16 August 2014
I said a final tearful goodbye to friends I might never see again, or at the very least will not see for a long time. We shared a last supper and talked about memories and good times and who know's what is to come in the future. As I cycled through the night to my taxi rendezvous point I let the sadness well up inside of me and overflow. The warm humid evening mixed well with my tears. I was not and am not sad because I don't want to leave. I know that it is time to move on and I look forward to beginning a new journey. But there is something incredibly emotional about realizing that a chapter of your life has ended. That as much as you will remember that time in your life, it will henceforward dwell in the past. And things will be forgotten. Relationships will become more distant and that something that was your everything will be not.
But when the times of change come rolling in we can choose to remain in place and be pummeled by the waves or we can float along with them. Have a good cry and then move forward.
And there is nothing like German competency and a comfortable ride in Lufthansa business class to take the sting off of a goodbye. In all these years of midnight travels in and out of Saudi land, it is my final flight in which I win the lucky free upgrade. The gods must be smiling upon me. Now, well rested and refreshed I write to you in transit from Frankfurt. I know this airport like the back of my hand after all the years of coming and going but now that I move back to the western side of the world it might be a long time before I return. So, in contrast to the usual, I will enjoy my layover. See you on the other side.
09 August 2014
... at least I was enjoying an Indiana August until I boarded my one way train back to hell.
I am being dramatic. It's not that bad. But the heat this time of year does make one question...
I would certainly say that a snowball has as little chance surviving in Saudi summer as anywhere else. And my cool, calm collectedness is no different. When the temp is soaring above a hundred and there is nary a tree-shaded spot in sight, it is easy to lose your mind. Or at the very least, your temper. And I must say that over the past four years of living here, my temper seems to have grown unusually shorter. Is it a direct correlation with the heat or is it a shortening of telomeres thanks to ungodly amounts of solar radiation or is it just a result of the reigning ridiculosity? Hard to say really.
But luckily for me, and those that have to deal with me, my days here are numbered. I am back for only a week or two, inshallah. I have umpteen million documents to get signed before I can secure my get-out-of-hell-free card and be on my way. To fly back across the world, never to return. Because that is how things work in this country. You need a visa to get in, and you need a visa to get out. Once I obtain the later, the former will be voided. I will exit Bab Makkah and the doors will close behind me. The life that I have known for the majority of my adulthood will be over. The town that I called home will be lost to me. The friends that I have made, I might never see again.
And myself. The child that I was when I first entered this foreign land and the person that I have become as I depart, will say goodbye. I will load up my trinkets and baubles, sunspots and arabic phrases, my abayas, my oud and my memories, good and bad. My baggage and I will leave knowing that this strange place has altered the course of my life in such a profound way. It brought me my husband and travel. It taught me about cultures very different from my own. It showed me that persistence and boldness can be useful but also dangerous. It gave me the opportunity to explore the wonders of the sea. It taught me that right and wrong are hard to define. It showed me the quick power of monarchy. And it taught me that no matter where you go, make friends and wear sunscreen.
Labels: Saudi Arabia
05 August 2014
Never ceases to amaze me that a place can be so full of color and life when four months out of the year the cold hand of winter deals grey desolation.
But here, the seasons abound. Frigid February turns into green spring which calls in the brilliance of summer. And while this one has not been overly hot, she is still flamboyant. Some cool days and rain have plumped up the perennials and gussied up the grasses. The turtles are enjoying full streams and the horses are happy. And while we can all feel that autumn is just around the corner, we are soaking up the August summer sun like it will last all year.
02 August 2014
It is like the boogeyman in the bushes waiting to jump out and grab me. Or the ring of the telephone in a silent house. It is that car stopping too suddenly in front of you or the mouse scurrying across your floor. Or perhaps, it is just a connection of synapses, some biochemical response to stimulation. All I know is that this giant of La Mancha lurks in the open summer fields and little towns of no name that dot the often forgotten highways of my childhood. When the sun is sinking low on the horizon and the families go in for dinner while the deer and the mosquitos come out to play, this is when the beast of nostalgia reigns.
And I can't put my finger on exactly what it is, but the windmills in their fields stretched out as they are in organized rows all gyrating to the same breeze, speak of all things past, present and future. The land of our forefathers which belonged to the trees before them, now crisscrossed with the endless mega farms, the state in which I will forever recognize this place. But a new crop is blooming, one to feed the mouths of the next generation. The people of tomorrow will dine on wind.
Those that pass through my homeland, when headed to one coast or another, often complain that this country is lackluster. They say there is nothing to look at and the flat roads that run straight forever and ever hardly encourage ballads of adventure. Perhaps I am biased but I would have to disagree. While there might be a lack of geographic upheaval, misty mountains, and crashing waves, one must not be soft when traveling through this land. Fore there are giants here waiting.
30 July 2014
This summer has been a bit of a weird one. At least for me. Rather than spending my days sweating out the horrible desert heat of Arabia, I have been partaking in barbecues, spending time with family, cutting the grass, listening to the pitter patter of rain, and generally enjoying Indiana summer. With my cats. Yes, that is right, the felines were transported across the world. Which I must say, is no small feat, but proved not nearly as difficult as I had imagined it might be. These street cats have been sprung from the confines of their second-story apartment in the middle of nowhere Saudi Arabia, to be let loose upon the world. Or at least my midwestern neighborhood. Birds, moles, voles, chipmunks, be warned. Gordo might be too lazy to hurt a fly, but Loco is a cold-hearted killer.
Pablo and I have almost one hundred percent (I guess that would make it like 95%) moved out of Saudi Arabia. Our lives, now legally cemented by the government of Colombia, are soon to take a new path. A path which leads us out of the troubled holy land, across the world, and onto a new adventure. We will be trading in the stark sandy landscape for a very very green one, complete with some of the world's tallest trees and the smallest deer. Pablo has moved there already. The kitties and I will join him at the end of summer. We are fortunate enough to spend the first few months of marriage on separate continents.
28 July 2014
No matter if your floors are dirt and your roof is thatched, when the Mundial is on, you will find a way to hook up the big screen and watch some futbol. I have to say that I have never really been into organized sports and much less soccer, but experiencing the World Cup Colombian style was quite exciting. The whole country was just so into it. As Colombia kept winning more and more games, more and more yellow, blue, and red was displayed all over the place. It seemed like all of Medellín was in a jersey. And despite the fact that Rio Cedro seemed very isolated from the rest of civilization, the whole village gathered around television sets to support their country on game day. I may never fully understand the point of chasing a ball back and forth across a giant field, but seeing people proud about their country brings on a kind of simple joy that is contagious.