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  • Shelley Dark

#18 from desert to mountains

We slept very well in our desert tent, dreaming of Lawrence of Arabia or breakfast, and were up early to take a few photographs before the sun was too high.

Overnight all footprints had been erased as if they'd never been there, and little rills had been reformed in the sand.

Guests had an included option of going for a camel ride after breakfast. The Bedouin tannaf (camel driver) had arrived early and his camels were saddled, sitting patiently. Doesn't she look just so pretty and agreeable? She couldn't fool me. I went on a (wide) camel ride in Morocco and was nearly split from stem to stern as I slipped further and further down the rump. I knew from that experience that I'd rather poke myself in the eye with a stick. But they're such beautiful subjects for photography.

Oh what big teeth you have!

Their keeper had pretty nice teeth too! He was sitting in the full sun, waiting patiently, his scarf casually draped over his head.

His goodies were spread out on his rug. Water, pencil, money, phone, sandals. The essentials.

We had our breakfast outside the dining room in the shade.

Our omelette was cooked by our Sri Lankan chef.

Ali was ready for us, looking smart in his white dishdasha. Men take 5 or 6 to the laundry at a time and they cost .2 rial each - Ali says you need to choose your laundry well to make sure your whites stay white. Usually it's next door to barber and coffee shop so while they're there they often have their beard trimmed.

Such a sensible choice for a potted plant in the desert.

Luggage loaded, we set off for Bideyah en route to a Bedouin camp. I like the soft ride on the sand as the vehicle gently skids from side to side.

Ali screeched to a halt (in a manner of speaking) so we could take the camels.

When we got out, one of the smallest local workers was out on the job already. A dung beetle, carrying a piece of poo bigger than himself, rolling it over and over. What a work ethic!

Bye bye Desert Nights. It's been great.

The house we were to visit was once the main house of this Bedouin family, but these days most Bedouins have a house in town and one out in the dunes for weekends and family gatherings. A bit like our beach weekenders without the swimming. The desert is regulated though and you can't just do what you want. There are water tanks at intervals through the dunes, and Bedouins take it in turns to fill them with their pickup trucks.

Ali wanted to stop in Bideyah to buy fuel. As this car pulled up at the bowser beside us, I waved. I don't know if it's clear but father and son both are both giving me the thumbs up.

I indicated the big camera, and they both nodded. I think this portrait is probably my favourite of the trip so far. He has such a kind, confident, steady, composed look.

Dad wasn't bad either, but not quite as sure even after his thumbs-up.

As we drove away, we came to a street corner where the local green feed sale was happening. Men were buying and selling cut lucerne out of their cars and trucks.

We stopped to photograph this man, his wares in front of him. He's been out early to cut this load. No expensive rents for him.

He spotted us and bounded over, hand out for a modelling fee. He was such an endearingly roguish fellow that we paid him happily. Ali said 'You've just paid him five times what he charges for his lucerne. You should have collected it.'

We left Bidiyah on our way to the Bedouin settlement. Their town houses were strung along the track we took. The scenery soon turned to red sand again.

Ali drove half way up one of the dunes, and we walked up the rest of the way. At the top, we could see more dunes.

Isn't the swirling sand beautiful? Wire enclosures for camels and goats were positioned uphill from the houses.

Nothing is wasted here. Everything is used to keep the roof on or hold it up. The goats were interested to see what we wanted.