National Geographic : 1966 Jan
Five times a day we halted for prayer. Each time I checked my compass and odom eter; Lynn put a check mark on the map. But when I drove, Jabr was my compass. With a faint wave of his hand he set the course. Jabr broke the silence. "Two sumtners ago my family followed the rain clouds south. We took this same track." Track! I saw nothing but dunes and, in the distance, a tiny black speck. As we drew near er, I recognized it as the carcass of a long dead camel. Jabr smiled. We were on course. Just before sunset, 13 hours south of Nad qan, Jabr justified my faith in him. "Al-hamdillaah! Praise be to God!" sighed Jabr. "Here is Wabar." I saw nothing. Then, over the dune, there was the crater. We killed our lamb and feasted round the campfire. Jabr and Wahier, the cook, told us stories about the evil city of Wabar. Allah had destroyed it with fire from the sky. I cross-examined Jabr, hoping for the secret of his remarkable navigating. Jabr couldn't explain his "sixth sense." Hospitality at a Bedouin Well THOUGH an arid, barren wilderness of boulders and sand, Arabia's Ar Rab' al Khali -the Empty Quarter-provides a home to the hardy Murrah tribe. In summer, when temperatures soar to 120° F., these eternal wanderers camp close to wells along the northern fringes of a vast wasteland the size of Texas. After a day of grazing on the burn ing dunes, camels drink smelly, brackish water unfit for humans. Their masters live for months without drinking water; to quench their thirst, they milk the camels (upper left). Pitching his tent near Nadqan Well, Emir Rashid ibn Nudaylah offers guests large bowls of the fresh milk and heaps of delicious dates. His son (upper right) pours coffee-spiced with cardamom and ginger root-from a long-beaked pot into tiny china cups. Earlier, he boiled the water over a brushwood fire and ground the beans in a brass mortar. A guest customarily accepts three servings; shaking the cup with a rapid twist of the wrist signifies a sufficiency. Hospitality is a duty as well as a joy for the Bedouin. He will kill his last sheep to feed the stranger at his tent.