Friday, July 1, 2011

A fantastic Saudi beach day!!

I just returned from a fantastic day at the beach with wonderful friends. The woman who owns the school where I work opened up her beach house to the ladies of the girls school and we got to just lounge about for an afternoon today. A dust storm rolled in to town around 11 this morning, but our spirits were not deterred. It was hot (114F, 46C) and dusty, but we still managed to have a great time. There are a lot of trees around the property of the beach house, so we weren't pelted with sand or anything, and you really get used to the heat after a while.

Today's beach trip was especially well timed because today is Asrar's birthday. Asrar is the cluster secretary that I talked about so much on here. She is by far my favorite part of living in Saudi Arabia and I hope to cherish our friendship for a long time. In honor of her birthday, we had a cookout and spent the afternoon dancing and playing games. Here are some photographic highlights.
We had a little friend join us at our cookout. She was pitiful, and her begging efforts were rewarded with charred shish tawook (what we call kebabs in the States).

See? This is the shish tawook. Yummy!

After lunch, Asrar made us tea on charcoal (that's the translation of the Arabic). Seriously some of the best tea I've ever had. You start by putting water and mint leaves in a kettle and placing it directly on the coals after you're finished grilling up lunch.

After the leaves start to boil, you put the tea bags in there and let that boil for 15 or 20 minutes. Serve with a little bit of sugar and tah-dah! It was very tasty.

We went inside after lunch and played karim. The white stuff is baby powder. The powder kind of smooths out the board. The checker game piece looking things are what you try to hit into the pockets in the four corners using the big green pog slammer looking thing. As you can see, you flick it to the game pieces and try to knock them around.

These pieces were impossible to get into the pocket! They eluded all of us for like 3 rounds! Once you get one of the pieces into the pocket, you take it and it counts as your points (kind of like checkers).

If you flick the green...thing into one of the pockets, you have to forfeit one of your game pieces. I was the only one of us that knocked the green piece into the pocket...I learned the whole give-up-a-piece rule AFTER this picture was taken.

This is how I felt about the news that I had to give up the only piece I'd gotten in the whole game!

Eventually I redeemed myself and got a LOT of pieces!

I had a truly wonderful time with Asrar, Mona (one of the English teachers), and Sandra. There were other teachers there today, but most of them were Elementary teachers who I had never met before, and they all spoke Arabic. We found a common language, however: Dance!

Asrar had emailed me some Arabic songs and I put them on my iPod. She and the other Arabic teachers showed the non-khaleeji* teachers how to dance. I did such a good job that a few of the teachers thought I was Syrian or Lebanese or khaleeji. They said I move like a khaleeji woman. I took that as a compliment.

Speaking of compliments: the mother of one of the Arabic teachers wanted me as a wife for her son. I guess it was a bit of a let down when Asrar told her that I was already married. She told Asrar to be on the look out for more girls like me so she could direct them her son's way.


After all was said and done, I had an incredibly memorable time with friends today. A great way to start winding down our first year here in Saudi.

Vicariously yours,

*Khaleeji is a word that describes people from the Arabian Gulf region. Essentially, people from the GCC countries.

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