By Author Mariam Hussein
One day, my husband, mother, father, and I traveled to hidden Wadi Al Khashaa Naman, a beautiful valley near Taif, Saudi Arabia.
It is in a remote location between Makkah and Taif, about 2 hours from Jeddah (see map).
The valley is so remote that we lost the GPS signal getting there.
Thoughts We Would Never Get There
However, the weather was mild, and my mother and I had packed different homemade goodies for the outing.
We were heading for beautiful waterfalls in the valley, but getting there proved difficult.
My father drove us offroad between tall craggy mountain peaks along rocky roads that forked off in many directions.
The going was tough and bumpy, and we lost our way several times.
Suddenly, we saw rising smoke swirling up at the far end of a path hidden by massive rocks and trees.
Hoping to get help and directions, we drove closer to the smoke, near a large rock and shady trees.
There we saw a family of Bedouins sitting on the ground having a picnic.
Hesitant but desperate to find our way, we greeted them.
An elderly Bedouin lady noticed women in the car and signaled my mother and me to join them. Feeling relieved, we got out of our vehicle.
As is the custom, no men are allowed to sit amongst women, and the females had on black cloaks (Abaya), head coverings (Hijab), and face veils (Niqaab).
My husband and father joined a group of men in another seating area.
We saw six Bedouin ladies on the ground sipping hot coffee. The swirl of steamy smoke we had seen earlier came from a big pot of boiling coffee on a camp stove.
It Smelled Delicious!
As we entered their tent, the friendly ladies invited us to sit and offered us refreshments.
I was astounded by how open and welcoming they were.
One of the ladies inquired where we were from. I replied Sri Lanka, and they all gleefully exclaimed, Ah, chai, referring to the world-renowned high-quality tea produced there.
We learned that all the ladies were Bedouins from the Mecca region out for a daytime picnic.
One older woman told me something touching, Where we come from does not matter, nor does our nationality.
In the eyes of Allah, we are all equal. None of us is superior to the other except in our religion.
My husband and father had joined the men in their tent and drank Arabic coffee with delicious sweets.
Shared Goodies And Departure
I had made some coconut toffee and almond bars for our picnic, and they were thrilled when we offered them some.
After some time, the kind Bedouins directed us to our destination and provided helpful information.
They warned us to drive carefully and watch for dangerous paths and falling rocks. We took our leave with a lot of laughter and hugs.
Sometimes a little kindness goes a long way.
Meeting wonderful locals like them so out of the blue makes me feel grateful to live in this magical kingdom.
They may not think much of it, but we felt loved.
Thanks to those kind people, we found our way to the waterfalls and enjoyed our day trip to the beautiful Wadi Al Khashaa Naman!