Saturday, August 10, 2013

Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak, Everyone!  To celebrate the end of Ramadan and the breaking of the fast, Eid is celebrated!  We are lucky that there is a big celebration on our camp so we didn't have to go far to participate in Eid!  We planned to head out abut 6 even though festivities started about 4 due to the humidity but, we were all ready at 5 so we headed out then... and just sweated it out!
The first thing we saw was a group of guys making naan bread that had dates in it ( for the record- I thought it was called non-bread until Brad giggled at my post... that, I'm sure, is just the start of things I'll be misunderstanding).  Yummy.  Excuse the picture.... this is what happens to my camera every time I take it outside.... it takes FOREVER to get accustomed to the humidity and it is impossible to take a picture..... but I didn't want to stand around and wait awkwardly! : )  At this point, we are new and I've heard that Saudis are not fans of having pictures taken so I'm doing my best to keep my camera on the "down low"!
 Next, we head out to walk along the boardwalk to scoop out other things.  So behind the kids is a big outside area at the back of the Surf House and there is a coffee show and apparently a lot of people hang out in this area, especially at night time.  We are still early.... I think a lot of people wait until the sun goes down to come out... can't say I blame them.... so you don't see many people at this point.
 They had 2 huge bouncy slides set up for the kids.  Ethan, being our already "shy" kid who is slower to take on new things, wants to be held and doesn't want to play despite Owen and Addyson's begging.  I think the new faces and experience is a lot for him at this point.  Owen was quick to go down the slide.... Addyson, it took her a couple of times of seeing Owen go down and mingle with the crowd for her to get into the fun.  We stayed here about 30 minutes and ended up running into some other expat families with kids our kids ages.  I didn't know them... but thanks to Facebook... a lot of them already knew me... or at least my name! : )  That has helped some with introductions!   A lot of the families were expecting us! : )  It was nice to see a lot of families that had kids super close in ages to our kids.... there will be plenty of kids for our kids to play with!
 From there, we headed over to the big, white tent we've seen all week.  We weren't sure exactly what was in there but we DID know there was AC!!!!  And we needed to cool off!!!!  Turns out that inside was an area for the kids.  Behind Owen was a stage and they had a group of kids up there playing some sort of "Simon Says" game and they'd get kicked off stage if they did the wrong thing.
 Here we are in the middle of the back area.  You see all of the chairs pointing towards the stage, then on the other side were games for the kids to play and try to win prizes.  This is also where the Muslim kids were collecting their Eid gifts if their families are part of the Aramco association (non-Muslim kids will get a gift from the "visitor from the North" in December so we'll participate in that).
 There were also a few characters walking around... and to Brad and I... the choice of characters or the look of the characters was a bit interesting... here you see what we called "one of the 7 dwarfs" then there were 2 Asian looking characters.... I have NO idea the connection but it seemed a bit strange....maybe we'll soon figure out who these guys are... but for now... we are clueless and the kids were scared.... so that ended our tent experience! : )
 On the way out we let Addyson stop for some tea.... she claims she LOVES tea.... I'm not sure if this is just an Eid thing or not but, outside a lot of places you will find these tea stands that you help yourself to a drink and a date or two.  Also notice the fancy carpet we are walking on... this covered the WHOLE grassy area leading up to the tent and inside the tent!
 Ok, so Addyson likes Ice Tea (although we never give it to her)..... let's see if she likes SUPER hot Saudi tea.....
"What is this????"...... I think that's a "NO!" : )
Of course we had to partake in the traditional "camel ride" along the beach.  Poor camel... it had to stand up and down each time it got a new rider... the animal lover in me wished there was a stand for people to walk up on to make it easy to get on and off the camel without the poor thing sitting and standing each time.  I watched it try to sit down easily with a HUGE saddle on its back carrying 200+ pounds of people on its back.... Poor Camel!!!!
 But, once the camel was up.... the ride was beautiful.  You can't be a Saudi night like this!!
Ethan and Addyson opted for the horsey ride instead of the camel.  This is more their speed!!!
 And Ethan is an animal lover like his mommy... he kept saying "horsey" with a HUGE smile on his face!
Thanks for the ride, horsey!
As we headed back to the main area, it was darker and more crowded.  This is when I really felt out of place.... a couple of things to note......

1) Everyone that was here tonight has to be an Aramco employee which means that the locals understand that expats live here and are more forgiving of what the expats wear and do... I guess what I'm trying to say was that this was a nice way to ease us/ me into the Saudi culture without the feeling of 100s of judging eyes looking at me..... it is a weird feeling to be in the minority... and even more so not knowing exactly what the locals think about Americans/ how we dress/ how we act.... so knowing that the Saudis here were more "understanding" made the first real experience in public much easier on me

2) The kids here are "pushy".... I've heard horror stories about their behavior and the lack of parental guidance in public but those are Brad's stories so I'll save the blog for my first hand stories as they happen.... Anyway, there is really no such thing as lines... or nothing that anyone really pays attention to... so standing in "line" to get a bag of free popcorn or free cotton candy was about enough to do me in... my kids are gonna get "eaten alive" out there... we'll never get to the front of a line... they are not pushy.... so I had to get up there and be pushy for them..... literally.  As I was standing there... SO close to the front.... 5 kids came from behind me, pushed their way through, and called out to the guy at the cotton candy machine that they wanted one.  UGH!!!  So I quickly looked at the guy and said, "No, we are waiting and we need 2!!!" then I looked at the kids and said "No.  Our Turn!"  Its hot, I'm sweating, and done.... and don't have patience to wait as we keep getting passed up for little kids pushing through..... and thankfully, the guy handed me my 2 cotton candy sticks next and we were out of there!
Happy kids with cotton candy and popcorn.... and a happy mom to have that line experience behind me!!!!
 The last big thing of the evening.... well our evening since we headed home after this but I think the partied continued for hours longer.... we having a group of men do a traditional Saudi dance like they do a big celebrations such as weddings.  They lined up with their drums and swords and "marched" in chanting/singing.  It was really neat to watch.
 As we sat in the audience I noticed that there were women and children sitting and watching but I didn't notice any of the husbands sitting with their wives.  I'm not sure if this is a common thing (sort of like how there is no PDA) or if I should assume that the men were not in the audience because they were up on stage.
I sat next to a super sweet Saudi girl in the audience who is getting ready to go to University in Texas.  She was very open and was asking why would I want to live in Saudi... she is excited to live in the US and can't imagine why anyone would want to leave there to move here.... since she was so open I started to ask her questions about how women dress and why did some women have their faces covered (some leave their eyes uncovered and some even cover their eyes... these women also tend to wear gloves on their hands).  She explained that some women think  it is important to cover up everything even though it states in the Koran that you should cover your body and hair.  So my guess is that it is just like we have different levels of religion in the US with some taking it to the extreme.... the same is true here.  This sweet girl said she doesn't like the "hijab" (this refers to any face, head, or body covering).  She said what you believe is in your heart and not what you wear.  She also said that some wear the hijab but don't believe it and that isn't right either!  She explained that her mom was very supportive of her decision to not wear the hijab but her mom does cover up and that it took her dad some time to get use to her decision but is not supportive.  It was SO nice to get a perspective of a young girl and to give me a bit of insight to the differences in dress of the Saudi women.
Now that my mini hijab lesson was over, we were ready to cool off.  We were hoping to head over to the splash pad behind the stage but they had closed that off for the night.... instead we had to cool off with this SUPER yummy mint lemonade that they make at the coffee shop on camp.... I think this will be my new addiction!!!!!  I better learn how to make this at home... once I start cooking again!
 I thought we were done and ready to head home... but Owen wanted to go back to the tent to try to win a prize... he didn't win a prize the first time he played the games... they were really hard games.... so he wanted to give it another try.  While Addyson and I were waiting, Addyson got her first henna tattoo!!!!  The first time we were in the tent she was a little unsure of the tattoo experience but at the end decided to give it a try.
 Showing off her henna..... I find this quit interesting but see how the lady gave Addyson a ring on her ring finger.... I wonder what the thought was behind that.......
 Wow, what a first real Saudi experience to get to experience one of their biggest holidays with them!!!  As we were leaving the festival, the kids got a ticket for an Eid gift (different than the wrapped gift the Muslim kids were getting) so we took those gifts home to open after bath.  By chance we happened to get one boy and one girl gift... it was perfect and a great ending to our fun night!!!! Goodnight from Saudi and  Eid Mubarak, Everyone!

1 comment:

dave and jenn said...

Reading all of this is just fascinating!