Beach life, Saudi style

We went to one of the private beaches here today. There are a ton of them, this one was new for me. Some of them feel like fairly normal beaches, some are a bit strange. This one was strange. 

Initially they wouldn’t they us in because we were a group of “singles.” This country likes married people, not single people. Can you imagine that they asked me for my marriage license when my friend and I tried to enter? They said they need it because our last names aren’t the same so how can they know we are married. This stuff drives me demented. I rarely complain about this country but at times it is painful. The name of the beach is the “Intercontinental” but I think “noncontinental” is much more fitting after this idiocy. Anyway, we got around that nonsense and went in. There is ALWAYS a work around here. I love that aspect of the country! 
Along one side of this beach was a Saudi beach area. So a wall was put up along the walkway and then the wall was modified to make as little visibility as possible. So between each barrier they have cut a piece of wood to fit around either the ornamental statuary or the lamp posts that are there! It’s so stupid that you just have to laugh. 


Then along the boardwalk there are man made islands, the first one has become the shisha island and the second one used to be for diving but it is now empty. Out at the end of the walkway, by the open sea, they have covered the original area with the new balcony. So they simply closed off the top of the staircases but everything is still down there. Tables, chairs and bathrooms. It’s bit ghostly but makes a good place to set up fishing equipment. 

We did some snorkeling and fishing. All in all a good day with great people! 

Caught this little guy. He was really pretty, the tail, fins and mouth were a gorgeous turquoise blue color.

This is the walkway that has the silly barricades along it to the right side. 

This is the balcony area out at the end of the walkway. You can see the staircase with no access except climbing over the railing. Then the old infrastructure down underneath the new.

This is the closed dive island

This is more of the underneath area that has been abandoned and covered by the new balcony


This is the pretty new balcony area that we are fishing off of. 

It’s different here…

I am reading a small magazine called “Destination Jeddah” today and one of the articles had me laughing out loud. It is about buying a home and how to make finances work. 

The advice is so simple that it appears to be written for a teenage advice column, but it’s a serious article, written by a businessman, for adults here. See below to read the article.

Geocaching and desert diamonds

This is an old post that I wrote and forgot to publish. This was when I still lived in Riyadh. But, I found it and like some of the photos so I thought I would post even though it is out of date. I am happy to report that I have met great people here in Jeddah who also like to get out on the weekends and play. I have a group of kite-surfers who catch every windy weekend and then another group of friends who I hike or beach with if there isn’t any wind. Below is the old post.

I have met some new adventure people and am getting back out into the desert on the weekends. Even better, one of the guys is a geocacher so I am having a blast hunting down caches with him. So far I have hunted 10 and found nine.  I found peridot crystals at one, desert diamonds at another and fossils at a third. The caches are fun but the best part about them is that they get you out to somewhere that you may never have explored otherwise. We have been to an old fort and also to an abandoned mud house.

Next on my list is to create my own cache.  I have acquired the supplies and have a location in mind, I am hoping to get out there tomorrow to make sure that it is far enough away from another cache that is in the general vicinity. Then I will plant it. I dug out some of the US coins that I had floating around here and am going to start leaving those in the caches. We recently found a travel bug that started in South Wales and has made its way here so that is kind of fun. My friend Bill took that one as he will head home to St. Louis in a few weeks so it will travel to yet another continent. I am hoping to be in the states soon with work and will order some travel bugs if I do. It is fun to see them move around.

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Barn Owls

I met someone a week ago who has a bunch of birds. We started speaking about them the other night and I found out that two of them are owls. So I invited myself over to hold them. 

They are pretty incredible. Their faces look like ghosts and they make a strange hissing sound when they are nervous. They don’t weigh anything, which surprised me and their feathers are really soft and fluffy. There isn’t much bird under there, it’s all feathers. 

Additionally, they have really long, curved and needle sharp talons. I was a little nervous about holding it but it was pretty calm and seemed to like being scratched on the head. 


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Lebanon

​Lebanon has been on my list of places to visit for quite some time now. My friends who have visited rave about it. Additionally, I have some friends who are from there and the love they have for their country is incredible. 
I was supposed to go a few months ago for work and the trip was canceled at the last minute. I was disappointed but, as often happens, things work out for the best. I have a good friend who just took his final exit from Saudi back to Lebanon. I was informed the day before he took his exit that I could travel there the following weekend. So we were able to say “see you later” rather than goodbye. And, with him, I was able to see and do things that I would not have been able to do on my own. So it made the trip an incredible experience! 

I only had a few days there but have already fallen in love with the country. I will be back there two or three times this summer and am already counting down the days. Can’t wait to explore even more of the country.

It reminded me, in many ways, of Italy, as reference for those of you who have been there. But, also has the aspects of the Middle East that I have come to really enjoy. It is similar to Italy in that it has gorgeous beaches on the Mediterranean Sea and mountains covered in green. EVERYTHING grows there (the fresh fruits and vegetables are amazing and flowers, oh my gosh the roses!!!, are everywhere.) Plus they grow grapes and produce wine.

The differences show up in the food (equally delicious, but different) and the culture. People are quite friendly and helpful and things move at a slower pace than in Europe. Plus there are more freedoms in Lebanon (you could read this as fewer laws, I enjoy less government interference so view it as a positive.) 

The country has beautiful architecture in the cities, lots of artwork and the mountains offer some of the most stunning views that I have ever seen. Enough rambling, I think the photos will speak for themselves. Can’t wait to go back!

This is kunafa, one of the most amazing sweets you will ever eat. It is cheese, soaked in sugar syrup. If you ever have the opportunity to try it, say YES!


It got COLD in the mountains for us Saudi dwellers!


This is Raouché, the Pigeon Rocks. They are off of the Western part of Beirut. I’m not certain where the name came from, it doesn’t look remotely pigeon like and wasn’t loaded with birds, either.


This is the center of downtown Beirut. The parliament is here. Must not have been a very impressive building amongst all of the others as I didn’t get a photo of it.


This is a church and a mosque. I like that there is a mix of religions in Lebanon. I think that it adds to the culture exponentially to have different people, cultures and viewpoints. The all muslim thing gets boring after a while.

The next few photos are of the remains of Roman Baths that are in the middle of downtown Beirut. They were preserved and are now surrounded by modern buildings.

 

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The following photos are all of sculptures in the village of Aley. These are done by different artist and the village offers a lot of support to the artists to help make this happen. There are many, many more and each one is unique and beautiful in its own right. I took photos of some of my favorites.


I mentioned the roses earlier…stunning and growing everywhere you look. The color of this one is gorgeous. I love sunset orange.


These stunners are growing in my friend’s yard. His mother has many other lovely roses but this huge bush caught my eye immediately upon entering the yard.In addition to the roses, they have almonds, beans, peaches, artichokes, avocado, plums, and I know that I am missing others.