I rose at 5.30am and was in the road an hour later. At that moment I felt fragile. I was swimming but not able to touch the floor. I had read about atrocities committed in the Israeli Gaza war, the 7th October start which I missed by two days. I read something which filled me with such sadness I dared not close my eyes in case I saw what happened in the darkness. I think we all feel like this. Forever I felt the world a plaything, like fruit that can be tasted, it's juices running from your lips and tongue. Everything starts to dry and fade with time and yet it's not the fruit that fails but the tongue. I left for the border with the United Arab Emirates. It was hard to leave that little airstream caravan, I wanted to hide away like a dormouse in his little burrow, hidden in a field of wheat. And I thought however much you can keep quiet, you'll never do it for long because some day somebody's is going to find you. As travellers, as writers, we are a people torn by the tension between the need to communicate and the desperate desire to hide.
Saudi customs were immaculately clean in a decor of grey, sofas, office furniture in white and blue shockingly at odds with Little India on the road. Air conditioning and men in clean white shirts. Cigarettes and tissues on shelves behind the operating officers in their dark blue uniform, chocolates and other comforts of their stomachs hidden slightly by photocopying machines and large computer screens.
There were two more checkpoints from which I was given more bottles of water, it was insisted I have them even though there are now six on my back jersey pockets. On entering UAE I was given two more and a cup of coffee. The appointing security official said I was only the third cyclist to pass through here in a year. Lots of motorcyclists.
UAE was neither a relegation of my fantasy to cycle around the world and neither was it a disappointment but it was a country I had to cycle across to get to the end of this very long section of route. Some countries are just there.
Map of the Day