Covid Catches Up with Me in Saudi Arabia

Abu Al-Qud Route, used by ancient traders who traveled up and down these pathways to Riyadh and to Mecca in the old days.
Abu Al-Qud Route, was used by ancient traders who traveled up and down these pathways to Riyadh and to Mecca in the old days.

I Caught the Covid in Saudi Arabia

Like everyone around the world, Covid 19 has been chasing me for the past two and a half years.  And like millions of others I finally felt its bite, which came on as I was relaxing at the Dana Beach Resort on the Gulf in Eastern Saudi Arabia.  It came on as I tried to sleep, fitful, anxious, and tossed around. It got worse and at the time I felt like it was just a summer cold, or maybe the flu. I should have known it was the famous disease that nobody wants to get.

My hosts inside the condo at Dana Beach Resort on the Gulf in Saudi Arabia. covid
My hosts inside the condo at Dana Beach Resort on the Gulf in Saudi Arabia.

I had a long day the next day, and I was expecting a 6:30 am pick up to make a train that left the city of Dammam at 8 am. But the driver didn’t show, and as I set my luggage out to the curb, I paced and called, hoping we might still be able to make that train. Nope.

So at 8:30, he arrived, and with the language barrier I couldn’t get an answer for the delay, but we headed to Al-Hofuf, the desert market town with the souk that we had visited a day before.

All was great, but the next train departed for Riyadh at 1:50 pm–a four-hour wait.  I felt crappy but wasn’t near anyone, and still didn’t know what was ailing me. Like most everywhere in the Kingdom, every woman was protected behind her chador in her black abayas. Very few exceptions.

The train from Dammam to Riyadh has frosted windows so you can't see a thing as you cross the desert. Apparently this is because of some secret military sites along the train route. It makes the journey a bit strange.
The train from Dammam to Riyadh has frosted windows so you can’t see a thing as you cross the desert. Apparently, this is because of some secret military sites along the train route. It makes the journey a bit strange.

My Riyadh guides were elegant and slim in their creased white thobes, and they picked me up and headed straight out into the windy desert. It was a sandstorm, and the visibility was pretty limited but the place we went was one of the country’s many remarkable places with nobody else around. I asked them to make a stop for Moroccan Moment hot tea from a roadside stand, these are everywhere in KSA.

The place we were going,  barely marked by a small roadside sign off a major highway, was Abu Al-Qud Route, an escarpment that towers high above the rugged desert and is marked by a series of trails that make their way up the steep mesa.  They had a set of sunshades and tables to enjoy the million-dollar views.

Interior Ministry building in Riyadh. Covid
Interior Ministry building in Riyadh.

These paths were used by traders between Riyadh and Mecca, and like so many of these surprises in the Kingdom, there were few signs and no fences to keep you from tumbling down into the abyss.

We followed up the desert excursion by seeing some of Riyadh’s impressive sites like the Interior Ministry, which has a series of larger and larger stories getting wider as it goes up.

One notable megaproject that’s still being built is the city’s new metro station, designed by Zaha Hadid. Boy, what a building! Undulating lines, oval and elongated with stripes along its sides and a surreal shape, like a humungous caterpillar.

The Covid is now waning. It was hard to get back from a long trip and not be able to leave my house but I did what I had to. Tomorrow I’ll be able to rejoin the rest of the world, even as my son-in-law Jon has to remain at my house in quarantine as he too, recovers from Covid in 2022.

I have had some other friends and relatives catch this covid the same week as I did, thankfully, despite all of us having rough beginnings to the sickness, we all have become better in a relatively short time and look forward to being even more immune than before after enduring the disease.

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