Take the road less traveled, they said…
It will be fun, they said…
So often you get advised to take the road less traveled. To make your own (foot/car) prints. To do your own thing. To make your own mistakes and to learn from it afterwards.
This is our journey of doing exactly just that and the
disaster, experience that ensued…
On Friday morning, 3am we left our house to venture the desert. We were going to meet up with a whole lot of South African expats and their families at the Inland Sea. Braai (BBQ on flames), sea, sand and pure fun was the order of the day. Kids were half asleep as we carried them to the packed car.
We got to the “entrance” of the sandpit first, as planned, as we wanted to get our car’s tires deflated and ready before the flock of Saffas arriving. The sun was just starting to break over the horizon and we all were hyped up on excitement and a quick snack, ready for the day.
There were already a lot of other cars. Some were about to go in, others were coming out after a night of camping. Camels standing about ready to give tourists an experience. The atmosphere really is an adventurous feeling that really electrifies your whole body.
After our snack, Mr Bear suggested we start venturing in, taking it slow and even have a stop on one of the sand dunes to really experience the beautiful sun rise.
The decision was then made to start making our way to the Inland Sea. This is basically the stretch of water that separates Saudi Arabia from Qatar. Up the sand dunes, down the sand dunes we go. Some are bigger than others, some are more terrifying to get up or down from (well, for me at least). But overall, it’s still fun.
And then it was thought (hmmmm…. Mr. Bear) to be a good idea to go into an area where there are no car track marks, cause you know, take the road less traveled, adventure forward, explore…
Less than a 100 meters off the main road; my internal warning lights start going off… This is a bad idea. Get out. Turn around. You should have waited for others. Don’t go into the sandpit by yourself. Warning lights were correct. Mr Bear started turning around and then… STOP! No movement. Sand being spit up from all the wheels. Feels like we are being showered by sand. I tell him to wait as I get out to see what was going on…
The car was flat on its belly on the sand. Tires sunk deep into the hole it’s dug for itself. We were stuck. Absolutely no way of getting out of here by ourselves…. And guess what, we were perfectly behind a sand dune so the view to the road was non-existent.
6: 43 am
Out Mr Bear gets and we start digging. I mean, we are Saffas, and ‘n boer maaks ‘n plan (A farmer makes a plan — don’t give up, make a plan). Remove the sand from the tires so they’re actually visible. Try again to get out – FAIL! There’s no traction for the tires and the belly of the car is being held up by the sand. Well this is just fantastic!
Mr Bear decided to go up the sand dune to flag down some passers by. Bunny follows. “So much fun”, he says after he runs off with his dad. But of course, Murphy wouldn’t have any cars passing then.
In the mean time, Monkey and I are making ourselves comfy in the shade of the car. We have enough water and food and we even have full signal on our phones, so we’ll call if no help in a few minutes… and look there’s nothing that can be done right now.
Bunny joins us again. Too boring to sit and wait for a passing car. He takes out his toys to play. Monkey starts gnawing on his toys and I decide to indulge myself in a cold one while updating a friend of mine of the happenings. (She thinks it’s hilarious and even sends me a video clip of Daniel the Tiger’s song “When you feel so mad you want to roar”. Thanx hun.)
Mr Bear arrives pushing 2 huge tires. The plan? To stick it under the car, behind the front tires to provide some grip. Ok; this might work. Bunny thinks it’s great fun getting the tires to the car. Good exercise for them both.
Buuuuuttt, the plan doesn’t work…
A random car ventures on our side of the dune. Out pops 5 Good Samaritans. We explain to them what happened.
No, we are stuck.
No, we don’t have a rope.
Yes, the tires are correctly deflated.
No, it’s lying flat on the bottom of the car.
Yes, we’ve tried that.
Oh, you also don’t have a rope. Okay…
You can’t help us. Okay…
Oh here’s a number we must call and someone will come. Great!
In the mean time, I post a plea of help on our Saffa’s Facebook page, praying that someone will get the notification.
And just as they’re about to leave, a car gets spotted coming over the big sand dune, a good 500+ meters away from us. We start waiving. We yell. I press the hooter of the car. Bunny jumps up and down. Monkey just chews his toy. And then another car right behind it, and another, and another… And there we spot the South African flag from one of the cars. It was our fellow expats. It felt like they’ve been sent from Heaven just for us. The most beautiful sight I had seen in a long time. Roughly 15 or so cars, filled with our expat family, all of them we haven’t even met yet. They stop about 100m away from us, Mr Bear walks closer to meet them and roughly 15 men come walking towards. We were saved!
Strong pickups come in to pull us out, rope gets hooked onto the cars, we quickly load everything back into the car. Moms and kids patiently wait in their own cars. They’re obviously used to some inexperienced-first-timer to get stuck in the desert.
WE ARE OUT!!!!! To Mr C.S., who took that exact route where he was able to see us, a route he never usually takes, a route even his wife asked him what he was doing; thank you for following your instincts. To all the gentlemen who came to push and pull our car out; thank you. To all the other angels that patiently (or silently swearing us and our stupidity; I won’t blame you if you did) waited for us in their cars; thank you.
We made it to the Inland Sea. We made new friends. We learned to never ever ever go into the desert by ourselves. Mr Bear got stung by a jellyfish. Bunny swam in the sea. Monkey chewed his toys (and slept). We had great fun.
Looking back on this now, I can see why you are often told to “Take the road less traveled” and I don’t have a problem with it. Because if it wasn’t for this experience, we wouldn’t have learned something new; we wouldn’t have made new friends; we wouldn’t have these memories with the kids that we can one day reminiscence on.
So if there’s another opportunity to take the road and make our own footprints, I’ll take it; just not into the desert by myself.