Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Another Day of Adventure

 Today was full of "fun"... better yet, it was full of adventure!  The mornings have been nice, I get to sleep in while Brad gets up with the kids and makes my coffee.  That all changes tomorrow because he goes back to work after taking a week off.  Now it is time for the kids and I to immerse ourselves in camp life as a mom with kids and a working spouse... no more paling around with Brad all day long.  The kids have been great at entertaining themselves at our house.  The space is nice.... have I mentioned that a time or two?!?! : )  They not only play a lot inside but, they also play a lot outside in our screened in porch area (that Brad had added on before we got here) and our grassy backyard.  It is humid and they are sweating but they don't seem to mind.  They set up our dinning room chairs in our porch area as a seating area for their "bird show"... I think the idea came from a visit to Grant's Farm in July.  We have sprinklers that go off in the morning and the water attracts the birds.... we also put out crumbs to attract more birds... and as the birds fly down we are to watch them... and this makes up the "bird show".  This morning we got a special treat... a new birdie came to visit... an Eurasian Hoopoe.  That was the highlight of our morning!!!  We had to look it up online and learn all about it!
Then the plan was to head out early to go car shopping.  I was hoping since the holiday was over people would be at work and the roads would be less crazy... but that wasn't really the case... I think it is crazy 24/7 just like any big town back home.  Today I decided to take some pictures so you could see a little how it is... however, pictures are nothing like the feeling in real life as you see someone passing you on the left next to the brick wall or the lack of lanes and trying to stay out of people's way but not really knowing where to go or the lanes that disappear without notice and you have to figure out where to go next.  It's crazy.  Texting and driving is bad and people are constantly veering into one lane or the other so you really have to be on your game while driving.
Why is it so bad?  Not sure.  Culture maybe?  Is the government doing something about it?  Sort of.  See this car with the hood opened?  Well it is a radar car.  They are set up along the highway with no one in them and it takes pictures of speeders.  The problem?  They are stationary and always there... so I'm sure the speeders know when to slow down.  There was a problem with these cars in the beginning and people hated them and were trying to destroy them... so now they have bullet proof class so people can bust out the windows!  We see polic cars... we are actually driving with them in this mess and that doesn't make anyone drive any differently like it would back home.  We also see police cars set up in with their flashing lights on... but I haven't figured out exactly what they are doing... because again, no one drives any differently.  Maybe I just need to look at driving as if I were navigating a video game race game with Brad.... maybe that would make it more fun and less stressful... I've got to figure something out!
Today, my reward for venturing out was a stop at Starbucks!!! : )  They make these great mugs and I want to start collecting them as we travel (I have some from my trip to Puerto Rico) and I wanted to start today!  Plus a white mocha sounded really good!!  This was also our first experience with entering through the wrong door!  We saw the "family entrance" but we couldn't get the door to open so we went through the main door... we were quickly told we entered through the wrong door and to go to the other entrance... our entrance is under the Arabic lettering.  Our side is smaller and it is separated from the "men's side" by a make shift wall inside.  Interesting!
 Addyson standing in front of the "family entrance" sign at Chili's
Our mail goal of our outing today was to go car shopping.  That didn't really go as planned.  One dealership was closed because of the holiday.  The other one, I didn't get to go into because Ethan had just fallen asleep.  The next one,we were told to come back in the evening during "family time".  And that was the end of our car shopping experience.  I was kind of tired of looking for dealers and navigating the crazy busy street.  The kids and I were tired of being in the car and ready to get OUT.  So we headed to the Corniche (boardwalk area) and found a Chili's.  So, needless to say, we were going home today without a car... which I was totally fine with... at this point!
 I'm a fan of embracing the culture and food of a place you visit... but since we are living here I give ourselves some passes to also indulge in a taste from home.  We are HUGE fans of chips and salsa and Chili's has their bottomless bowl... that includes a bag of chips and bowl of salsa to take home... which was our motivator to go since tortilla chips are hard to find here!!!  Again, we were seated in the family area... which is always through a difference entrance and the entrance doesn't seem to be the "Main" entrance.
I had noticed a bunch of green fold up screens in a pile and couldn't figure out what they were for... I soon found out.  The ladies that cover their faces have to/ choose to eat with their faces covered.  I've noticed that some of them try to sit at tables that have a wall behind it and they'll sit at that table facing the wall and will lift their veil to eat that way no one passes by them to see their face.  This table asked for a partition so they could lift their veils to eat... well the lady closest to me kept her face covered and I think it was because she knew we could see her.... the lady to her right lifted her veil to eat.  I find it awesome that some restaurants are accommodating and have these partitions for the ladies to use!
As we were leaving we noticed that a wall was put up behind us and the door closed.... and a sign put up "Prayer Time, we are closed".  I've heard that you have to time your outings around prayer time and it is SO true!  If we were in the restaurant and eating we could have stayed... but they won't let you in and they don't wait on your during prayer time!!!
More road closing, construction, signs we can't read... it is unending... and I'm wondering if things are under constant construction... or if the madness eventually ends.... I'm thinking it is a constant thing.... only time will tell!!!
I was asked if the abayas have to be all black.  The ones worn by the Saudi women (and some other countries) are all black.  You can find ones with some color on them... like some blue ribbing or color lace but I'd say 98-99% of the abaya is black with color or lace being a minimal addition.  Other Muslim countries have different dress codes/ policies but I can't speak for all of those... I also should say that I am in NO WAYS an expert on anything I mention on this blog... everything I say comes from my perspective, things I observe, and questions I ask... so please do not hold me to anything as the truth... I'm just telling about my experiences from my eyes so take it as that and enjoy!  Also, feel free to ask questions and I'll try to answer them the best I can!
On the way home... we ended up driving by the mall we had such a hard time finding the other day!  It was crazy... wrong turns, struggling with the GPS (why we can't get it to work I have NO idea.... but I think expats like to buy used GPSs because people will eventually get to their destination and then mark it in the GPS as a main point which makes it easier to find the next time.... the GPS we are using doesn't have our destinations points on their which is what is making this so hard), going further out of our way... whatever, at that point I was happy to see a familiar landmark and know where we were and what we needed to do to get home!
And this is what our drive looks like.  There are open areas of sand... and a lot of rubble and trash... I'm actually surprised by the amount of litter I see along our drive.... TONS of it.... I think it is seen as such a HUGE problem that they don't even know where to start.  It is kind of sad!
After a huge open area, you'll see a town... and it seems as if every town is under construction.  Are they building bigger?  Building new?  A building under construction but never finished?  I have no idea. But it seems like EVERYTHING... homes, business, roads... its all under construction!
 See the white car on the left passing on the shoulder next to the wall.... the 4 "lanes" of traffic on a "3 lane" highway... and here we are lucky enough to be able to see the lane markers... these are not visible at all points along our drive.  It's crazy.  And about at this point I saw an Aramco bus... a nice, big, air conditioned, comfortable ride into town that is provided by Brad's work and I thought... hey, maybe it isn't so bad we didn't get a car today.... maybe taking the bus is the way to go.. at least for now.... I need to ease myself into ALL of this.... so we are back to the drawing board as to what to do for a mode of transportation.
A beautiful beachy area with turquoise blue water we pass right before turning off to go towards our camp.
In reality, camp life is great... and we JUST got here.... we are about 6 hours shy of being here a full week and we've already made 2 trips into Khobar.  I think that Brad going back to work will be good for us... we just need to relax and finish adjusting.  A trip or two on the bus with someone driving who knows where they are going will probably be good for us.  It will be a non-stressful way to get to know our way around the surrounding areas.  Besides, didn't we move here to have a less stressful way of life?!?!  I know there will be times I'm probably begging to get out of camp... but right now.... I'm not there.
Heck, we haven't even explore all of camp yet!!!  Look at this awesome splash pad next to the beach we played out tonight!!!!  Evenings are great here!!!  The sun starts setting about 6:30ish, it cools off, and people come out!  This is where we need to be right now... not driving down the crazy highway trying to find our way to some mall... that's not why we are here!!!
THIS is why we are here!!!!
 What a week it has been.  Life will start to change and we will start to get a schedule as Brad starts back to work tomorrow and the kids start school September 1.  We will also start to meet more families as we explore camp more and as families start to come back from summer holidays.  I'm sure having friends here will help us fight the urge to get off camp... we'll have everything we need right here!!!

ps- excuse the constant pony tail I'm sporting these days... the salt water I shower in and the heat and humidity doesn't really help in the hair department!  Also, you'll notice the lack of make-up... I have started to not even mess with it... I end up sweating it off before the day is over.. which is funny to me because some of the Saudi women are SO done up... I have NO idea how they wear all that make-up and keep it on ALL day... and under their abayas they are wearing long sleeve shirts and pants so I know they have to be hotter than I am.... because I'm wearing a tank top or tshirt and shorts under mine... which also means you'll probably start to see me in "less than dressy" clothes since the abaya is an excuse for me to not have to get dressed up!!! : )

Okay, that about sums up our day... another day of adventure in Saudi!  Thanks for following!

1 comment:

Bonnie King said...

This is so fascinating, Ambre! Loving your updates!