November 13, 2006

Saudilogue 27

I went to a Halloween party here last night. It was a costume party and I was surprised at the variety of costumes considering that you cannot buy adult costumes in Jeddah. Toys R Us has kids stuff. There were a few more belly dancers than one might expect in the states. One of the ladies at our table had an axe in her head (plastic, only plastic) and a rubber knife in her stomach. She gave up on the long nails part way through dinner. Nails were too long to enable eating. It was a charity affair. The funds raised pay the tuition for 14 –18 non-Saudi kids in Jeddah so they can go to school.

I thought it might rain in the last two days. Skies were very cloudy and the wind was brisk. A few drops may have fallen or I could have imagined that. However, no storm or thunderstorm. Crumb.

I notice that Ramadan is blamed for the violence in Iraq. That is like blaming violence on Christmas. A truce by warring factional parties in Iraq was signed here in Mecca just before Eid (the celebration of the end of Ramadan), King Abdullah has been trying to bring the fighting to an end, as he is not only the King of Saudi Arabia, but the Protector of the Two Mosques (Mecca and Medina), so he feels obligated to try to settle the 1000 year old rift in Islam.

In some ways the rift is much like the Reformation in Christianity.

Then there is the furor over veils. This has been quite interesting to watch. Though the abayas are not really a sign of chatteldom, some women here do not like wearing them, or have made them fashion statements. I saw a woman wearing a beautiful burgundy abaya in a grocery store yesterday.

Also, during Ramadan stores do not open until 9:00 at night, I have not done any major shopping for a very long time and not been to Balad since I returned to Saudi. So, for those of you who gave me money to purchase abayas or blouses, as the weather cools I will head off to Balad to make those purchases and well as see if there is a reasonably priced way of getting these goodies to you before I return next August. Keep the faith. I have not forgotten about you.

S of A

Sunday morning school started with a bang. Thunder that is – lightning. It was so cool. I awoke in the middle of the night to the sights and sounds of a thunderstorm. Then next morning it was still raining. I have had my first experience with a storm in the desert.
The temperature dropped to 70F, the coldest daytime temperature since I arrived.

Remember, Jeddah does not have any storm sewers, so the water backs up quickly. Streets were flooded, traffic slowed to a crawl. We left the compound at 7:10, heading for school. It took nearly two hours to travel the distance normally covered in 35 minutes. The Ring Road was a sight! The road was dry, but half the town decided to try it so there were six lanes of southbound traffic (both shoulders were traffic ladened) plus another three lanes on the sand. Cars were going under the underpasses on the upward slope of the structure. Nine lanes had to merge into four so we could then merge with another three coming in from another freeway. Eventually we made it off the Ring Road to a major thoroughfare. The water was over the curb and still rising. We talked about a video camera on the bus. At the next intersection, five men, two of them cops, tried to direct traffic approaching the intersection correctly, as well as those driving the wrong way on a one way street hoping to miss some of the congestion.

Finally made it to school, only to have classes cancelled at 10:30 because of the rain and that very few students made it. Stalled cars. Hydroplaning Pepsi trucks – you name it. Most of the men wear thobes (the long white robes), so they were walking along the streets holding up their thobes.

I now know how much water needs to amass outside my villa door to avoid a long drive for nothing. It has been an amazing experience.

One of the ladies on the bus said that a bad storm was coming. Bad storm? What is this, I asked. It has rained. Oh, says I. The advertised storm did not appear.

If it has been a sandstorm, though, I understand they do shut everything down because no one can see.

Meanwhile, I am getting better at square dancing. This is like a class somehow and by the end of the year I will have some kind of name tag that indicates I am some kind of recognized square dancer and can dance with any group in the world. Okay. I will be part of the Red Sea Squares.

S of a

at November 13, 2006 10:26 AM