November 14, 2005

Saudi 12.5

From Sandy:

Nov. 6 (I guess) 2;25 am

Can't sleep. Just heard from my good friend Jim that another good friend, Dennis, died last Saturday night. What a shock that he is dead. And what an honor to have known him.

I call this 12.5 because I'm being superstitious.

Meanwhile, I started noticing what I don't see or hear here. In Cloquet I felt a comfort from hearing the trains move through town, blowing their horns at road crossings. It occurred to me suddenly this week that I have never heard a train in Jeddah. Then I realized I have never seen tracks or a moving train. I did see one that is parked like the steam engine in Cloquet. I will have to ask if there are trains anywhere.

Today, while sitting at the pool, I saw a sweat bee. Then it hit me. I haven't seen any bees. I did see one hornet a month ago. One. No snakes. I wonder if the lack of anything except ants, a few mosquitos and a few pesky small non-biting flies is a result of all the spraying. There are song birds and morning doves. The morning doves have a different call than the ones in Cloquet --- yea, yea, yea - they speak Arabic. Gr. Did see a monarch butterfly, or something similar by my front door. Didn't know they existed outside North America.

I have started using the gym at the compound lifting some weights and fiddling around with some of the machines. And, have also started taking advantage of the pool tables in the rec center. Once upon a time I was a real pool shark, but after I quit drinking, I no longer went into bars. I never learned how to shoot sober pool that is, see the pool balls through clear eyes. So, for two days now I have been shooting pool alone trying to regain the vision of the angles. The first day was embarrassing even for being alone.

Today was better. There was no chalk, which makes shooting difficult. I asked about it and the managers said they would try to find some. Meanwhile, it occurred to me that my chalk pastels were a chalk. I selected a nice gray and used it today. Don't know if it was the chalk or just the practice, but today went much better.

We have one week of vacation left. I still have classes to work on, but believe I have used this two weeks well. I look forward to a return to school, though and trying to establish a new routine. Until the next break, which is in January another two weeks for the Hajj. Return from that, teach another week, then begin finals on Jan 29. Long semester. Very long.

Captured and released another gecko tonight. The silly little thing wouldn't come out of the plastic cup, so I left the gecko cup and all outside.

Oh tonight I got take out, called take away, from a Chinese Restaurant. It was run by Indians and Pakistanis and truthfully, it was the worst Chinese food I have ever eaten. Bleck.

Just wanted to let you know a bit more about Jeddah. And say a few words about Dennis who was also a retired high school art teacher. Once he came and taught a project in one of my intro to art classes how to make a face with clay, starting with creating the skull, then adding parts. I enjoyed the project so much that I have used it since (with his permission). In fact, I scheduled it into my 3D class here after the Ramadan break. I always think about Dennis when doing this project. Before it was gee, I gotta tell Dennis that the students made faces. Now, no Dennis to tell directly. I'm sure he'll be there in spirit.

He was such a good teacher and shared all he knew with humility, grace and a lot of heart. Crumb.

S of A

Nov 11.

School starts tomorrow. This has been a wonderful break. Amazingly, I accomplished much of what a wanted to do. The main reason for this is no longer playing computer games. I left them all in Minnesota.

A couple days ago I went to the beach. Also attached, pls find a pdf file of photographs of the beach and mostly of the Red Sea. It is beautiful.

Download Red Sea pdf

I went into the swimming area without beach shoes, which I later learned could be dangerous because there is some kind of clam or muscle which is poisonous if you step on it. Only the good die young, so I was in no real danger. Anyway, I will get the beach shoes, flippers and a snorkelset. The fish that made it through the fence which protects the swimming beach from larger fish or sharks were beautiful little things and very unafraid of people. They came up to me and I walked to them. Later, as you will see in the attached file, I went to the sandy point where the snorkelers and scuba people go.

Though I didn't go in with the right equipment, some beautiful larger fish were swimming around just by the stairs and on the reef. They also were unafraid.

Women are not supposed to scuba dive in Saudi Arabia, but some do anyway, but they are still quite proper so they wear a special hood while underwater and then put their tarhas (scarves) on as soon as they get out of the water.

I made sure not to take photos of people when I was shooting images at the beach. One can get into trouble if one is blatant about it.

So, that's it for now.


at November 14, 2005 9:45 AM