In my secret life as a nomadic gypsy, I am once more packing up the travel valise to head to other frontiers. No jaunts from the North to the South of our fair land this time. I am heading for the airport and foreign climes - Qatar to be exact. I am feeling thoroughly underwhelmed by the entire trip. I have my reasons for this.
1: Knowing nothing of the country, other than the fact that it sounds like something disgusting that you might cough up, I looked on the official toursim website. They offered me an all singing, all dancing photo album to flick through. This is what it showed me. A hotel, some sand dunes with gridlocked 4 x 4's driving through it, a field of Ibex or something like an Ibex. Apparently this is the national animal and I can go and see it on a farm, in a 4 x 4 I expect. There was also a picture of lots of high rises against the shore line, another hotel and some boats in a marina. THAT WAS IT. The official tourist board of the country could find nothing else to show me to tempt me to their shores.
2: I was not put off by this. I persevered. I looked at a second website. In the Entertainment section they had these thrilling comments to offer me:
"Entertainment in Qatar is expected to grow steadily in the coming years. Quality entertainment and concerts are just becoming known to the country. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical production, Cats, was staged in 2003, and the opera, Carmen, played during 2004. Both Shaggy and UB40 have performed in Qatar. Doha also boasts a national opera and orchestra".
Be still, my beating heart. Really - UB40 AND Shaggy have played there. Will the fun never stop?
3: It's really very hot there. Hot enough that chickens only lay their eggs in fridges in case they come out pre boiled. I'm not good with excessive heat. Anything up to 30 degrees I can bask in, anything over that and I impersonate the wicked witch and run around screaming 'I'm melting, I'm melting'
4: I can't pack. I can't get my head around the idea that it really will be hot, definitely and with no uncertainty at all. There isn't the slightest chance of a sudden low front moving in with showers and cold winds. The sun will shine even if you shout at it to go away. I am sitting here in driving rain having survived the first of the autumn storms last nights with Force 7 gales and I am supposed to take T shirts, floaty skirts and delicate shirts seriously as a form of clothing. I can't. I keep sneaking jumpers and thick socks into my suitcase. Since I am planning on only taking hand luggage for the week, this is making the packing trickier than usual.
5: I don't actually own that many summer clothes. I live on a mountain in Wales, why would I need them? Consequently I have spent the last 24 hours raiding the wardrobes of overly generous friends in a search for suitable attire that I can't bring myself to pack because I think it will be too cold.
6: Despite the fact that I booked a flight that leaves mid morning on Saturday, I am still having to get up in time to hear dawn go 'Crack' in order to get to the airport in time for the stupid three hour check in. I then won't arrive until 1.00 o'clock in the morning. I am tall, plane seats are small. This is not something to look forward to.
7: I am only going to Qatar because a friend lives there and started rending her clothes and weeping at the prospect of being there for months on end with only an Ibex to keep her company. It will be really lovely to spend a week with her, and to catch up properly. I like her a lot, but when confronted with the cheapest flight with Qatar air ($2500!!!!) I baulked. I wondered whether maybe she wasn't a bit irritating and if I shouldn't pick a fight with her so that I didn't have to shell out my life savings to go to a country that I didn't want to see. Instead I hit the interweb and found a flight with an airline that I have never heard of. There is a stopover in Istanbul for a couple of hours and I have every expectation of the captain coming round and asking us to all contribute some cash for the fuel costs.
It will probably turn out to be one of those amazing holidays, and Cattarh, sorry - Qatar will be a place of extraordinary beauty, with the gentle tones of Cats floating over the sand dunes. I shall pack and be grateful. Honestly.
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