The Dead Yellow Taxi
Young, old, bespectacled, clear eyed, lawyers that taught university English from America, German linguists who taught university English, urology nurses from Australia, telecom workers from Australia, water system evaluators from Russia, army and air force personnel from the US, pharmacy students from Jamaica, nurses from Finland, all of these folks and many more- almost 200 strong, scrabbled and scrambled down the wadi past the dead yellow taxi, and disappeared into its depths on a desert walk. We met on a moonscape littered with fossils from under the sea and sprinkled with black rocks like chunks of petrified licorice- on a windy bluff overlooking the depths of the wadi and the dead yellow taxi that was lodged in its uppermost jaws.
We went with our friend John, The Irish banker and thought we would hang out and chat while we waited for the other folks to arrive. Our chairs blew over as soon as we set them up outside the van so we retreated over the edge of the wadi to get protection from the buffeting, incessant, drying wind. The main color of the landscape was taupe and was littered with rocks that had the texture of baked bubbled mud, and felt like they would tinkle under our feet except it was impossible to hear anything because of the roaring wind. The black rocks were all on the surface and were much lighter than the taupe ones. Who knows what part of the sea floor lost in the millennium of time they represented? If one believed in the apocalypse the scene would have been reassuring. With the last person of the convoy over the washed out gullies of the dirt road, followed an ancient beat up ice cream truck driven by an Indian fellow. Despite the cold, driving wind a long line ensued and ice cream eaters abounded. I unfortunately had a half-finished cone in my mouth as I slithered down the scree slope and almost choked, a pastime not recommended.
The trail is marked by blobs of white flour and our blobs went down a precipitous, arid scree slope decorated by fossilized coral and other sea creatures over 240 million years old (we are told). We followed the water washed and polished stone floor of the wadi where small pools of water had collected from the recent rain, though all else was dusty and dry. Acacias, whose delicate ferny leaves obscured vicious thorns, were placed at perfect design aspects, with small perennials in the radish family with delicate lavender flowers and massive thorns, decorated the ground here and there. Various Grand Canyonesque aspects opened up, and dry cascading waterfalls whose contents of air plummeted in frothing white torrents to the depths below.
We scrambled and climbed down steep slopes, rock ledges, boulders, in undignified and awkward positions the 200 of us, young, old, portly, svelt, out of shape, in shape, huffing and groaning and puffing in a very long straggling line of immense enjoyment.
This is Saudi Arabia………………………………………………………………………