Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Taif (kind of): a photo album, part 4 (this is the last one)

This was the view from the revolving restaurant at the top of the hotel where we stayed in Taif.

The morning fog was so nice over the city of Taif.

After breakfast we drove about 200 kilometers north of Taif to the Al Waba crater. 

According to Dawi, locals don't know if this crater was caused by a meteor, or a volcano. The popular local legend is that the mountain that used to be here fell in love with another mountain in the north and moved itself so it could be close to its love. 

The crater is just on the other side of a little rise, at the end of a long desert road. We were driving and driving and finally Dawi pointed straight ahead and said, "It's right there." But we couldn't see anything. Then we go to the top of the rise and THIS was in front of us. It was very cool.

There is absolutely NOTHING close to this crater, so it was deafeningly quiet. Such a beautiful time to sit and look at a wonder of nature.

You could walk right along the edge. There was a little trail that the locals had worn down in their cars. Thankfully, the only graffiti at this site was on the little white gazebos put there to provide shade for picnicking families.

Mister posited on whether the rock surrounding the crater was igneous or not.

I just enjoyed the view. Walking around on the loose rocks was exceedingly difficult with my hair flying in my face, my abaya getting underfoot, and my hijab trying to float away in the steady wind.

The mountains surrounding the crater were so pretty.

On our way back to Jeddah, Dawi stopped the car and showed us the ruins of an old outpost built by Zubaydah, the wife of Harun Al Rashid, an Abbasid Caliph (~800 AD). She built posts like this about every 40 km along the Hajj route from Baghdad to Mecca. 

We were able to go inside the protective walls, which have been worn away over the years.

We could see the remains of the merchant stalls built into the walls, providing relief for road weary hajjis. 

Of course, I had to get a shot of the Mister poking around the ancient ruins.

A cross section of the wall.

The entrance of the outpost.

And there you have it, folks! The highlights of the photos we took on our semester vacation to Jeddah. We are now back to the grindstone full swing. We've got about 10 weeks until our next vacation in March, when we will be relaxing in Sri Lanka. You know we'll be keeping you updated on the our latest observations on the life of an expat in Saudi Arabia.

Vicariously yours,

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