Husband and I decided on a splurge during our visit to Abu Dhabi – a splurge underwritten by some research monies he has for an article he’s working on (seriously! About Arabian Sands, a book written by an Englishman who wanted to map the part of the Arabian Desert known as Rub Al Khali, or The Empty Quarter. This section of desert is shared by Saudi, UAE, Yemen, and Oman, and is larger than France, Netherlands, and Belgium put together. It has more sand than the Sahara, even though in square miles Rub Al Kali is smaller. More important than any of those facts? It’s stunningly beautiful. Gobsmackingly, jaw-droppingly, did-you-see-that beautiful).
Underwriting—or as we like to call it, corporate sponsorship—firmly in place, we made a reservation at Qasr Al Sarab. We reserved a car service to drive us out there—it’s about two hours outside of Abu Dhabi city, and neither of us are equipped, legally or psychically, to drive in the UAE. First surprise: when you reserve “a car” in New York, you get some version of an over-scented Lincoln Town Car. Here? We got a beat-up Toyota station wagon with anemic air conditioning. We also got an upclose and personal introduction to highway driving, Arab style: drivers pass one another whenever they want, wherever they want, with a simple flash of headlights to indicate their intentions. The vehicle in front slides over to the right (without slowing down), the driver behind speeds up into the lane of oncoming traffic (regardless of traffic in other lane), goes around the too-slow vehicle in front, and then slips back into the correct lane. I stopped watching after a while because I didn’t want my panicky gasps to distract the driver and get us all killed before we arrived at the resort.
Wait. “Resort” is TOTALLY the wrong word for where we arrived after our death-defying desert drive.
We arrived at…time out of mind? A place out of time? The corporeal equivalent to you-have-been-reborn-as-Brangelina? Continue Reading →