Sunday, November 29, 2015

Becky's Trip to the Desert

When I knew my sister had her visa and would be able to come visit us in Saudi Arabia, I started planning a trip to the desert!  EVERY visitor has to go experience the desert, the vastness, the wandering camels, and the beauty that surrounds you in the middle of nowhere!
In my mind, I really wanted to take her to the spot where we go digging for sand roses so I tried to put a caravan together.  See, it is never a great idea to go out in the desert by yourself!  If you have any kind of car troubles you are STUCK!  Due to it being a busy time of year, no other families were able to go with us.  I was bummed!  Now, insert the lesson I have been trying to learn/ work on..... things my not go according to my plan/idea but it always seems to work out PERFECT, our perfect!
So the goal changed to just finding camels.  We knew we had seen some camels on the way to the airport and that several Saudis use that area as a day time/ night time camping area.  Meaning, that if we got stuck there would be folks that could help us!
So out we went, this was after a FULL morning on camp with Owen giving TeeTee a bike tour of camp, playing tennis with the kids and Brad, eating lunch at the Golf Shack, and having  a nap.  Right away we found camels!!!  Yay!  Due to a fear of MERS- Brad didn't want us getting to close to the camels but that was a bit hard to control.  As soon as we got out of the car, the camels came walking over!
After the obligatory photos with camels we took at tour around.  In this area are day camps (people often spend the night in these on the weekends and also camel camps where Saudis often hire an employee to live in the camp and take care of their animals.
As we were driving around I was secretly hoping that we would get invited in!  My family was able to have an authentic bedouin camp experience 2 years ago and I was hoping to give my sister a taste of it!  And we ended up being SO lucky!  As we drove by this camp, the guys sitting outside by the fire waved and then told us to stop!  So we did!  Why not?!?!  We love to embrace the adventure!

As soon as we walked up to camp, Becky and I were escorted to the women's area of the camp that is surrounded by a "wall".  The women were so excited to see us and welcomed us in right away!

They didn't know us (they weren't even expecting guests) and we didn't know them but they invited us right away to have a seat on the outside couches and we started to get to know each other.  One of the ladies spoke the best English so she was the translator for the group!
They are very proud of their camp and told us to look around and take pictures!!  So we did!  Here is half of the kitchen tent!  The other half is STOCKED with veggies and HUGE bags of rice!  They have invited us back for dinner and to spend the night!
Here is the sleeping tent. They were very proud to show that this one had a tv in it!  So to sleep, the women and children sleep here and they just line up on the ground and cover with a blanket!
Here is the outside lounging area!  They had some couches and they also had the cement wall that had a build in couch.  This is the best picture we got with some of the women in it!
Saudis are very generous people and want to share everything.  It didn't take long for them to offer us coffee, tea, other drinks, and snacks!  We were on our way to eat dinner so we just had some coffee to share.  I do want to go visit them again and bring them a taste of some American sweets!  Before we left they got out their handheld drums of us to play (we also had Addyson and Ethan with us) which they sang/chanted in Arabic.  It was an amazing experience!  While we could not take pictures of them, they took several pictures and videos of us!  If they took a selfie with us they would only show their mouth in the picture!  It was really interesting to watch how they wanted to being in pictures with us and how they handle that!  After 45 minutes of visiting we said our GoodByes and headed out!  WOW, what an adventure!
From there,w we drove another 30 minutes and headed to Khobar, a major city, and went to eat at the restaurant Heritage Village.  When you first walk in the area you are taken to a sitting area for coffee and dates.
Here our coffee is being made.

Dates are served
Coffee is poured
And when we are all done, we are escorted through the restaurant to our private dinning room.

In our private room we sit on the floor (they give Westerners a small table for the floor) and we eat with our hands!!  SO many yummy things to choose from!
After the feed fest, we are all done!!!  What a great meal and an epic afternoon!!  It was so great to sit back and re-tell the amazing adventure we had just been on from start to finish!!
I had to say, I am SO proud how my family is so good at going out to seek out adventure and opportunities and we make the most of them!  Because of that, we were able to show my sister a real-life Saudi family at their camp carrying on with their usual weekend routine!  What an adventure we are on!

Rain Gutter Regatta

 It was time for the first big Cub Scout event of the year, the Rain Gutter Regatta!
 This fell at a really crazy time for us but the boys were able to get their boats made and designed in time!  And  yes, Ethan HAD to have one too!!!  Not many Cub Scout functions can happen without Ethan being a part of it!  Ethan's is the red one!  Owen's is the white with red dots which he named Raining Blood!
 Room full of Scouts and their families
 Our surprise guest, TeeTee, made it just in time for this fun event!
 This little guy has been called my Pre-Tiger and he was happy with that.  However, today he found the Wolf hat and scarf so he has moved himself up and is now a pre-wolf!  He is SO ready to be a scout and it makes me sad that he has 3 more years left!  I hope he still loves Scouts as much then when it REALLY IS his time to be involved!
 We were entertaining ourselves as the other dens raced!  The room in the school we held the function in is kind of small and I wanted the families of the racers to able to see so we hung back..... and took TONS of pics!!!
 Now it was O's time to race!!  He first went up against his best bud Evan!
 It was a close race and Owen ended up winning in the very end by the front tip of the boat!!!
 And the fun continued!

 He had a powerful breath and a fast boat!  He ended up winning first place in his den!
 This guy had the hardest time waiting for the sibling division!!!
 What a winning smile!
 A funny little thing, Owen would get his boat to the end and win but he was afraid that we wouldn't see or something so he kept blowing his boat to keep it touching the finish line until the other boy finished!  I was afraid he was going to pass out from all of the huffing and puffing so I had to step in to tell he once his boat touched he had won and he could stop! : )

 Now it was Ethan's turn!!  He raced against Evan!!
 For some reason, halfway through Addyson took over Ethan's boat.
 Ethan got the boat back and raced TeeTee!

 Ethan wins the race!!!!

After the individual den races were over, the winners from those heats then raced each other to get the Regatta's overall winner!
 Owen was up against some tough competition!!!  He did great!  He won over half of his races!!!
Our winner!  He got 4th overall and 1st place in his den!!  For that, he got a new Cub Scout shirt!!!  What a happy guy!!!  Now we have to get ready for the Pine Wood Derby!