Saturday, April 23, 2011


This weekend, the Mister and I lived the compound life. I've made friends with a lady who lives on one of the compounds not too far from our house. She's British and her husband works for a British company. This weekend, they invited us out to celebrate ANZAC Day.

ANZAC Day is an Australia/New Zealand holiday the commemorates the efforts of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) military operation in Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. I'd never heard of this holiday before, but I quickly figured out that it's essentially Australia and New Zealand's version of Memorial Day.

The celebrations were similar to Memorial Day in the States. The day started with a sunrise service commemorating the fallen soldiers. The ceremony was begun with bagpipes, followed by the laying of the wreaths, a reading of "In Flanders Fields", the anthems of both countries, playing of The Last Post on the trumpet and a moment of silence. Those who know me know I'm a total sucker for military heroism, so that combined with my sleep deprivation translated to me crying like a little girl. And I'm not even Australian!

After the ceremony was a true English breakfast: beef sausage, beef bacon, eggs (poached or scrambled), poached tomatoes, and white beans. Well, a true English breakfast probably would have incorporated a little pork, but you gotta work with what you can get. The breakfast was so yummy and made the early wake up totally worth it.

After a post-breakfast nap, it was time for the cookout--another obvious similarity to the American Memorial Day celebrations. This was clearly my favorite part of the day.

I told the Mister after we got home that the whole day felt like we had traveled to another country. This compound does not allow any Saudis through the gates, so we were completely surrounded by British, Scottish, Irish, Australian, New Zealand and American accents all day. We met some really great people, listened to great live music (with some serious Australian accents!) and ate yummy shawarma...hey, the whole day can't be totally Western, now can it!? It was very bizarre to just get in a car and drive back home as opposed to boarding a plane. The whole experience felt that non-Saudi.

I've never envied those who live on compounds until the weekend. This is a really great compound; it was only built a few years ago so everything's fresh and new. The people that live inside the walls were wonderfully welcoming and friendly. We instantly felt welcomed and at home. They indulged the silly Yanks that had never taken part in this tradition and explained the significance of everything in thick Aussie accents.

Compared to the Aramco camp, this is a much more inviting compound. Most of the Aramcons we've met have been perfectly friendly, but the compound is so big, no one knows if you're a newbie or not. This compound is significantly smaller and purely residential, so it's like visiting a small town. Everybody knows everybody and if you're a new face, the locals introduce themselves. It was so great. This is definitely a compound I would not mind living on.

The dancing and eating and fun times continued into the night and I'm happy to say I think the Mister and I have made some great new friends. There's a desert trek in a few weeks that we were invited to and I cannot WAIT to finally get some Saudi sand between my toes!!

Vicariously yours,

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