Thursday, April 2, 2015

Driving to Qatar

Today starts our Spring Break of 2015 and we are very excited about the adventures we have in store.  However, our trip has taken on a bit of a cloud of it since we planned this journey two months ago.  Now with the world at such unrest, especially in the Middle East, I have to say that for the first time since living in Saudi and traveling I am a bit nervous.
A couple of days before our journey was to begin the US embassy sent out a "no travel in Saudi" warning.  A day after that there was word that Westerners working in the oil field in Saudi were targets.  This warning was specific in mentioning the company being targeted however, when you are out in public crazy people don't know which specific oil company we work for, they just know we look Western and I assume will make assumptions from there.  To make matters worse, we were going to be traveling 3 hours through Saudi and through a part of Saudi that is in a bit of unrest due to the two main tribes fighting.
Our original plan was to make our journey across Saudi a bit of a photo safari and stop to take pictures.  We also wanted to see a bit of the Hofuf area that is know for their caves.  It is suppose to be beautiful.  Needless to say, those plans changed!
We loaded up the car with all of our drinks and snacks so we wouldn't have to stop and we even brought a little potty for the kids.  Any pictures that were to be taken would be taken traveling at high speeds on the highway and just hope to capture some of the beauty.  We were going to "beeline" for the Qatar boarder!
And then there was a road block and we ended up detoured RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the area we didn't want to be in.  Looking back, everything was fine however, in the moment we didn't know the unknowns and the "what ifs" and we just wanted out of there.  Every turn we took was wrong and put up more into the area we didn't want to be in.  Then, in the middle of it, Ethan started throwing up (he was really car sick on this trip and this was his third time).  We usually pull over but not this time.  Thankfully we were super prepared and I was able to handle it from the front seat while Brad kept driving.  Depositing the mess would happen much later.... nothing like driving in a closed up car, being nervous, and smelling puke!
But it was soon over and we were soon out of the area and we were soon all cleaned up and ready to push on!  Close to the boarder we started to see more of the roadside stands set up that I had always wanted to take a picture of.  Now was my chance.
These guys just pull over and sell out of their trucks.....
or set up their goods in front of the trucks.

I can't imagine how much foot traffic they get but it must be enough to keep them setting up day after day!
And FINALLY, we made it!!!!  3 long hours later!  We were leaving Saudi!
But we weren't quit in Qatar yet!!  There is about 1-2 miles of unclaimed land!  Both countries are fighting over who owns it so right now no one does!  And it is just a space of barbwire fence and trash!  No one owns it so it is no ones responsibility to keep it clean!
And then, Qatar!
It amazes me how you can tell the instant you cross the boarder of Saudi into either Bahrain and now Qatar, the difference in appearance and cleanliness is instant!  Take a look at Qatar's customs' booths vs. Saudi's above!
After crossing the boarder, we had another hour drive to get to Doha where we would be staying.  I could drive here if I wanted but Brad kept driving and I kept dealing with kids (more Ethan pukes).  I have to say that what I know is that Doha has A LOT of traffic and they are not set up for it.  It took us about 45 minutes to drive about 5 miles which included stop and go heavy traffic and several roudabouts that were terrible for Ethan's stomach!  I was SO happy when we FINALLY made it to our hotel...... until we found out it was a "dry" hotel!  While Qatar is not as strict as Saudi it does have A LOT of rules which we were about to find out!  So we canceled our reservations and left that hotel and set out in search of a hotel that better fit our needs!  Crazy!  I know!  But 3 hotels later and we landed at the Movenpick!
Hello Doha!!!  We are happy to be here and ever more excited to be OUT OF THE CAR!!!!!

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