Not sure if I mentioned this in my last blog or not, but, plans changed again and I’m going to Tabuk! I’m happy about that =) Two British teachers for Al Khaleej came to visit for the weekend from Ha’il, and I drilled them about all the schools and compounds. They said Tabuk had a nice compound, and the city is like a mini Riyadh. They said I’ll be really happy there, especially since I’m closer to the ocean and the borders of other countries. Talking to them made me feel a lot better. They seem happy, and satisfied with the company—they’ve been with Khaleej for a year—although they did say that the longer you stay in Saudi the nuttier you get…. Haha.
I met a new teacher (another Egyptian) who gave me some food to try that she brought from home. It tasted like pastry bread, and at first I didn’t really like it (tasted plain), but the more I ate the more addicting it became. She offered me cheese to go with it, which looked curdled, and when I smelled it I knew immediately that I probably wouldn’t like it, but I tried.. It was very sour, like Feta cheese that was left out in the sun for a few days. No good!!!! Then we had some rice and chicken, but the insides of the chicken (intestine and liver) were served nicely on the platter too. Really freaked me out. There was also a green pepper, which I thought was a sweet green pepper because I asked her if it tasted sweet and she said yes. Excited for something normal, I took a big bite…. Yeap! Not sweet at all…. It was most definitely a hot chili pepper. I immediately started coughing, tears rolled down my cheek, and I ran to the fridge for water. She laughed and laughed as I tried to regain myself. I couldn’t eat anymore. She decided to lay down and take a nap after lunch, so I went downstairs and chatted with Ahmed.
Ahmed and I made plans to meet up at midnight for a tutoring session, and also for the following night to see a new place in Riyadh. After hanging with him, Amir finally showed up to the hotel…. And Guess what he showed up with? A NEW PHONE!!! FOR ME!!!! And not just any phone, but an awesome Nexus 4, which is just like the Iphone =) SCORE!!! I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. It’s so incredibly nice of him to do that for me. After we played with our phones and got it all set up, we went out to the pool for a BBQ with both Mohammads, and had chicken and beef, hummus, and salad. Delicious! A new teacher from the states (Tracy, from Seattle, Washington) arrived, so I brought her downstairs to join us and introduced to her everyone; she fit right in. We stayed by the pool for a good minute, and then went inside to tutor Ahmed. After about an hour of tutoring, we called it a night. It was a long day full of surprises!
Thursday (which is the start of our weekend, like Saturday), we had breakfast with Ahmed and Mohammed at the croissant shop across the street, and then afterwards I went for a drive with Amir to Tamimi (a grocery store known for having all sorts of American brands), and then we went to Wadifa, which is an area outside the city where palaces and really nice homes are. It was a nice scenic drive, and gave me the chance to see what was outside the city—mostly just desert and beautiful homes Lol. At around two, Tracy and I caught a cab and went to the mall. I thought I would think it was weird walking around the mall with everyone wearing black and white, and the women’s faces being covered, but it really wasn’t strange at all. I’m not sure if I’m just accustomed to the culture already, or if it’s natural, but I didn’t mind it at all. No culture shock. We actually went to two malls because they were beside each other; the malls are incredible: shopping paradise!!! They have every store you can imagine, and some of the shops have the most beautiful dresses I’ve ever seen. I don’t know where I would even wear them to, but I want one! I tried to find a new abaya for myself, but I didn’t have much like. They were either too expensive for what I was wanted to pay, or just not my style (yes, these black dresses have style!!!). We stayed at the mall until about 5:30, and then headed back to the hotel to meet Ahmed.
He took us to a park in South Riyadh. It is called Salaam Park. It was after dark, but everything was lit up; kids were playing on the playgrounds, families were sitting on blankets eating and chatting, there were carnival rides, a small lake/pond with motor boats, and live entertainment for the kids. It was really something special. I ran around with Ahmed’s kids and played tag; we played on the swings and slides; and we tried some new food (of course) and had coffee. Ahmed’s wife is so kind. She can barely speak English, but she did everything she could to make us feel welcome and to get to know us better. It was probably the best night I had all week. Nothing makes me happier than playing with kids and feeling like I’m part of a family, especially one as gracious as Amhed’s. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by good people, and he’ll be a friend I never lose contact with.
I came home, exhausted, showered and went to bed. Another long day.
Today, I woke up in a bit of a slump, but got ready for yet another BBQ by the pool.
Not sure why the slump, probably because my bed feels like a hard floor so I don’t sleep that well… who knows. I want to go to Tabuk already!!! I mean I love Riyadh and my friends here, but trying to find patience and enjoying my time off is killing me…and I feel like I’m getting settled into my life here in Riyadh, and Riyadh isn’t where I’ll be calling home for the next 10 months. This is not how I operate… I’m so used to just going and getting things done. I want to teach already! I don’t like waiting on other people, or just waiting at all… LOL. I’m shaking my head at myself and chuckling. I reread what I’m saying and a part of me just thinks I sound crazy. I should really stop worrying and overanalyzing the situation. I’m incredibly lucky. I’m very much enjoying my time here, and it really doesn’t even seem weird that I’m in another country. My friends here have already made me feel like this is a place I could call home if I wanted… which is strange in a way. I’ve only been here a week, but it feels like months, as if I’ve been doing this all along. (Don’t worry, I still miss all you crazy people back home in the states!!! ❤ )
Inshallah. I do hope Saudi teaches me some much needed patience.
I downloaded an app on my phone t help me learn Arabic. I’m going to try to be fluent (or at least semi-fluent) by summer. Everyone says it’s easy to learn, but we’ll see. I bought an Abaya today with yellow/pink embroidery. It’s pretty. I’ll be sure to post a pic of me in it soon! Not much else to report… Hopefully tomorrow—the start of the work week—I’ll have more news.
Amir and his friend are supposed to be stopping by later for the radio interview… that’ll be neat… other than that I’m just going to cool it. Relax and listen to my music. Maybe teach myself some Arabic. J