Last weekend saw 5 dads, 5 4×4’s, 9 kids and a dog properly take to the sand for the first time since the new normal came along to ruin our year. We escaped.
Escaped the routine of city life, escaped the monotony that f’wit Corona has created and escaped to breathe fresh air, enjoy the wild and let our children run amok free from rules for a weekend camping.
We left after work on a Thursday which is a bit like trying to pack when you are late for a flight, mild levels of panic creep in and a good dose of sweating and swearing seems to be the only way anyone could pack in time to be off the blacktop with enough time to make camp before dark. (None of us have floodlights, and finding camp in the dark just doesn’t sound fun when you have children in tow, despite the beautiful sunset) But it wasn’t long before a fire was lit, beers cracked and a BBQ was spitting away for kids tea, the rest of the night slipped away into happy routine.
The sand dunes of Qatar are surrounded by the sea, which normally minds its own business and stays over on its side of the beach and isn’t something you have to consider very much. Sort of like that mate we all have that doesn’t get wasted on a big night out, safe, reliable and always a pleasure to have about. The Qatari sea is a bit like that.
Except when it isn’t.
Last weekend saw something I haven’t come across and it took the form of an extraordinarily high tide. Normal routes were closed, normally hard packed sand was soft and sticky, and there seemed to be vast lakes of standing sea water in every direction as you cleared the top of any dune. It was beautiful, it made for an incredible sunset and it made for some particular exciting driving conditions.
We drove for just over 120km off road last weekend, much of it was spent picking our way around the bays and coves now filled with car sucking sea water. In one notable pant wetting moment I found myself running out of flat sand as the water ran itself high up a very steep dune. Before I knew what was happening we were on an almost impossible angle to our right and sea water was gushing over the bonnet and up the windscreen. It won’t surprise anyone to know I do not have any experience of fording rivers (we don’t have any in Qatar) I have never driven in the sea (It rots the car) and so this was a very surreal and terrifying moment.
It got worse – The car, my fabulous friend and reliable wagon cut out. The engine stopped and every light on the dashboard flashed a new alarming colour of red or orange. Shit. This was a knee trembler like no other, I had to decide to either abandon the children and fend for myself (I considered this to be the best option) or try and get the car out of this ridiculous mess. The radio sparked into life with that prick Derrick who was a safe distance behind some watching and laughing at me “Fair dinkum Cobber you’ve got yourself in a right strewth there mate” or something helpful like that. Archie started to cry, Jack fell asleep and the dog threw up all over the back seat, again.
If you have ever held onto the seat of a car by your bum cheeks you will appreciate it to be quite an unrelaxing pose, and it doesn’t lend itself to rational thought. So it took longer than I would have liked to realise I should simply try and restart the car rather than flail around wildly pushing buttons and pulling levers, as it was likely to have simply been a safety mechanism shutting itself down to prevent cracking my pistons. Sure enough, the little Paj sparked into life, bubbling away half-submerged beneath the water and after some highly skilled burying of my right foot, we fired out of the water like a cork onto harder ground.
The remainder of our journey back to the tarmac was uneventful but very alone, as we were rightly abandoned by our team in favour of a safer less idiotic route.
Well, at least I didn’t bend my wheel rims jumping off a sand dune. But that’s another story….
In other news I got a new hat, which I love, so you’ll be seeing some more of it.