16 June 2024

We stopped here at this fairly rundown town near the Kuwaiti border so see if we could hire a driver to take our bus across the frontier. Apparently, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait don’t communicate with each other so border crossings, if anything is out of the ordinary, can be problematic. We’re out of the ordinary by a country mile.

Our organisers went off trying to organise and we looked for somewhere to have a wee. We found what looked like an office block but was in fact a shopping mall. It looked brand new and very few shops were open or even trading. We found a loo near a mosque and answered our calls of nature. Then we met someone who looked official and was immaculately dressed in full Arab robes and headdress. He was very friendly and escorted us to a coffee shop. It was elegant and had a fountain and women in full burkhas served us. The prices were very high but we ordered anyway. I ordered a karak which at 9 Rial, was pricey. I expected about 0.5 Rial.

Then they produced exotic bronze teapots and tiny cute cups and served us, for free, Arabian coffee. It was almost like karak but had no milk and was a greenish colour with tastes of cardamon and possible cloves. It didn’t really taste of coffee but was delicious.

Then they proferred plate after plate of delicious cakes and big plump dates. We ate until we could eat no more. The sense of hospitality and generously was profound. They took photos of us and we of them of both of us of us together. A true jewel of a moment. Hospitality is one of the five pillars of Islam.

I couldnt help wondering what might happen if a group of Arabs or Asians, as scruffy as we are, arrived at a fancy shopping mall in Dublin or London or Berlin. I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t get anywhere near as much hospitality as we did in this town. They’d probably be told to feck off or I’ll call the Guards on yous all.

But, then again, I think of the hospitality offered to Ukrainian or Syrian refugees in Ireland and my faith in human nature is rebalanced a bit.

We stayed here a few hours but no joy in getting a bus it driver so heading back to the border again.

(Please click on any thumbnail above to enlarge the whole gallery for full size sliding photos)

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