Saudi Hospitality unsurpassedApril 9, 2020 in Saudi Arabia ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C
The evening we decided to leave the next day in search of our safe haven, we prepared for an early start the next morning before going to bed.
Just when I turned off my light to go to sleep a car pulled up and honked the horn. Until I got up and put on my abaya Olli met the driver and the discussions started with help of Google translate. Our visitor wanted us to leave immediately, did not really have a suggestion where we should go and we did not see a reason for leaving. A lot of mis- or non-understandings followed, and about ½ hour later he drove off.
Back to bed and trying to sleep.
This pleasure did not last very long as several cars pulled up, police and some robed civilians got out and the discussions started again. We were not allowed to be outside during the curfew, we have to go to a hotel, that we sleep in our cars was no accepted reason for staying, and on it went. This time we could not talk our way out of it, so we gave in when they offered us to stay in our cars in front of the local police station.
So getting the car ready, putting in table and chair, stepping on my abaya, losing the headscarf, really testing my patience at that time of day but finally we took off in a convoy to the police station.
Once arrived there the chief of police was visible relieved that he had us transferred to a “safe” location, showed us the facilities, the kitchen, toilet and gave us the complimentary box of water bottles your are handed in this country wherever you go and you can’t say no to.
Back to bed. But there is one more knock on my door: it is Olli, bringing fabulous news: they had asked a Saudi family they had met for a very short time only and asked if they knew some accommodation we could possibly use. 10mins later they received the answer: we can use their holiday residence in Al Baha for as long as we need. What an incredible relief!!! And exactly where we wanted to go to as it is nice and cool up in the mountains.
Up early the next day the plan was to get to Yanbu, do a big grocery shop and then look for some place to stay for the night.
Once in Yanbu I hit the grocery store, long queues in front, waiting, then donning on gloves and face mask some measurement of my body temperature and I am let into the supermarket. I am about to pack up my trolley as I receive a message from Dagmar and Olli that travel ban will be imposed between the different regions of the country from tomorrow on. As we still have to pass through several provinces, I leave my trolley where it is and we rush out of town immediately. We want to travel as far as we can before the curfew 1900hrs.
Once it is time to set up camp for the night, we directly drive to the police station and ask for asylum. No probs, over there in front of the school we can stay. Its not a pretty spot, but we are happy to have found a spot where we will not be disturbed after the long day of driving. We did not count on the lack of hand-over information at shift change at the police station, so sure enough, as soon as we were in bed, a knock on my door and the discussions started again. But after some to and fro we were left to our sleep.
And then, after a long pass from 700m up to 2200m and me fearing Lola’s heat sensitivities, we made it to our holiday residence in Al Baha without much of a problem. And want a surprise this is: a huge house, we can use the ground floor with 3 bathrooms, kitchen, washing machine, a huge garden with trees, not a common thing in this country, and extra little house in the garden, with toilet and carpeted sitting area. What luxury!!! And after the humid heat down at the ocean, we are sitting here in the evenings with socks and jumpers! Wonderful!
The next day Diddi and Daniela, another German couple that travelled through Africa joined us as well. Now we are complete.
Finally, after all the frantic activity of the last few days we have the opportunity to clean and repair the cars, to the washing, sort out stuff and, at least we thought, to rest.
Until our peace was rudely interrupted by an email from the Saudi tourist office that we should leave our contact details should an evacuation be necessary.
Lots of discussion ensued: if we fly out what will happen to our vehicles? Letters were drafted and sent to consulates to find out the legalities.
For me the situation is different from that of the Germans: after a lot of enquiry I found out I cannot fly Rex to Australia from Saudi. He will need to fly from another country, but before I can arrange for this, blood needs to be taken for a Rabies titer test, after which we will need to wait for 180 days before I can fly him into Australia. Next option, Germany. No, I cannot fly into Germany as I am neither German nor have a residency status. And Rex by himself, and then after 180 days to Oz? No, flights don’t take any dogs. So, that’s it for me, I will stick it out here in Saudi until some borders open… somewhere.
In the meantime, we are touchingly cared for. The hospitality and generosity of the Saudis is extraordinary. They do anything in their might to make you feel welcome and happy
Every morning the gardener provides us with bread and dip and we had to fight hard and gently for him not to bring us some more food goodies, as we really don’t want to stretch the hospitality. Two days ago, a local member of the family surprised us with masses of fruit and vegetables - in addition of the fruit and vegetable we can just pick here in the garden. Health workers were asked by the family to visit and check on our health and providing us with masks and gloves.
By now the curfew has increased starting at 1500hrs. poor Rex, lucky Elisabeth, only one walk a day from now on!
None of us want to leave at this stage, but one day we will have to pack up and go.Read more