrounded by the waters of the Persian Gulf, there are surprisingly few beaches. On our way to the resort, we came upon some of Qatar's famed sand dunes. We could see there were several places to rent quad bikes. We decided we'd come back in a few weeks when it's a little cooler and give it a shot.

The we saw a dune that had only a few people on it, with no bikes. The kids asked to get out and climb the dune and Hubby happily obliged. So we pulled off and drove up to the dune and all piled out. We climbed up and down, the wind whipping sand in our faces, but still it was exhilarating. Finally we decided to move on and got back in the car.

As we went to leave, our wheels spun and spun, digging us farther into the sand. Just as panic was about to set in, someone on a dune bike pulled up to help. This young Qatari man (just turned 18) and his friends spent well over an hour trying to pull us out. They had a tow rope, which promptly broke after a few pulls. We were in deep, people.

A couple of the boys set off to buy a new rope and Hubby had a chance to talk to the first young man, who stayed with us. They had a good conversation while the kids and I played on the dunes some more. Finally they came back with a stronger tow line and managed to pull free my poor little Tahoe.

Then the first guy offered us all rides on his quad bike. Emily went first and loved it! Daniel went and, well, he had fun, but I think he was a little scared. Ibrahim went and had a great time. Me? Well, I didn't think it was culturally appropriate for a married woman to get on the back of a bike with a Muslim man and wrap my arms and legs around him, so I passed. But we are going back soon to give it a try for ourselves.

Lessons learned:

1) There's lots of fun to be had if we just get out of the house.

2) Park only in approved areas! There were other cars parked up by the dune, but they either had 4 wheel drive or had let air out of their tires to improve their traction.

3) And the most important lesson we learned is that Qataris aren't all rude, mean people. I think that many Westerners have a negative impression of Qataris and that's often justified. They drive like maniacs, they cut in front of you in line, and they can just be very dismissive. But we will never forget the kindness of those young Qatari boys who spent a good portion of their holiday, not to mention the money for a new tow rope, just to help out a family they didn't know at all. We talked quite a bit on the way home about how we will never speak badly of Qataris again.

It was a great day!


Catherine said...

Sounds like fun!


Nancy M. said...

That's awesome! You went out and had some fun and learned some things. Glad y'all had a great time!

melissa said...

What a great day! I bet those young men that helped you also dismissed of few of their stereotypes as well. It's things like this that show us we are not really all that different when it comes right down to it.

ValleyGirl said...

And stereotype-crushing fun was had by all! Sounds like a great day!

stacey said...

glad you found the good guys! and enjoyed a day with the family!


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