September 25th, wraps up two years living and working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Last year has really flown by. I was supposed to be heading back to the States but my employer has not been successful in securing employment for me as yet probably due to economic situations going on there. So while the efforts and resolutions continue there, I will continue to play in the sand here, until such time, I return home.
Meanwhile, over 18,000 "hits" on GMarie's page and 84 posts later, my adventures in Saudi Arabia, where I actually slip sometimes and call “Home”, continues. After recovering from a bad case of the flu, I started off 2013 with a trip to the spa and a visit to one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the area; Olivio’s Italian Ristorante located on the fourth floor in the Radisson Blu Hotel.
I also discovered another great place to eat called the Noodle House, located in the Centurian Mall. The restaurant serves Asian fare. The wasabi prawns and the spring rolls, that are very crisp, light and never greasy, are the best!
I adopted two female Saudi desert puppies that I named Talia and Dalia; Tally and Dally for short. Turns out, Dalia did not adjust very well to being socialized or domesticated. So she now lives at Dirab Golf Course. Talia, on the other hand, has adjusted fine. She’s sociable,very obedient, have a nice demeanor and is very attached to me.
Some of us from work attended the Janadriya Festival which took place in April. The festival draws attention to the Saudi culture through art (potters, wood workers and carvers), Nabatean (ancient Arabs) poetry, men sword dances and music.
A few of my close friends passed away this year; Dinah White aka “Nana”, my dear friend, Margaret “Tookie” Borel and fellow blogger, Carol Fleming-Al Alroush. All great women who lived extremely full lives and were fearless trend-setters.
Some excerpts of Nana’s story can be found in a book called, Praying in the Moment: Reflections on the Election of President Barack Obama by Shauna Jamieson Carty. The New York Times also did a story about Nana.
Tookie was a phone operator. In this advanced computer age many of you may not remember, that as a career field. Years ago when you dialed “0” you got someone on the line who responded,”Operator, may I help you?!” or “Operator, how can I place this call?"
Then there is renowned blogger, Carol Fleming aka American Bedu (http://americanbedu.com). It was an honor and pleasure to be recognized and interviewed by such a well-known icon. What a special woman who achieved and did so much for others.
All were truly an inspiration to me and so many others and will surely be missed!
Memorial Day weekend, I visited and spent four days in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The UAE is more conservative than Western countries but far more progressive than Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Wearing an abaya is not enforced, women can drive and there are movie theaters, night clubs and one can partake in a little libation! Each day, I was there, the weather was sunny and humid. It reminded me of South Pasadena Florida, which is where I live back in the States.
I also made a trip to Manama, Bahrain with some my colleagues. The drive from Riyadh to Bahrain is approximately four hours.
Manama is known for its nightlife, but we were there during the beginning of Ramadan, so music and drinking was suspended until after Eid Holiday. We went to other venues such as one of the largest malls in the area; Bahrain City Centre which had a movie theatre and to my surprise a water park! And for those enthusiasts who love to get the adrenaline rushing through the thrill of racing, VIVA Karting Track is the place to go!
So to be proactive to defeat the damages to by hair caused by this dry climate, I had to change my hair care regiment. I began to let my hair dry naturally and shampooed less often. I also use hot oil or moisturizing treatments with a plastic cap while drinking plenty of water supplemented by a good multivitamin (i.e. Vitamin A, B-Complex, Biotin, C,D and E).
My cohort Cherryl, from Guyana, decided to let me in on some of her tasty recipes from the Caribbean. She taught me how to prepare peas and rice, curry chicken, jerk chicken and roti. Scrumptious!
In the later part of the year, on September 11, the base memorialized the lives lost with a brief ceremony, a moment of silence for those that lost their lives on that devastating day.
To wrap up the year, I played in my first golf tournament at Dirab Golf Course. I believe I played alright for my first time. I had a few balls I lost and some that I hit off into the tree lines, but the highlight of playing was where I scored a birdie on a par three on hole 16! Also, I made second runner up (my teammate was first) on the scorecard for longest ball on hole 18!
It was a frustrating but nonetheless a very good learning experience for me. No LPGA career in the future, but playing for fun is alright too!
As I continue to enjoy the culture and all that it has to offer, I will continue to share my experiences living and working in Saudi Arabia through GMarie’s Page (http://gmarieflsblog.blogspot.com). Thanks for reading!
All the best,