After the season of Hajj gets over, all the pilgrims start to return home and the rush is somewhat decreased. There is a period of 15 days, when there are NO pilgrims from outside the country in Makkah and Madinah. I have found myself thanking God so many times to be able to make use of this opportunity to pray in peace without being jostled or pushed or moved or having myself splashed with cleaning solution (The most unbelievable things happen to me. Sigh!).
So we go to Makkah as many times as we can and at least once to Madinah, as we have doing for the past four years. After we shifted to Jeddah from Riyadh, we simply drive up as it’s just a four-hour drive to Madinah.
The last time we went, we left at our usual early morning right after the prayer. Now, my husband drives and I navigate. Normally, I am the perfect guide but I do make mistakes. That day, I made a boo boo. And how big we found out later on. Instead of taking the road towards Rabigh/KAUST, we exited towards the road going to Asfan. So basically, instead of taking the Jeddah-Madinah highway, we went on the Makkah-Madinah Highway (towards Madinah). What would be the difference you ask, since the destination would be the same? I answer, the difference between sea and mountains. You see, the former highway goes close to sea. The latter however, goes in between the mountains.
So there we were, driving and enjoying the beautiful sunrise, when suddenly I spotted a cloud of fog on the fields on the side of the roads. It looked so beautiful, a cloud hanging just a metre off the ground. As we were pointing it out to each other, we decided to come some day and drive in the foggy fields in the mornings. Now, someone has rightly said – “Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.” Just going about half a kilometre after that, we ourselves entered the fog! And NO, it wasn’t just a small cloud. It was a humongous piece of fog that lasted on for about 10 kms. The visibility reduced to around 10 metres. We could vaguely make out shapes of the vehicles in front of us and had to drive extra carefully.
I did not click any pictures in the fog as hardly anything was visible. But I do have a video of us entering and driving through the fog. Which I have put up on my Instagram page (@acoupleofexplorers /do check it out). In the meantime, there is a picture of the foggy mountains on our drive to Madinah that time :).
Although it was all very exciting, we were a bit scared as well, to be honest, because we have seen and driven through plenty of sandstorms, but it was the first time we had encountered fog on our way. We realized later that it was foggy only during early mornings, as while coming back, we took the same road to go through the fog again (Yes, we both are equally crazy!), but it was evening and the view was quite clear, sadly.
After that, we are mostly very careful about choosing our timing when it comes to long drives, and routes of our drives. As I think back in retrospect, that was such a unique experience that, as nervous and excited as we got, I wouldn’t miss it for the world! Only in Saudi, can you experience snowfall and heatwaves, sandstorms and fogs, droughts and floods in all forms and places. This is a country full of contradictions and every time you think you’ve seen it all, it proves you wrong with something new.