Sunday, October 31, 2010

i have no idea what time, day, or year it is.

There have been a lot of changes in a short amount of time for us here in Saudi. We've written about a lot of them: religious environment, cultural quirks, etc. But one of the things that's giving me a lot of trouble recently is the change in schedule. You may think that this is a minor issue, but when things get turned around like they are here (in comparison to our normal American style schedule) you get a little lost.

As you may or may not be aware, the work week in Saudi Arabia begins on Saturday and runs to Wednesday. That means that our weekend is Thursday and Friday. Now that sounds simple enough, but think about this. My entire life, I have understood what happens on the weekend sounds roughly like this: sleep in Saturday as late as possible, football in the afternoon, maybe do something that night...wake up Sunday, go to church (most of the time), eat lunch, football/golf (depending on whose house and when...I'm lookin' at you, Dad), and then frantically work on things for school the next day. In Saudi, things don't quite work that way. Everything is pushed to Thursday and Friday. However, one of the things that doesn't change is the football. College football games are still on Saturday and pro football games are still on Sunday and Monday. This means I'm getting football scores and updates on workdays. I hadn't realized it until I got here, but I've been using this as my signal for the weekend for awhile so I'm confused when I'm working and wondering if my fantasy team is doing okay...or if Auburn's hard. More importantly, I have to wait until Saturday and Sunday to talk to my family or anyone in the US. This is because of my next point...

We are EIGHT hours ahead of Nashville, TN. That means as I type this, it's 7:23 pm on Sunday night in Dammam, but it's 11:23 am in Nashville. So I end up getting the scores, news, and things that are happening in the states the day after. This becomes confusing when say--I don't know--trying to talk to your grandmother on her birthday around 9 pm her time. That means you have to be up at 5 am to talk. Realistically the only time I could talk to my family and friends on skype or gchat would be during their weekend...but my "Monday" and "Tuesday"...Saturday and Sunday...SEE?! I told you it's confusing!

Another thing that you need to be aware of is that there is an Islamic calendar called the Hijri and people follow it. Some follow it so closely that some of my kids don't know in what year they were born off the top of their heads, and you have to specify "yeah, in the Gregorian calendar" when talking about history. Their calendar is based off the fleeing of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina. This was called the Hijra, so the calendar is called the Hijri, and all of the dates are "after hijra" or A.H. So, 1776 AD was the signing of the Declaration of Independence...but it was only 1189 AH according to the Hijri (Until December 7, we are in the year 1431 case you were wondering...impress your friends...). As a history teacher I find this particularly interesting, but one more thing to trip my students up as we learn. The good news is this really only applies to the Middle Ages & late antiquity (Ancient Rome). <----yeah I totally just nerded out on you there...sorry, comes with the territory.

Tie this all together with the daily schedule that people keep here in Saudi: We start school absurdly early, so most people (ok, everybody) take a nap in the afternoon. I normally don't like sleeping this much because I would rather be doing something but, stores are pretty much closed until at least when in Rome... I won't lie, it has been nice. I don't have to tell you how much Amber loves naps. Additionally, the afternoon nap combined with the late start of businesses means everything is open late; at least until 10 pm and most of the restaurants/schwarma places are open 24 hours. This means that a lot plans involve late nights...even on school nights!

All of this leaves me with an incredible sense of chronological vertigo. I call days the wrong names. I sometimes wake up really excited for the Bama game on Saturday and realize that I have to wait until Sunday to find out what happened. In planning to talk to my grandma on her birthday, we needed to be talking to her at 9pm her time...Amber accidentally counted backwards and almost had us planning to talk with Granny and the rest of the family at 1 pm our time...which would have been 5 am their time...not the plan.

It's been crazy to get used to and honestly, I don't think that I am. At least I know when I'm supposed to be at work, but even this afternoon I took an hour long nap and woke up at 5 thinking that I had slept all through the night to the next day. This is actually what ended up prompting this post. Hopefully I'll have my internal clock set correctly soon...erratic does not even come close to describing my sleeping pattern.

Vicariously yours,

Friday, October 29, 2010

i have a come to Allah meeting

So, an interesting thing happened to me a few nights ago. I was invited to a panel discussion about the perception of Islam in non-Arab countries. The American teachers in the secondary school were invited to take part because...we're the only non-Arabs on staff. Since it seemed like something that would be a great experience for cross-cultural learning, those of us that were invited decided we would all go. They had also invited a couple of people from the Islamic Center in Dammam that were Filipino, I assume to try and get more than just the American view of know, stress the non-Arab part of the function. It was going to be a very interesting night and I was actually pretty excited about the experience.

And it started off promisingly enough...a couple of teachers introduced the evening and welcomed everybody in, and then the mic was handed to one of the students. He addressed his first question to the Filipinos: "So how did you find out about Islam?" This is when we find out that the Filipino gentlemen were mostly new converts...from Christianity. One of them was a former priest and he proceeded to explain how he realized that Christianity wasn't for him.

During the former priest's testimony (that really is the only way to describe it) I started to feel resentful. I resented the fact that I was basically tricked into an evangelistic pitch meeting. I resented that there was no mention of the perception of Islam in other countries, just the ways that Christianity is wrong. Don't get me wrong, they were all very friendly. They even offered to answer any questions we might have about Islam. They were talking to the room, of course...but looking straight at me.

I was put out. Annoyed. I considered walking out a couple of times. Not because I didn't like what they had to say, but because I felt like I had been lured there under false pretenses. I began to feel more and more defensive as the other speakers went on.

The father of one of my students came up to me after the "discussion" and gave me a pen with information about Islam on it. He called it a "magic pen"... you might say he was the Islamic equivalent of a Gideon. The pen had a scroll inside with websites with information about Islam.

Needless to say, I was upset by the time I got home. But I've thought a lot about it and I've come to a few conclusions.

First of all, this is literally the reason we came to Saudi Arabia. Not to convert to Islam, obviously, but to find out about other people's perspectives; to finally be in a minority and see what it feels like. I certainly was put in a position I'd really never been in before. So I can complain about it, or I can learn from it...and that is why we're here.

Second, this is no different than what would happen to anyone who's not a Christian back at home. Whether it's at work, school, or even in sports Christians take every opportunity they can to share their faith. From holiday programming to prayers before football games, Christianity is everywhere. Now that I've been on the other side of tracts, I can see how uncomfortable and even intrusive it can be. I'd never really thought about it until it was happening to me. Non-Christians are inundated with Christianity everyday in America, but in Saudi Arabia, the non-Muslims are inundated with Islam. I can actually sense your eyes rolling as I write this...but wait for the third point.

Third, and most importantly, I'm not at home. Saudi Arabia is a country that is ruled by sharia law and the king is the "custodian of the two holy mosques". You cannot separate Islam from Saudi. I don't think that expressing the religious views of the majority should be taboo. Just like Christians expressing their faith in America because they are in the majority. I live in an Islamic nation. I respect that.

In the end, I don't think that they set up the evening for the explicit purpose of converting the heathens. I think they really did want to talk about the issue of perception in non-Arab countries. I'm glad that I went. To hear the things that Muslims...especially Muslims that were once Christians...think about Christianity is fascinating. It's never a bad thing to get humbled every once in awhile. Ultimately, I'm not resentful about the experience...I actually think I learned from it.

Vicariously yours,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

These photos are unrelated

I am having so many experiences, and as they're happening I think to myself, "I've got to remember to blog about this." But of course now that I have time to sit down and write a post, my mind draws a blank!

So I'll share some random photos.

This is the Mister standing next to the gate that leads to our door. This is not the same gate you see in the video I posted earlier. There are three gates to our house, and only two are on the street. The third one is directly outside our door, and it leads to a litter-ridden sand pit.

This is what our house looks like from the street. The gate on the right is the gate from the photo above. The gate on the left is the one right outside our front door. There's a third gate just to the right of the car. All the houses have walls and gates like this. It really makes stories like Aladdin seem more understandable. I always thought it was so unfair that Jasmine had to live behind a wall like that, but now I see that all Arabs do!

This was taken the first night we moved in to the apartment. When we arrived, the apartment wasn't *really* completely ready, but I had begged enough that they finally just said, "Fine, move in, but you're gonna have to rough it for a bit." We had basic furniture and some linens, but we had no bed sheets, and this is the only pillow they provided us! The picture doesn't do justice to how tiny it looked in comparison to the big, king size bed.

These are my Frosted Flakes (they're called Frosties here). They're in English, Greek (I think), and Arabic. I chuckle to myself every morning trying to say "tpp-pp-omepa."

Vicariously yours,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My First Saudi Field Trip

"Does anybody want to go to the art exhibit this afternoon?" my supervisor asked as she entered the English cluster. I like art. I'd like to go to an exhibit.

"What do you mean 'go to the art exhibit'?" I asked with hesitation.

The art club was using its club time to visit an art exhibit at the Holiday Inn a few minutes away from the school. They needed some extra chaperones to go as "crowd control."

Sounded easy enough. Anyone who has worked with me in Nashville knows that I've chaperoned my fair share of field trips. And as a bonus, I wasn't in charge of this one, just "crowd controlling."

So clubs time rolls around and I'm waiting at the gate for the girls to arrive. The teachers who are in charge of the henna club and art club are waiting as well. I figure since it's their clubs that are going, they are in charge. I then find out that the drama club and photoshop club are going with us as well. As the girls pour down the hallway toward us, the clubs supervisor is among them, swamped with girls all speaking loudly at the same time. She looks slightly panicked. As she stops in front of me, she announces with a thick Arabic accent, "Drama ees wif Meesus Ayful!"

I'm thinking to myself, "This Ms. Ayful lady better show up soon. We're loading the buses."

The din of the girls declaring that they do have permission to go on this trip is almost deafening. More drama club girls have arrived and they need to know which teacher to check in with.

"Drama ees wif Meesus Ayful!" declares the clubs supervisor again. The girls look around in confusion, and I join them in craning my neck looking for the tardy "Meesus Ayful."

Apparently some girls ask "Who?" in Arabic and the clubs supervisor--who is losing her patience very quickly-- declares again, "MEESUS AYFUL! DRAMA EES WIF MEESUS AYFUL!" and she points directly at me.

"ME?!" I ask, also pointing squarely at my chest!

"Yes. Meesus Ayful."

Apparently "Echols" sounds like "Ayful" to my Arabic colleagues, and she hasn't taken the time to clarify. She's got a field trip to not go on. She's leaving that to Meesus Ayful.

h'oh boy.

That was the beginning of the longest 55 minute field trip I have ever gone on in my life.

Vicariously yours,

p.s. My favorite quote from this field trip: "Teacherteacher! Can we take pictures?"

"Sure, I guess."

"Oh, but teacher we don't have cameras."

"...well I guess that solves that problem, doesn't it!?"

Friday, October 22, 2010

i guess that's why they call it the blues...

Forgive the Elton John reference. I've been listening to his greatest hits album this evening, so I guess you're forced to deal with it.

Deal with it.

I've wanted to write a post about homesickness for awhile, but I thought it would be better to wait until a time when I wasn't actually homesick...but then Amber went to the mall with the ladies (apparently the national pastime of Saudi Arabia) and now I'm at home alone, with little to do and plenty of time to think. So maybe I'm a teensy, weensy bit homesick. Which got me thinking...what exactly makes me homesick and what am I homesick for?

I haven't really gotten homesick a whole lot here...and I've found that to be pretty weird. I usually get homesick a lot when I'm away from home. When I was in France in college, my house mom literally told me I talked on the phone too much. In a way that some might call pathetic this was to my parents, not to my friends that were actually in France with me. But here, not so much. I can really only think of one time that I've gotten seriously homesick and that was pretty recently after we arrived.

The epiphany that I've had about being homesick is that it happens naturally. We as humans love routine and familiarity. So when we're suddenly tossed into new surroundings and around new people, we immediately reach for anything that is familiar. For me, having mp3 players and facebook has really changed being homesick. I think I try harder to hang on to the familiar things because I'm talking to buddies from home all the time and listening to the same music that reminds me of family and friends. For instance, Oasis makes me think of my brother, My Morning Jacket (no, those fireworks weren't planned, the Titans won. yes, it was amazing) makes me think of my brother-in-law, and Brand New makes me think of my sister. (In a related note, Fallout Boy also makes me think of my sister, but I didn't want to embarrass her...oops.) I used music and the internet as a crutch to keep myself from really experiencing this new place that I'm in. However, I wasn't able to suffer for long though, because I got to bring home with me. I know this sounds absurdly cheesy, but having Amber with me has made this transition so much easier than it would have been alone. We have some friends and colleagues here that came alone and I just don't understand how they do it! Not to mention the fact that Amber doesn't let me sit and sulk. She hates that. So that's what makes me homesick...just the sitting and thinking.

So how did I get over my homesickness? Well, Amber prodded me until I got out of the house and actually started to do things, for one, but the big thing was just getting to work. As soon as I got to work and started making plans, I was okay. Keeping my mind busy and investing myself in meeting my colleagues and students has made this transition so painless. I love the people I work with, and we have started having people over for dinner, going to church together, and generally enjoying each others' company. My soundtrack has changed, too. I listen to a lot more of the music that really just makes me think of me: Laura Veirs, Aloha, and Fleet Foxes. Sure, I still get a little homesick, but I'm dedicated to my job and my students here and that keeps me focused. It keeps me Saudi Arabia (Psst...IT'S STILL WEIRD THAT I LIVE IN SAUDI ARABIA...but let's just keep that between you and me).

So yeah, things are going really well. I feel totally adjusted and the only real challenges with living here are not having a car (I'm looking at a Volvo tomorrow...exciting, I know) and dealing with some unruly 8th graders...which is pretty much what I signed up for, so that's my fault entirely. What's that? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention what I get homesick for. Well, you know what they say, a picture's worth a thousand words.

Yeah...I get homesick for that.

Vicariously yours,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Burn baby burn

I have a problem. When I'm cooking, I want the food to turn out just right, so I obsessively follow the recipe as much as possible. Usually this turns out fine, but occasionally I'll miss a step or forget to chop an ingredient, so I end up doing two or three things at once and stuff gets rushed in the kitchen.

And when things get rushed in the kitchen, someone gets hurt.

Last night, I was stir-frying the vegetables at the same time as boiling the noodles at the same time that the Mister was chopping the garlic that was supposed to already be in the stir-fry. The noodles were ready, so I quickly dumped them into the colander and, thinking that I'd emptied the pot of all the water, slung the pot back onto the eye.

Only problem was I hadn't gotten all the water out, so I effectively sloshed the just-slightly-less-than-boiling water down my left arm.

It didn't hurt so bad at first. It more just startled me. I abandoned the kitchen and ran to get a towel to dry my arm --"stir the vegetables!" I cried as I ran down the hallway, and THAT is when the pain set in.

Eventually the pain got so bad that I was brought to tears, and thus the Hubs started freaking out. He doesn't really know what to do when I cry or when I'm in pain, so combine the two and he's a hot mess. He sent out a distress signal to the other Americans in the house and our next door neighbor came to the rescue.

He is in the apartment right next to us, and is married to a Thai woman who doesn't speak that much English but has the kindest heart and sweetest smile. She brought over an unlabeled jar of some mystery ointment. She said she brought it from Thailand and she uses it on herself when she gets a burn.

My instincts told me to turn down her kind offer, but I really didn't have an alternative, and I didn't want to be rude. The smell of menthol filled the air as she gently applied the poultice to my burn.

I'll be honest, it only succeeded at making the pain worse at first. I think the nerves were still too pissed at me for burning them to calm down, Thai ointment or not. Eventually, though, the pain started to recede and I applied the camouflage green stuff to my arm again. MIRACLE! The pain immediately started to decrease.

I was left with big green patches all over my arm, and this stuff stains anything it touches, so sleeping was going to be tricky...

Enter my Mister with a boy scout-esque solution: Wrap my arm in paper towels!

It worked well enough. I think it didn't hurt that our sheets were black, so even if I got anything on them, I wouldn't have known!

Today my arm just felt like it had a bad sunburn, so I'm hoping tomorrow it'll be good as new. In the meantime, I have yellow stains from where the magic ointment didn't come off, and I look like I don't know how to apply sunscreen.

The must frustrating and scary part of the whole situation was the fact that neither of us knows the name of any of the hospitals here. We don't know where they are, and we don't now which one to avoid (there's always one). We don't have a car, and we don't know what phone number to call in an emergency. 911? 999? 411? And even if we did know the number, we don't speak the language, so it would be impossible to tell the person on the other end of the line what we needed! This was part of the cultural experience I wasn't hoping to have to deal with, and hopefully we'll never have to use the emergency services in this area during our time in Saudi Arabia...but it's definitely a challenge of living abroad that I'd forgotten to prepare for.

Vicariously yours,

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Pakistani Saudi Arabia

I think it's hilarious that I had to come all the way to Saudi Arabia to get to see a Pakistani wedding!

Technically I didn't see the wedding itself, but just part of the event. The actual nuptials will happen in Pakistan in November. What I was invited to last night was the Pakistani equivalent of a bachelorette party. ...with no alcohol...or talk of sex....or men at all.

Essentially it was a party for the women in the bride's life. The bride is a fellow English teacher at the school and she is so much fun! It was funny because she was supposed to just sit in her "throne" at the front of the room and watch the proceedings, but she said she likes to dance too much, so she joined the crowd.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

I bought a traditional Indian/Pakistani outfit for the event because I wanted to fit in, and how many times will I get to wear an outfit like this?! I didn't have to wear traditional clothes, but I'm glad I went shopping because I would have stuck out like a sore thumb if I didn't.

Here's what my outfit looked like:

I bought it at the Lulu. That's a grocery store with a department store on the top floor.

A colleague of mine did the henna on the bride's hands and feet. It took 6 hours, but golly did it turn out beautifully.

After all the guests arrived, the music started. The family of the bride put a sheet on the ground and all her closest family and friends gathered in a circle and played a drum and sang songs in Urdu. I have no idea what the songs were about, but I was told that when the bridal shower is held in conjunction with the groom's party, the two families kind of "compete" against each other with the songs. I would have loved to have seen that!!

Then the dancing for everyone else began. I thought it was so funny that these women were so shy in a room full of other women. I was hoping it wasn't due to the fact that a strange American and a few Saudis were in the room.

The other English teachers didn't let that stop them, though! We let loose and had a great time!

After that, the bride's family members performed dances in her honor. It was so wonderful!

After all the dancing was over, the caterers (gasp! MEN!) brought the food and we had an amazing meal of traditional Pakistani dishes. Golly it was spicy, but sooo good! I didn't take any photos of it because I was hungry at the point that I was too busy stuffing my face to document the wonderfulness.

I hope I get to experience more weddings while we're here. That's one part of worldwide culture that I find so fascinating.

Vicariously yours,

Friday, October 15, 2010

the 5 things about driving in saudi arabia that will eventually get us killed

America, I don't think you realize what you have. I'm not talking about freedom, justice, or the right to super size your McDonald's meal for an only 40 cents (is it still 40 cents? i mean, the economic crisis affected us all). No, I'm talking about the transportation situation. The traffic laws (both legislated and unspoken), the turn lanes, the 4-way stops, the shoulders, and the fact that you don't honk the very second that the light turns green! Yesterday I drove to the bookstore and it was, for lack of a better word, terrifying.

Pictured: Me. (Re-enactment)

So here is my list of the things that are probably going to lead to a major accident here in Saudi.

1. There is no such thing as a traffic lane.
There is a fundamental flaw with driving in Saudi. There are sometimes (and I stress the sometimes) lines painted on the motorways that separate lanes here. But they are, for the most part, totally and completely ignored. So far I have seen driving on the shoulder, betwixt lanes, and pretty much anywhere you can fit a Toyota Camry...or a bus. This often means switching lanes every five or ten seconds. Which can become very, very dangerous. Now, one would think, well then, I'll just drive in the right hand lane and people will pass on the right, no problem. But then someone comes driving 90 miles an hour along the shoulder, honking at you for going only 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. I shudder, just thinking about it.

2. Speeding is essential to staying alive.
As most of you are aware, I drive like an old woman. That means I drive the speed limit. I have been known to drive 5 over on the interstate, but I believe that is pretty much the speed limit and nobody will ever pull you over for going 5 over on the interstate. Here...well...the speed limit on the motorway is 100 km/hour. Everybody goes at least 120. I have literally never seen a police officer driving on this motorway (probably because it is so horrifying) and therefore, no need for anyone to slow down. This creates the necessity to drive to match the speed of traffic (see, Dad? I was paying attention while you were teaching me to drive). So driving really fast has to happen. While driving though, one truth becomes immediately obvious: no matter how fast you're going, someone is going to blow past you going faster.

See? That guy doesn't even have his lights on!

3. If the light is green and you're not moving, honk.
At first, this doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but it is infuriating. The moment that the light turns green (and by the way, there's no line to tell you where to stop) people start honking at you. This doesn't matter if you're 4 cars back from the first one, the guy behind you starts honking right when the light turns green. This seems to be the perfectly normal thing to do...but it makes the inner road raging incredible hulk in me want to come out. They wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

4. Traffic stops for no apparent reason.
This happens in the US a lot too. I mean who hasn't been sitting in a traffic jam only to all of a sudden have traffic begin moving. You're looking for the car wreck or the police officer...but you see nothing. No broken glass. Nothing. This happens here a lot. But instead of not seeing anything...there's just a policeman standing in the middle of the street stopping all the cars...and then...letting them go 10 seconds later. Not checking IDs or anything, but just stopping the cars. No idea why. Drivers will also frequently slam on the brakes. Again, for no reason. To compound this problem, you are kind of forced into following other cars closely because if you don't someone is going to swerve into your lane in front of you. So rear ending someone or being rear ended is pretty likely.

5. People are incensed if you don't drive like them.
Seriously. If you don't make a (presumably) illegal turn into oncoming traffic, you're getting lights flashed at you and the honking commences. If you don't cut someone off or go a million miles an hour, you're the horrible driver. In trying to turn left, I was waiting for an appropriate gap, but was only there for 5 seconds before the guy behind me started honking, flashing his lights, and gesturing for me to go. It took a lot of concentration and willpower not to give him the international sign for "hold your damn horses, I'm trying to turn."

I will most certainly discover many grey hairs from driving here. It's not all bad news, though. In about 10 days the Saudi government is putting in cameras that take pictures of people if they're driving is unsafe. They get a HUGE fine. This is supposed to cut down on the crazy driving. However, I'm not holding my breath.

Vicariously yours,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Silly silly students

Even though they drive me crazy at times, I really do love my new students. It's so funny how at times they're a completely different animal from the kids in the States, and sometimes I feel like I've teleported back to my classroom at home!

Today in my seventh-grade class, we were doing a quick grammar review challenge. The kids had sentences and they had to determine if the apostrophes in them were used correctly or not.

The third sentence said this: Sandra, could I borrow your note's?

As the kids were working on the exercise, a girl excitedly raised her hand. "Teacher teacher!" --because that's what my students call me, despite two weeks worth of efforts to train them to call me "Mrs. Echols," not "teacher teacher."-- "Teacher, I want to answer when we get to number three! It's a trick."

I was happy to see that she was so eager to participate in class, but I hadn't meant number 3 to be a trick. The answer was pretty much cut-and-dried. So I was curious to see what trick she had caught.

Keep in mind that the assignment only dealt with the words that had apostrophes.

When we got to the sentence about Sandra's notes, my eager little lady happily declared that the correct way to write the sentence was, "Sandra, MAY I borrow your note's?"

The beaming expression of total pride was soo precious! I tried so hard to stifle my laugh as she explained that her English teacher last year would always answer the question "Could I go to the bathroom" with "I don't know...CAN you?"

I praised her for her fine manners and then asked if she noticed anything else wrong with the sentence.

" That is all."

le sigh.

Vicariously yours,

Friday, October 8, 2010

A peek inside our new home!

Side note: the video really doesn't do justice to how loud the washing machine is, or how much it moves during a wash cycle. At some points it sounds like a plane taking off in our kitchen! I just couldn't catch it on video.

Vicariously yours,

My funny co-workers

The biggest irony I find about my moving to Saudi Arabia is that I don't really work directly with that many Saudis during the day-- adults, I mean. 95% of my students are Saudis, but my co-workers in the English department are all Indian or Pakistani, so what I've learned about Saudi culture has been gleaned from conversations with my students and the Mister's co-workers.

Anyway, Saudi or not, the women I get to work with everyday are a real treat. It's such a fun mix of personalities and so far we all mesh really well.

Last week we all gathered at one house for a ladies' lunch and all-around fun time. There is one lady in particular who always inadvertently makes me laugh. I don't want to say she's spacey because she's very smart and organized, but I think she sometimes zones out and when she tunes back into a conversation, she hasn't quite gotten the whole story, so her comments are really random!

One such case happened at the ladies' lunch. It was time for the 4th prayer of the day, so she was suiting up and there was a discussion as to which direction Mecca was. All the ladies then took to pointing in one direction or another. The house we were in is located right behind the school, and since that's a place that they all pray in regularly, they used the school and its surrounding landmarks as directionals.

Right next door to the school is a Burger King, and as the crow flies, Mecca is in the same direction. So to help clarify the situation, one of the ladies said, "Yes, that's the direction because Burger King is that way."

To which my funny colleague gave a confused look and simply replied, "...we don't pray to Burger King!!"

It was so hilarious because she was so serious and couldn't understand why her friend had been praying to the fast-food-monarch all these years!

Just thought I'd share a funny story.

Vicariously yours,

Thursday, October 7, 2010

For real this time

Oh my goodness, you never know just how dependent you are on the internet until you can't update your status or blog for an entire week! I've been thinking to witty blog topics and fun tweets all week long, but had no way to share them all with you!

We have SOOO many stories to tell! I don't even know where to start! I'll just go with what's fresh on my mind:


The hubs and I just got back from a part of town that I have dubbed "gadget row" because of all the cell phone stores on both sides of the street. Seriously. You walk out of a cell phone shop, and next door is another cell phone shop. The street is dotted with the occasional broasted chicken establishment (broasted = fried), but literally everything else on the street is a cell phone store.

We never would have been able to get our phones for so cheap if we weren't with a new friend from work. He is Yemeni, and thus speaks Arabic, so we weren't taken to the cleaners. That has by far been the most frustrating part of living here so far: the language barrier. There have been so many instances when I knew we were getting over charged, but I didn't know how to haggle with the guy, so we had to pay the exorbitant price.

Anyway, we went into a few shops and bargained for a couple hours, and in the end we both walked away with shiny used BlackBerries. I have exactly two contacts in my phone: The Mister, and my own phone number. It's kind of a depressing reminder that we need to make friends.

After we got our phones, we went to the Golden Juice to get the world's best shawarma sandwiches and the best fresh juice I've ever put in my mouth. People, you have never tasted juice until you've had this stuff! I got the "France Juice." I'm not entirely sure which part of the concoction was French, but golly it was amazing! It was mango, orange, apple and pineapple juices--literally freshly squeezed on the spot. Oh. my. heavens. SO GOOD!

We'll be posting photos of our new digs soon, but only after we've settled in more. The walls are really bare and there is still furniture to be moved in. So after I apply my extensive interior design skillz (thank you, HGTV), I'll take all of you on a "tour."

Vicariously yours,