This continued crappy winter weather has me longing for sunnier, warmer times. Much, much warmer times. As in Middle East heat during the summer warmer times. Right about now I’d gladly trade my boots, hat, gloves, multiple clothing layers and huge parka for a conservative-yet-breathable outfit in the sunny warmth of Abu Dhabi.
One of the more memorable experiences there was my trek to Heritage Village on a sweltering day. The kind of heat where you walk out the door and can feel it on your eyeballs. Yes, your eyeballs, that is not a mistype. You’re really not supposed to feel your eyeballs, that’s how you know they’re working correctly. But when it’s 115 degrees with 70 percent humidity and you’ve already walked for a few miles, you feel heat in places you never think about. Like eyeballs. Or inner elbow creases. Or clavicle curves. Or earlobes.
It was so hot I questioned whether collapsing and letting vultures feast on my shriveled, dehydrated body would be a better option than continuing this damn walk. (Even though I hadn’t seen any vultures or other substantial signs of animal life. But you know, it could happen.) Enough about the heat. You know I love warmth and sunshine and am not complaining in the least. I am reminiscing on my summer adventure and longing for it now. Back to Heritage Village…
Let’s be real here: as enjoyable as the attraction may be, it is rather small. The only tours going on when I was there were not in English so I had to do my best with the signs, which used decent English but it wasn’t exactly top notch. Luckily, it’s easy enough to glean the most important information. Heritage Village shows what traditional Emirati life was like in Bedouin camps. Although some people reportedly still live this way of life, largely it began dying out when companies began drilling for oil and cities started being built in the early 1900s or so. I loved the history lesson.There’s a small market……and a large sword.I learned about ancient architecture and burial places… …and the extensive life on the water of the Arabian (Persian) Gulf involving dhows (traditional wooden boats)……and wells and irrigation in the UAE, which surprised the heck out of me because I never would have suspected the desert would possess accessible water. But I guess it makes perfect sense, because how else could the nomads and their animals survive? Duh.The highlight of the visit was wandering into the artisan area. Numerous artisans had small shop spaces demonstrating old Bedouin trades, from sword shaping to glass blowing.
The absolute best part was running into this guy who sits on a loom and weaves textiles out of silk and camel hair.I asked questions and he did his best to answer in very broken English, often just resorting to a smile and a shake of the head to convey that he didn’t understand. But the part that needed no translation was his insistence that I climb onto the loom and try my hand at weaving while he snapped photos. He sort of herded me like an animal and forced me up there. Getting onto the loom may appear to be a simple task, but the move involved maneuvering over the elevated structure while attempting to maintain my modesty in a skirt… especially considering the conservative nature of the UAE. But I made it. And I wove. And I loved it. Sadly, I did not have the ability to spend several days in that spot, which is what it would take to finish the teeny tapestry. I’m going to go ahead and count this as an experience riding an inanimate object, which we already know I’m obsessed with.
Yes, Heritage Village is a spot designed solely for tourists and I tend to avoid overly touristy sites. But I do think this is worth a stop. Allot about half and hour and be pleasantly surprised if it lasts longer. Just be sure to partake in the crafts, because how often do you really get to say you hopped onto a loom to weave camel hair and silk?