A plague of locusts.

A regular event in my childhood was the Sunday mornings spent at church and Sunday School. So before coming to the Middle East my idea of this part of the world was based on the impressions I had made from reading the Bible. Stories such as Joseph and his coat of many colours and John the Baptist’s time in the ‘wilderness’ were brought back into mind this last weekend when I took a trip in the nearby desert.
The area of massive rock structures, sand dunes, sparse trees and after the recent winter rain bushes and desert flowers has a certain beauty and wildness about it. Initially, it seems there is very little wildlife about, but if you take the time to stop and listen and watch it becomes apparent that you are not as alone as you thought. I have been amazed at the different birds we have spotted on different trips but one bird always seems to be about- the raven- friend to John the Baptist, bringing him food when he was alone in the wilderness and there was nothing for him to eat.
On the way home I spotted 2 birds of prey and we pulled off the road to get a closer look. However, something else caught my husband’s eye- the ground was alive with small hopping things! We stopped and were amazed to find they were hundreds of baby locusts! They were only about 1-2 cm. long and I imagine they had only hatched out and would technically be called ‘hoppers’.

A few weeks ago we had travelled 150km further south and while exploring the desert there had driven through a couple of swarms of yellow locusts – I’d never seen yellow ones before!

Soon after that I read in the newspaper that Saudi Arabia was to experience plagues of locusts after the recent rains.

However, unlike the Egyptians in the story of Joseph, many local people are happy for there to be an abundance of locusts. That is because locusts are regarded as a delicacy and can be found for sale in the market.
So, thousands of years after the events in the bible are supposed to have happened I find my local surroundings could still provide a backdrop to them which appears virtually unchanged by the passing of time.


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