My mom is here visiting for a couple weeks over the holidays, and I wanted to share her perspective on this crazy place with you! Enjoy!
I am having an awesome time – of course, just because I am with the kids and grandkids, it would be awesome anywhere! But, this is a very interesting culture. Very friendly, helpful, loving people… at least superficially. I don’t know what they are really thinking or saying! LOL!
Stephen is working Christmas day… same day as all the others over here – although, what I found interesting was that EVERYONE wished me a “Merry Christmas”! And I always returned the greeting! :) The Christmas dinner went quite well! There were two other families here, each with two children. So we had 7 adults and 6 kids ranging in age from 9 months to 9 years in Kelsie and Stephen’s apartment. Stephen had deep fried 3 turkeys the night before and we made mashed potatoes, gravy, and 5 different kinds of cookies/treats and the other families brought a broccoli dish, a squash dish, cooked carrots, rolls, and cranberry salad. It was all soooo good!
We still haven’t opened presents with the kids because Stephen has been working and will be off Friday and Saturday. We will have our Christmas on Friday when he has off. We will also be doing some sightseeing those two days. Even though Saudi really discourages tourism, there are some things of interest.
This morning Kelsie, the kids, and I went (on the little bus) to the grocery store. Fairly simple. The bus arrives at THIS time… you are on it or you miss the grocery store. The kids HAVE to be seat belted, so you have to find a seat that has a seat belt that actually works. The adults-no problem-doesn’t matter… LOL! This is THE grocery store bus that the grocery store sends to the compound to pick up customers! I think my Giant at home should start this service. The bus drops you off at the door, picks you up at the door, baggers load the groceries on the bus, the bus driver drops you off at your door at home and unloads your groceries! Wow! Not all of life is that easy over here. LOL! The grocery store had many familiar items in it and many that said “imported from USA”, but were actually products made in some other country…. funny! I got some Arabic coffee and some Arabic pastries to bring home. I forget to take my phone and take photos, but there was a sign that said no photos. There were lots of security cameras, though. It was a somewhat normal grocery store except for the pricing was all in SARs (Saudi Arabian Riyals)
Stephen will work until 4PM today, and when he gets off today, we will have dinner here at their apartment with a friend, Dean Sweigart, from Elizabethtown, PA!! Haha – on the other side of the world – someone from my country, state, county, town!!
An interesting thing here is that this compound has a wall about 12′ high. To get in the gate, each vehicle (bus, private car, company truck, taxi) has to stop at the first guard house. A guard comes out with a mirror on a long wand to walk around the vehicle and look underneath, nod approval, and then open this HUGE 12′ solid steel gate. On to the next guard house…. They check to see if you are supposed to be on this compound and then they open a second 12′ solid steel gate.
When they have the call to prayer, one of the girls here said it sounds like zombies… it really does, and it happens 5 or 6 times a day.
If I have some details wrong, Stephen and Kelsie can correct the misinformation! LOL