I feel the need to thank a country. Is that weird?
We set out on our holiday 11 days ago – and I said I’d blog all week and I didn’t get past the first post that was 1/2 way into the week. I was having too much fun doing stuff…and doing nothing. Neither of which could possibly have been interrupted to give an account.
We decided part way through the week that we wouldn’t actually do everything on our list. There are 6 people coming to visit us (so far) in January and February and not all together! They’re coming in 4 separate groups. So the must do things we thought we’d pass on and save them for when our guests could enjoy them as well.
We still had a few very interesting experiences. I’ll give them to you in a couple of posts and I’m going to start with the best. That doesn’t seem like good story telling (let’s begin with the climax but I’m breaking the rules…such a rebel).
My favourite day of the holiday found us driving around Doha taking some pictures and video. It was an incredibly clear day. There have been very few quite like this. We comment every time we drive into the city on the clarity of the day. It would seem that sand acts a lot like smog or fog. This day we were driving in we could see the city from SO far away. It was crystal clear. Two days later it was under a heavy “fog” again as the winds had swept the sand up.
After driving around all afternoon, scouting for a few things but mostly appreciating the city with our cameras, we then went to the Souk. I’ve written about it before if you need to go back and look. It’s colourful and full of atmosphere and a great place to go at anytime.
Dave ate camel for supper (he’s the most adventurous). I had lamb tajine with prunes, almonds and sesame seeds. Might not sound great but it was quite good. Qatar has convinced me that lamb is good, when no one else has succeeded before. Feels wrong to leave Honour out…tuna sandwich. Ya. That says it all.
After dinner we went to another restaurant and sat out on a balcony overlooking the Souk’s activity, looking at the moon and the perfectly clear starry sky, and smoked a little apple and strawberry shisha. It was already a magical day and night and it was only partly over!
As we were leaving the souk there was some live music starting up. It was very traditional Arabic music and dancing and I’m sure it was telling some kind of story, but you’d have to understand Arabic to get it. Dancing also broke out in the crowd. I had been watching them for a few minutes. A handful of young men seemed to be trying not to dance. Eventually the joy of the music and the moment overtook them and the linked arms and began to dance. You’ll see these dancers in the video. Notice how they are all dressed, from very traditionally Qatari to still obviously Qatari but more modern and everything in between. It couldn’t have been planned better. We loved this…but had to pull ourselves away as we had one more stop.
We rushed off to Katara Village were they were hosting 3 nights of a laser show that told the history of Qatar. This we did not want to miss, and it was the last night. It was hard to leave the Souk but we did and we were not disappointed.
This was like nothing we’ve ever seen before – laser lights, fountain works (?), video projection and fireworks all together making an incredible show. It reminds me of my visits to New York City. NYC has a way of taking an idea and applying levels of creativity that I would have never thought existed and blows everyone’s mind. Wonder. Awe. This is what this display evoked.
Again – I’m not sure what I learned about the history of Qatar from it as the story was told in Arabic but it did tell me something about the people and the country. They’re very proud of their heritage, and their history is ancient and rich with culture and has changed incredibly quickly in the last couple of generations. They’ve gone from bedouins and pearl fishermen to being one of the wealthiest countries in the world. As they try to find their way forward in this new world there is some tension between who they have been and who they are becoming. Think of any person who has quickly gained wealth. The mixture of misuse and good use are all here.
This was a night that encapsulated the “yin and the yang” of the grappling that is happening as they adjust to their new world. On one hand it was over-the-top lavish. A lot of things are. I could list some, but I won’t. I’m their guest.
This lavish display of wealth was coupled with their generosity in sharing it with us. With everyone. I feel and see this country’s generosity and hospitality often.
The moon hung over the light show like a brilliant spectator, or participant. The same moon that has watched the Qatari people in the desert and on the sea. A beam of continuity in their rapidly changing history. It was truly magical and my heart was filled with gratitude that I could be here, watching and participating at this point in history.
Thank you Qatar!
**This post has been sitting waiting for days now and is not quite the same without the video I’ve taken, but there’s so much to edit and it’s bottlenecking the system. The video is coming. Enjoy this little preview of the Dancing Boys. But the show must go on, so accept my apologies and please be patient. Here are some pictures of the day though. Photo cred to Honour. She’s taking a film and photography class and most of the artsy pictures are her homework.