A Rest(ish) Area in Saudi Arabia

It was a long ride home from Mada’in Saleh.  We had taken two days to drive there, but we decided to make the return trip in one day. Some hours after what we told the kids would be our last potty break, Grace said she needed to pee. Halen seconded her.

Potty breaks are easily the worst aspect of road tripping in the Middle East. Going on four years living in various countries in the region, I’m still undecided whether it’s worse to pee along the side of the road or in an actual restroom (or an actual excuse for a restroom). I personally have evolved a voluminous bladder so that I don’t have to ponder on that dilemma very often. My children unfortunately inherited Joey's blunder--I mean bladder.

We found this crazy dried mud at one of our rest stops.
Joey slowed the car from our 95-mile-an-hour cruising speed and pulled off the side of the road. To avoid drawing attention, he shut off the car lights too.

“Where are we?” Grace asked tremulously as she stepped out of the car.

“Oh, this is the middle of absolutely nowhere,” I assured her. “You get to pee on the other side of the front door of the car. Come here, sweetie.”

I’ve finally figured out how to help my daughters pee al naturale without soaking themselves and me. Grace is a champ at this method, which involves looking up at the sky while I hold her hands to keep her from falling backwards. "Wow," she said.

"I know--you really did need to pee, didn't you, honey?"

"No, not that, Mommy," she said, rolling her eyes (at least that's what I guessed she was doing in the near total darkness). "Look!" Grace intoned, pointing upward.

"Oh, wow!" I smiled. “Grace, that’s what stars look like when you’re in the middle of absolutely nowhere.” We all stood there gazing at them for the longest time.

It was one of those moments where the age difference between parents and children suddenly becomes insignificant, and all of us feel like equally awestruck juveniles. It was real joy.