This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

Monthly Archives: March 2015

I LIVED IN TROPICAL ARABIA, THAT IS, THE KINGDOM OF  SAUDI ARABIA. THE BIGGEST ARAB STATE IN WESTERN ASIA. ARABIA IS THE ONLY COUNTRY WITH SO MUCH RED SEA AND THE ONLY LAND WITH TWO SACRED MOSQUES. THIS COUNTRY IS THE MAJOR PRODUCER OF PETROLEUM IN THE WORLD. OUR HOME WAS IN KING FAHAD HOSPITAL IN THE ASIR CHAIN OF MOUNTAINS PARALLEL TO THE RED SEA. IN THESE SERRATED MOUNTAINS IS THE VILLAGE OF AL BAHA WHERE I WAS WORKING AS AN INTERNAL MEDICINE PHYSICIAN CONSULTANT FOR THE ARABS AND NOMADIC DESERT BEDOUINS . THE HOSPITAL WAS SITUATED  IN A SCENIC TOP OF A  HILL IN SUNNI TERRITORY.

AL BAHA IS LOCATED BETWEEN LA MECCA AND ABHA PROVINCES. THIS IS THE SPLENDID GREEN  ARABIA AND AT THE PRESENT TIME IS A TOP TOURIST ATTRACTION.  IT HAS A NICE MOUNTAIN CLIMATE SURROUNDED BY MORE THAN FIFTY FORESTS.

IT IS NOT TOO FAR BETWEEN BAHA TO THE BEAUTIFUL CITY OF TAIF: THE DISTANCE IS OF 18O KM, AND TO JEDDAH 292. AL LITH ON  THE RED SEA COAST  WAS NOT FAR AWAYEITHER BUT  THE ECOSYSTEMS DRIVING ON THESE ROADS ARE OF SCRUB AND SANDY DESERT AND SEVERAL DRY WADI BEDS. THE AVIFAUNA THAT CAN BE SEEN ON ROUTE IS OF HOOPOES, WHEATEARS, BULBULS, HIGH FLYING LAMMERGEIERS, EGYPTIAN AND GRIFFON VULTURES.

THERE ARE SOME SUNBIRDS ( SIMILAR TO THE AMERICAN HUMMINGBIRDS IN IRIDESCENT COLORS) ON THE SCRUB VEGETATION AND BEE-EATERS IN THE WADI BANKS. FREQUENT ANIMALS SEEN ON THE DESERT SCENE ARE  MONGOOSE, GOATS, CAMEL CARAVANS  AND BANDS OF BABOONS AND HAMADRYAS NOT FAR AWAY FROM THE TOWNS. MANY TOWERS OF STONE CALLED “QASABAS” UNIQUE TO THE ASIR MOUNTAINS   ARCHITECTURE ARE VERY COMMON.GROVES OF PALM TREES ARE AT THE NEAR OASIS OF AL AGEEC AND ORCHARDS OF VEGETABLES, FRUITS, DATES, APRICOTS, OLIVES, GRAPE ORCHARDS AND OF POMAGRANATES ARE CULTIVATED  IN THE WADIS OF THE VICINITY OF THE TOWNS.

WORKING WITH AN INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL STAFF I ACQUIRED MANY FRIENDS FROM EGYPT, SWEDEN, THE UNITED KINGDOM AND USA. ONE DAY MY COLLEAGUE PEDIATRICIAN AND  FRIEND DR. FRANK BENINCASO INVITED ME TO GO SNORKELING TO THE RED SEA TRAVELING IN HIS JAPANESE  JEEP. FRANK AND HIS ITALIAN FRIENDS USE TO GO ON THE WEEKENDS TO THE RED SEA COAST CLOSE TO THE TOWN OF AL LITH. NO NEED FOR A NEOPRENE WET SUIT SINCE THE WATER TEMPERATURE IS TROPICAL. FRANK FRIENDS PROVIDED ME WITH A DIVING MASK, SNORKEL AND FINS.

AL LITH AND THE RED SEA COAST IS ABOUT 2OO KM SOUTH OF JEDDAH. THIS CITY OF THE TIHAMAH REGION  IS ONE OF THE LARGEST MARITIME PORTS OF THE KINGDOM. POLITICALLY IT BELONGS TO THE PROVINCE OF MECCA.

ABANDONED GASOLINE STATIONS AND HERDS OF GOATS WERE PRESENT ON OUR APPROACH TO THE BEACH SITE. NO HOTELS, NO RESORTS…IF YOU WANT TO STAY OVERNIGHT  SIMPLY SLEEP ON THE VEHICLES OR  ON THE BEACH SAND. THE WATER TEMPERATURE IN JANUARY IS ABOVE 30 DEGREES CELSIUS AND IN FEBRUARY SHARKS COME TO THE SHALLOW WATERS.

THE RED SEA HAS A CORAL REEF CLOSE TO AL LITH. THE TIDES ARE CALM THERE. IN REALITY THE RED SEA IS A GULF BETWEEN AFRICA AND ASIA WITH A WIDTH OF 280 KM. ENTERING THROUGH THE GULF OF ADEN AND THE STRAIT OF BAB EL MANDEB. SOMETIMES THE RED SEA IS CALLED THE ERYTRAEAN SEA. WE WERE DIRECTLY ACROSS THE WESTERN SHORE AND PORT SUDAN IN AFRICA.

THIS SUBMARINE GARDEN IS THE NORTHERNMOST TROPICAL SEA WITH EXTENSIVE SHALLOW SHELVES WITH AN INCREDIBLE MARINE LIFE AND CORALS. THE RED SEA REEF FISHES OF MORE THAN 1000 SPECIES EXHIBIT A CONSIDERABLE VARIATION IN COLOUR AND WITH INCREDIBLE BEAUTY. YOU CAN SEE  SEAHORSES, MORAYS,SQUIRRELFISHES, FROGFISHES, SCORPION AND LETHAL STONE FISHES, SNAPPERS, PARROT FISHES  AND GROUPERS OF ALL COLORS AND SIZES AND  SPADEFISHES…BUT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GROUP OF THEM ALL WERE THE COLORFUL ANGELFISHES.

THE RED SEA HERE  IS ALMOST TIDELESS COMPARING IT WITH PLAYA LANGOSTA IN THE CARIBBEAN PANAMANIAN COAST.

THE RED SEA MARINE ECOSYSTEM AND COAST LINE (AOUT 2OOO KM.) IS FORMED BY PRISTINE CORAL REEFS AND HAS ABOUT 1200 SPECIES OF BEAUTIFUL COLORFUL FISHES. 10% OF THEM ARE FOUND NOWHERE ELSE. I ENJOYED WITH ALL MY SENSES OBSERVING THE BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLY FISHES, THE ANGEL FISHES AND MANY SPECIES OF CORALS.

PELAGIC SPECIES OF BIRDS AND FISHES AND MORE THAN 40, SPECIES OF SHARKS VISIT …A MAJOR DRAW FOR DIVING ENTHUSIASTS BUT MANY DIVERS KNOW AND THINK THEY ARE INNOCUOUS. I GOT THE HELP OF A WATERPROOF DIVERS GUIDE TO THE RED SEA FISHES. (John E. Randall PhD).

IT WAS A GREAT DAY FOR AN EXPATRIATE WORKING IN SAUDI ARABIA.TO FRANK AND I AND  MANY OF US, A TRIP TO THE RED SEA WAS LIKE A TRIP TO A PARADISE AWAY FROM CULTURAL PRESSURES AND HEAVY DAILY LABOR.

 

 

 

 

most recently