Feel free to not read my ramblings, but the photos are worth a look for something different, at least scroll to the bottom and take a minute to look.
I haven’t posted on here in the longest. I am, quite possibly, the world’s worst blogger! But, I am traveling again and wanted to share some of the experiences that I am fortunate enough to have. My wandering began again in late July. I went to Virginia for a visit with a very close friend, then to CT to see family. I shot out to California for four days to work with a a client and then took a red eye back to CT for two more days before heading back overseas in mid August.
Mom and I went to Scotland (those photos went on FB) and had a great time! We visited Edinburgh, watched the tattoo (truly an event to remember) traveled to the highlands and the islands, saw the Firth of Forth and St Andrews Golf Club and finished in Glasgow, where I got to have a catch up with my good friend, Jodi.
Mom and I finished our trip in London and she left after two days for home, that was the last, and hardest, goodbye. I spent another week in London and got to spend time with two other ex-Saudi expats, Emily and Yvonne.
Early September saw me back in the kingdom, this time in the city of Jeddah. A little background on Jeddah, it is the port of entry for Mecca and Medina, the two holiest of cities. This means that it regularly sees visitors from other countries. As Saudi doesn’t allow tourists, it is a very closed society for the most part. This makes Jeddah seem incredibly relaxed in comparison. The city is MUCH less rigid than Riyadh. My abaya is white, with a print, and doesn’t have fastenings, who would have thought!?! I actually felt funny in it the first few times. It amazes me how quickly humans adapt to cultural changes.
Best part about this city, it is located on the Red Sea and has beaches…with kite surfing!!! So, I spend my weekends in virtually the same fashion as I did at home, kiting or playing volleyball. I forget, at times, that I am in the kingdom, until my fellow kiters come in off the water, pop down a rug and pray at sunset. It is a bit surreal!
Recently I had an opportunity for an interesting new experience. A few friends of mine rave about the food at a local Sudani place. I expressed interest and my friend asked the owner if he would mind if I joined them the next time. Realize that this place only gets male clientele and most of them, according to my friend, haven’t seen an American female in real life. The owner said yes so off we went!
So you can visualize, it is a concrete block structure, with an open top. The weather here has been about 87°F with 60% humidity at 8:30 at night, when we went. They cook over an open fire and have fans going, but it is HOT. Oh, and you sit on the floor, me covered in my abaya (I was asked to wear the closed front one there.)
Anyway, the food comes and it is a cloudy broth, with a chunk of meat in it, bread, three different sauces, ribs and chunks of meat. The meat and ribs are lamb, the sauces are a yogurt based one, a chili based one and lord only knows about the other one. I still don’t know what the soup consisted of but there was some cinnamon in it and it was my favorite part of the meal. Additionally, they make a juice out of hibiscus which was very sweet but had a lovely flavor. I have only had hibiscus as tea so it was interesting to have it as a cold drink.
I was invited to “tour” the cooking area take photos and I snuck a few of some of our fellow clientele. My Saudi friend commented on how many looks I got, he thinks it is due to my being a lady in there but I am not convinced it isn’t because I looked like a dorky tourist! Regardless, at one point, when my Saudi friend popped out to buy water next door, a man approached my other friend (from Singapore, also been in the kingdom for quite a while) and I and welcomed us to Saudi. It was a kind gesture, but a funny moment.
My friend, Shadi, without whom I wouldn’t be having half as much fun here!
Back there is the washing up area, I carry wet wipes so I didn’t make use of it
I tried not to take too many photos of customers as I felt rude, but these give you the idea of the layout and seating arrangements
This was after, at a sheesha and tea place, I look a mess but am still amazed by how much of my clothes are hanging out in public!