I walked barefoot through the desert gate after a brutal ride through the dunes in a Toyota Land Cruiser, where the truck was leaning sideways to the point that I was loosing my sense of space. The Arab driver in traditional thwab was casually changing radio stations as he was furiously working the brakes and the steering wheel.
“You’ve done it before, no?” I asked.
“Highway drive is boring, I live for this here”, he replied in perfect English.
“Bet you own the camp in the desert too.”
“Yes,” he gave me a wide smile, “I do”.
He parked the car high on the dune and I went down where the lights were.
“Don’t rush,” he said. “We can be the first car out or we can be the last car out. It’s all the same to me.”
As I walked down, a man with a falcon on his arm came by and I didn’t know much about falcons so I asked him.
“Look,” he said, “the Bedouins didn’t have guns to hunt for animals in the desert, but they needed to eat all the same. What’s the second fastest thing that can catch an animal?”
I was looking at the falcon he held.
“This guy here.”
“He can go 400 km/hour when he strikes.”
I looked at the bird and he didn’t look like much and the man in the white thwab read my mind and said: “that’s the idea.”
The sunset came early in the desert and the food was ready, with belly dancing show on stage and all that.
The cold weather came with it.
Being here, so far away in the south, I wanted to wait out the corona scare even though I don’t believe in any of this, but the flights were getting cancelled and I had to make my way to the airport.
I did it in a Tesla and it’s a compliant ride, but I like a car that makes healthy noise, I need a manual transmission to make me feel how the car works, what it says, how the gears engage with the engine. Is the third gear too long? Is the steering loading heavy as I get into a turn?
The Tesla experience was like driving a dynamic wheelchair and the popularity of it makes me feel out of date. Not a bad feeling actually, simply because I think the others are missing out on something that I got under my skin.
Nice finishes inside the car though.
And no, I will not talk about the corona virus this time; except for the fact that this artificial scare makes most people think that something doesn’t add up.
That we’re all being had.
As Leonard Cohen had it:
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long-stem rose
And everybody knows
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler