The store on camp is good, I mean, I can't complain... it has served us well these past 2 weeks! However, there isn't a huge fresh fruit and veggie selection and what is there is kind of expensive. We kept hearing about the fruit stands in Rahima (the town right outside out gate) so we decided to make a small outing tonight to find the fruit stand and take care of some other items. Driving through town, while small and easier to navigate than Khobar (the large town 45 minutes away we've been going to), it is still overwhelming. Some stores have the name written in Arabic AND English so it makes it easy to figure out what it is... others are only written in Arabic so you have to try to look through windows to try to find what you are looking for while trying to maintain a decent speed that doesn't get you honked at or passed. Thankfully the fruit stand was easy to spot!
We walked in and were a bit overwhelmed at it all. Surrounded by SO many fruits and veggies and then it took us a minute to figure out how it worked. The guys in the white (not uniforms... this is traditional dress for Saudi men) work there and you have one that helps you the whole time. You point out to him what you want... like 6 apples... and then he picks out 6 of the best apples for you, puts them in a bag, and then puts them in a pile on the floor... that is our pile in front of the box of dates. It is a bit much because Brad is calling out, I'm calling out, and the kids are calling out... I couldn't keep it all straight but somehow our guy did!!!!
The guys working were SO friendly... I asked permission to take pictures and they were excited about the idea. I have noticed lately that there are social differences between the younger and older generations!!! I am noticing more younger couples holding hands and younger dads helping out. The younger ones (and some older) also are very friendly to the kids and I...I've actually been pleasantly surprised! The other thing is kids are really valued here and taken care of. (I've been told if I want something to blame it on the kids and I'll get what I want much quicker!) Our guy noticed the kids eyeing the bananas so he told his friend to give each of the kids one. That helped quiet our brood down so we could finish up!
The next step is to weight out all of our goods on this little table scale and it is all added up on the calculator... the catch... there are NO prices anywhere... and you have no idea what you are being charged as you go. The good thing... there are no prices and what I've noticed that the more you make "friends" with the people... or the more "wasta" you have... meaning the back slapping/ friend talk you do... the better price you get!!! By the end of our time here we had ended up with a discounted price, a thing of fresh herbs thrown in, and then a huge bunch of bananas thrown in at the end! I think the trick is going to be going back to the same market every time and greeting our "friend" every time as soon as we go in and we'll end up with the "best price" every time (and the reason I put these words in quotation is because these are actually the words that are used a lot when dealing with people and transactions.
The plan was to get a zipper on my abaya, find a rug, eat dinner, and head back to camp but it was hot and the heat and humidity makes the fruit and veggies ripen SO fast so we opted to get dinner, drop my abaya off, and head back to camp. We were looking for schwarma and found this place that looked good... see the meat cooking over coals in the window... not every place cooks their meat over the coals.... so we stopped in.... actually Brad went in first... we've learned our lesson... Brad goes in first to see if it is a "family" restaurant or "bachelors only"... and turns out this place was bachelors only so he got the schwarma to go and we took it home to eat! Kind of frustrating that the kids and I wait in the car but probably for the best... this place was a traditional place where you sit on the floor to eat... and I'd rather eat at my clean kitchen table than the floor! : )
Look at this yummy loot!!! This cost us about $38!
Interesting story- I dropped off my abaya to get a zipper when there were so new teachers buying abayas for themselves so the guy thought I was with them and buying mine new (even though he wa the one that sold it to me last week... but I'm sure to them... we all look alike... like they all look alike to us ; ) ) so he tried to charge me 150sr (about another $38) to buy my abaya again!! He doesn't speak any English so I was having the HARDEST time trying to tell him I already paid (this was after I went back and the teachers were gone so they couldn't vouch for me). The hard thing here is everyone deals in cash and you rarely get receipts for your purchase so I had NOTHING to prove I'd already paid. SO frustrating. I had an hour to think about what to do as I waited for him to sew the zipper.... when I was home I pulled up my blog post about the abaya shopping on my iPad and I took it in to show him... Brad thought I was crazy.... but it worked!!!! While the date and words on the blog made no sense to him, the picture was worth 1,000 words... and 150sr! :) He saw me with my kids in his store and realized I wasn't with the teachers so he didn't make me pay again! Whew! I am learning that with a language barrier you will try anything and everything- pointing, signing, dancing, pictures to get your point across!!!! I guess this blog is good for something after all!! : )
After picking up my abaya, we tried to run some more errands since we were out anyway. First two stops at the carpet stores were a success.... well we were able to narrow things down.... that helps.... so we decided to head to one last store that was next to a Baskin Robins to get the kids a treat for being so good... and to cool us off... we were SO hot.... but we showed up at prayer time, UGH!!!! So we waited.... and waited... the shop owners were sitting outside waiting too... I DON'T get it... the employees are there... not praying... so why close?!?! Seriously, this is one thing that really boggles my mind. Anyway, we were getting hot so we decided to wait in the car... all of us in the front seat with the ac blowing on us... and we waited... and waited... then I gave up! Seriously! This is crazy! So back home we went and promised the kids ice cream another day! Besides, we had TONS of yummy fruit to eat at home so that's exactly what we ate, in the comfort of our air conditioned home, without having to wear an abaya... perfect ending to our shopping trip!