[THIS VIDEO CONTAINS MUSIC]
I can’t explain how much I love this place.
I can’t explain how much I love this place.
The Farm in Al Majma’ah
المزرعة في المجمعة
My dear friend A invited me to join her and her family at their farm in a small city north of Riyadh called Al Majma’ah. A’s brother also invited Y and so we gladly excepted. I’m so glad that we did because it was a fantastic experience that I hope I get to have again.
A’s brother told Y that it was about an hour drive. Y knew once we saw a road sign that it would be at least double that, but we enjoyed the ride anyways. Through the desert we went. Finally we arrived to the town and a few moments later we were pulling off the road onto a dirt path that led us to an area with a gate and cement wall. We got out of the car. Y went off with the guys and I went into the kitchen to greet the girls.
I sat in the kitchen for a few minutes chatting with A’s sister in law H, who greeted me warmly. Soon after A’s mom came in along with A’s aunt and two of her cousins. They smiled at me and I felt so comfortable being there with them, even from the very beginning.
We sat to have coffee and sweets. Soon after we went to sit outside and A’s aunt started a fire. Teas warmed in pots along the outside of the fire and a few ears of corn were roasted. They played some music and the kids danced. Eventually A’s mom called us back inside to have dinner.
It was cold, colder than I have experienced here in Saudi Arabia. I had on layers and layers, including 3 pairs of socks at one point and I was loving it. Eventually we went into one of the rooms and set out all of the blankets on the floor. We slept.
The next morning we got up and had breakfast. The typical Saudi breakfast with beans, eggs, liver with peppers etc. After the breakfast A and I went for a walk around the farm. She showed me the lines of date palms and we laughed at some camels just beyond the cement wall.
When we got back A’s mom, sister and sister in law had started to barbecue chicken on the grill. When it was finished we ate and then relaxed.
Soon after Y and I put our things in the car and started out journey back to Riyadh.
I finally got around to inviting the girls from work over for some late night tea and snacks. I’ve been really blessed to have met such lovely ladies at KSU and it’s amazing how well we get along while we have only known each other for a short time. Here are some of the snapchat photos from that night.
I was surprised by some housewarming gifts. I was given gorgeous serving dishes and a dainty little silver tea set. They’re so lovely and the perfect things for entertaining on nights like the one that I shared with these girls.
Working abroad allows me to constantly meet new people from all over the world. There are people who come and go, but then there are the fantastic people that I know I will have to do my best to keep in contact with when we go separate ways. This is a beautiful thing about working and living in another country. You find people that you have connections with and at the same time there is almost always incredibly interesting conversation as we all come from very different lives and backgrounds.
One thing that I absolutely love about working at an all women’s university is being able to enjoy time outside. Once we are inside the campus walls we can go out without having to cover. We don’t have to wear our abayas or headscarves or face coverings. It’s something that we don’t really have the opportunity to do anywhere else here or in our home countries. Most of us here at work make it a point to go out everyday to enjoy the weather and fresh air simply because we can.
There have been a handful of afternoons spent outside on the grass with coffee and a few snacks.
The beautiful blue sky and scattered clouds.
Amongst the greenery of the campus gardens.
Classic Ray Ban shades.
Tiny chocolate brownie cupcakes.
Well…I just kind of stopped posting all of a sudden and it’s not because I haven’t thought about writing. I just haven’t made time to sit down and do it. There is always something else to do (i.e. go to work or go to sleep). I think most people feel that way, but last week I finally made the decision that I wasn’t willing to live like that. I need to enjoy myself even if it means being tired at work in the morning or not writing a 100% complete lesson plan every day. I feel it has taken me a bit of time to realize that time management doesn’t mean that everything is going to fit into my day, but that I’ve got to make compromises in order to make at least pieces of them fit.
Here is a peak into my recent phone image gallery:
Sweet roses from a sweet friend.
Hand made Ferrero Rocher
Coffee break with the students
Mid-term exam time
The usual spread
At the hospital
Chocolove…the name definitely fits
Rain in Riyadh
Junk food junkies in the office
Coffee and Anoosh cookies
Chocolate covered oreo
Now we’re into final exams, which means in a couple of weeks I will have a few days to just relax between the semesters. God willing my posts will be more frequent from now on. I’ve really missed sharing here and I actually do have a lot to tell you. I still haven’t finished posting about my trip to Turkey, last week I went camping outside of Riyadh for the first time and this Friday my best friend has a party for her engagement.
You’ll hear from me again real soon, ان شاء الله.
Thursday was the last day of work for a short break due to Hajj and Eid Al Adha. A day of teaching, workshops and meetings ended with a nap on the bus and snacks with friends in my apartment.
Friday I went to Riyadh Gallery with a few of the girls. We shopped, sat for coffee at a cafe and enjoyed wandering around. Once arriving home I put on my sweats, had a cup of tea and dumped myself into bed.
Saturday was my 24th birthday.
I spent the morning relaxing. Some of the girls came by that afternoon. One brought me this adorable little sorbet sundae. Another stopped by with a box of mini cupcakes and chocolate caramels. The last visitor made a cute little Instagram video and sang to me in Spanish and Chinese. How lovely and thoughtful are my new found friends?
Later that night Y came back from visiting his family. We planned to go have sushi at Benihana, but it was so packed that we got a take-away and enjoyed dinner at home instead.
I had a really lovely and simple weekend.
A big thanks to everyone who visited me, wrote me a message, sent me a picture or passed along positive thoughts. Love you all and thanks for making life so sweet.
Here is a short video to sum it all up.
Thank God for each year of life that I have been given, the people who have been with me and I pray for even better years to come.
I’m back in Riyadh and doing my best to enjoy the last days of vacation before going back to work.
Unfortunately, the day after I arrived here in KSA I started feeling really ill. It started out as really nasty post nasal drip (to the point where I had to sleep sitting up), to having itchy eyes, a runny nose and that extremely irritating endless sneezing feeling, to massive sinus congestion, headaches and coughing, to extreme fatigue and aches behind my eyes…and finally back to feeling human. I woke up today without the worst of those symptoms and just a simple cough that I suspect will stick around until all the gunk is cleared out of my chest.
Despite feeling like poo I have still been able to relax and enjoy not having to wake up and leave for work.
Here is a short video of the past relatively uneventful days.
August 11 to August 17
July 22 – July 28
I got to spend some time in my hometown with my dad in the very house that I grew up in.
It is a place filled with the kind of natural beauty that never gets old, yet never changes.
In every direction there are rounded mountains covered with green trees.
Two majestic lakes border either end, one flowing into the other by a swirling river.
Multiple waterfalls splash along the river’s path.
To my dad, grandparents, aunts, family and friends:
I love you and thank you.
First Iftar (Breakfast) Invitation
I recently went to visit my friend B’s family here in Riyadh. I spend some time with her younger sister, mother and aunt. All who are very kind and welcoming. I regret not going to visit them sooner and I promised that I would visit more often after I return from my upcoming trip.
When I arrived it was near to the time for the Maghrib Athan (when we break our fast) and they began bringing out sweets, dates, coffee, tea, water and juices.
I was served endless cups of arabic coffee while having conversation with her sister in English and her aunt in Arabic. Well, she spoke Arabic and I understood, haha.
After a while we went to the dining room to sit for the meal. There were soups, a potato dish, sambas, french fries, fish, foul and bread. Everything was delicious.
I know I usually say this, but it is not the delicious food or hot coffee that makes these times beautiful memories, it is the conversation and sitting with truly kind and inviting individuals.
Meeting K ☺
Sometimes you just need to meet up with a friend that speaks the same language and shares the same culture.
I’m blessed to have a friend here that shares these things (and more), not to mention she is a really lovely person with a great personality, intelligent mind and kind heart.
I wore one of the dresses that Y’s mom bought for me while we were in Makkah. It was blue with white and grey patterns and embroidery along the neckline. I think it is Moroccan style as it has a hood.
After iftar (breakfast) Y went to visit some friends and I put out some snacks to share with K. Of course there was Arabic coffee and dates. There was also mini twix, mini galaxy, these delicious wafer squares, chocolate covered dates, chips, biscuits and tea.
I waited and she arrived as she always does with a big smile and a hug.
We spent the night/morning (10pm to 4:30 am) talking, telling stories & giving advice.
We didn’t even notice the time and ended up cooking a quick suhoor of oatmeal and eggs with only about 20 minutes to go before the adhan (when fasting begins).