Tuesday, November 14, 2006

400 years old cache

Ok .. geocaching might have started only few years ago but here is a story of cache that is 400 years old. The area is Summan, known for its sinkholes or Dahals.

One particular dahal known as Abu Marwah is located at N 26 26.964 E 47 13.323. This would be just like any other dahal except for one difference. An old cache was hidden here about four centuries ago. The story goes like this: A famous local poet known by the name of Rashed AlKhalawi hide his rifle, when he grew old, in this dahal. He talked to his son about it but only vaguely. In doing so, he described the cache in a short poem (no GPS coordinates). When the son grew up, he went to the place and recovered his father's rifle and replied to his father poem with one line where he mentioned this dahal as the hiding place.

I read the story in a local history book and so decided to visit the place. My cousin and I left Riyadh on a chilly morning in January and drove to Rumah, the old town north east of Riyadh. We then drove in a northerly direction and crossed the red dunes of Dhana and arrived at Shaw'yah, a very small settlement on the southern edge of the Summan.

Our dahal was nine kilometres north of Shaw'yah and it was bigger than we expected. The surface probably collapsed making a big hole of about 20m across. Concrete pillars were put on the perimeter to protect motorists from accidentally falling into it.

We went down a little to check it out and found plants growing. These sinkholes were valuable sources of water for old caravans travelling in the desert. Unlike the poet who hid his rifle, we decided to stash our cache few hundred meters to the east of the dahal.

We then continued north and found another set of dahls where a cache was hidden here. Unfortunately we had no gear to climb down and so took some pictures instead. On our way back, we came across a herd of camels and gave them the right of way.
We stopped for making tea on one of the beautiful dunes of dhana desert before calling it off for the day.

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