In case you haven’t ever lived in the Middle East, or accidentally had to leave the airport whilst transiting somewhere in the summer, or made the terrible mistake of coming on holiday during July and August, or you haven’t read all of my blogs. It gets quite hot here.
I mean really, really hot. The thing that always gets me is burning your elbow on the inside of the glass when you are driving. WTF? How is that a thing? It catches me by surprise and I squeal like a little girl every time it happens. But somehow as we head into the middle of our third summer here, I seem to be getting used to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Prince Andrew – I sweat with the best of them, sometimes I worry that my skin is leaking so fast that I may actually reduce down into some sort of hideous paste. But since being here for a couple of summers I have started to work out how to survive, I now can be outside for large parts of the day in July so long as I don’t have to do anything. Obviously, if I have to make even the slightest movement then I am completely saturated in an instant, but I can survive.
Sadly I am not very good at standing still.
Last week was quite a good example of where standing still might have been less sweaty. I booked a 4WD training day for myself and 2 goons (Derrick was going to join but he got a splinter and had to stay at home) to get into the sand with a proper professional and to learn about getting stuck and how to get out. For anyone who has been to Qatar, you will know finding experts at anything, that are genuine actual experts, rather than total charlatans is really quite hard. Through Instagram I found the Desert driving ninja that is Khaled Shash from 4WDTraining, and what an expert he is.
Khaled met us in Sealine as the sun was rising over the dunes and took us immediately to “The Bush” this is the largest bush in the whole of the Qatari desert and is a perfect spot for getting very stuck as the sand is liquidly soft, it also makes for great pictures. Before we knew it we had 3 cars deep into the sand in 50 degrees heat and it was at that stage that we realised digging was Khaled’s preferred method of removing a bogged Pajero. When you are a chiseled athlete like myself the prospect of digging a car out of the sand is intimidating enough, but when the mercury is busting past 50 degrees this challenge suddenly becomes quite horrific.
But this was a driving course (I made a little video about it), and before we knew it we had each been taught how to use our 4 wheel drive properly, how to use the tyres, how to use the gearbox (4H on a Pajero is not proper 4WD, it is actually AWD!!! Who knew??), how to use diff locks and how to find the smallest amounts of traction to crawl ourselves out of the impassable sand bog. No screaming engines, no violent metal ripping snatch straps, no pushing, we didn’t even dig. Slow tiny movements, under control, and with the softest tyres you can imagine each of our little Pajeros clambered out of the bowl and onto hard ground. It was something of an epiphany. Don’t get me wrong plucking your mates out on the end of a snatch strap will always be fun, but for really cool steady driving out of situations you just have to hold your head and let the car do all the work for you.
It was still insanely hot though, and before we knew it a long drive with AC blasting was the only way to recover. Thank God for my fridge and freezing cold drinks.