Thai version

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Coke is outlawed in Saudi Arabia

I head down the cat trail to the Red Sea. The red dust from the road goes through everything since you need to keep the windows down to keep things cool. You have to keep an eye out for everything as you twist and turn going down the trail passing the slow moving trucks going down and missing the slow trucks coming up also. You may get stuck behind a truck for a long time before that you can find a section of the road that you can pass the truck on. You have to miss the large rocks that fall from the mountain when it rains and the soil supporting them is washed away then they are washed down the mountain and end up on the road. Also the rain flowing over the road makes washouts in the road/cat trail and you have to avoid theses washouts along the road/cat trail as you travel. Every once in a while you are reminded of the danger of the road by a truck or car that has gone over the edge. It twisted remains at the bottom of the valley (wadi) reminding you to be very vigilant in you driving. The trucks pull over were they can to change tires or do other needed repairs on the trucks. It takes from an hour and half to two hours to make it trough this twisting and turning road. At one point when you are in the bottom of the wadi (valley) you can see were flash floods has washed away cars and trucks into the trees or the rocks. One of the trucks is an old Ford truck which is now outlawed in Saudi Arabia because they have a plant in Israel. Heavy rains happen quite normally in the mountains not like in the desert were they seldom happen, since there is no soil to soak up the water it runs down hills in the wadi’s (valleys) washing away everything in front of the wall of water. So you can be in the dry sunny wadi (valley) when you are hit by a flash flood from the mountains. As you descend to the desert area the temperature increases. The temperature at the top of the mountains does not require any air conditioners but they are sure needed in the desert area around the Red Sea area.

When we near the bottom of the mountains there is a tunnel that you travel through. After this tunnel you are back on an asphalt road and the desert starts. As we near the Red Sea the road forks one road left ,south, goes to the port at Jazin the other turns north and heads toward the port at Jeddah. I head south for a short distance to go to the only gas station in this area. I turn into the gas station and pull up to the pumps. These pumps only have the amount of fuel that is pumped not the price of fuel per liter (gallon). I full up the Nissan Patrol fuel tank and am charged 10 riyals for the fuel (about $2.60 dollars). At this time gas it a lot cheaper to by than water. A gallon of water cost about 8 to 10 riyals around $2.60 however I can get 10 gallon of gas for that price. Then I go into the station and get a Pepsi ( at this time Coke is outlawed in Saudi Arabia because it has a plant in Israel) out of their refrigerator which is cold and pay the 1 riyal ( 1 riyal is about 26 cents which is still the going price for a Pepsi) price for it.

With a full tank of gas and a Pepsi to help cool me off I head back on the road. I am traveling north now. I pass the fork in the road that takes you back to Abah and continue north along the road. After a short distance the asphalt road ends. The road that continues is a path in the sand that has been traveled by others. Before long I pass a Saudi fishing village that is between the path and the Red Sea. The people here dress like the Yemenis and not like the Saudi’s. They wear a skirt like dress with the normal headgear. Not the long nightgown type of dress the Saudi’s wear. The village has the typical round huts that is made from the local trees. They have the normal sheep, goat, and camel herd. Also they fish in the Red Sea. As I continue on the path there is not any more habitation. I come to a rock formation that is at the edge of the Red Sea. A short distance further north is a Saudi Coast Guard station. However they have no boats. Guess that they only monitor the shoreline. Since the rock out cropping is a major land mark in this area.

I continue on down the path. Shortly I pass an old dock and grave yard that was built by the Ottoman empire when they controlled this area. At Abah is a well preserved fort that was built by the Ottoman’s. It has a latrine which had running water and the eastern type of toilets. The road between Abah and Taif is lined with watchtowers within site of each other. Every once in a while the road had a fort to support a garrison which protected this area and supplied troops for the watch towers. It is too bad that many of these are being torn down to make room for improvements and in the process they are losing part of their history. The Ottoman Empire rule was not a happy time in the history of the Saudi Arabia.

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