Total Pageviews

Saturday, 30 April 2011

The One Where We Had Easter in Saudi!

A stark reminder of not being in the Western world - Easter Sunday is a work day! However Good Friday is our weekend. So Easter celebrations will have to take place then!

These kind of holidays should always be a family occasion, yet none of us have our families around us, so there is the need to improvise!

We invited all the staff around for Easter dinner, a full on, 3 course dinner.

We had prepared for this in advance, and the staff had brought Easter eggs back for the kids and sprouts for Easter dinner - what more do you need?

The kids left their baskets out on the evening before and awoke to them being filled with all sorts - eggs, sweets, chocolate bunny - although this year no stuffed Easter bunny - an Easter camel instead!

We had all the table laid out, with bunny footprints and Easter napkins and an Easter tree crafted by the kids.

Watching all our friends sat around the table, enjoying each others' company and the food was a real warming experience, a real reminder of family.

And a reminder that our friends are of great importance, especially living this kind of lifestyle where your 'home' can change every few years!

So we began with a choice of homemade chicken lover pate or homemade broccoli and Stilton soup - catering for different tastes and vegetarian! Although some people had both! :-) (which always makes the chef's happy!)

For our main we had a leg of lamb with all the trimmings, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, sprouts, and all of the other vegetables seasoned with flavored butters.

For dessert, traditional trifle, of course and a home made cheesecake, followed by the coffees and after eight mints! There are some traditions that just follow you, no matter where in the world you may be!

Our guests were so gracious and happy, enjoying every bit of food and making the appropriate 'yummy' noise at intervals!

The kids loved the fact that there were other grown ups all around, giving them the opportunity of attention from all angles - and to add to that so were we - a nice little respite!

The day had begun at 1.30pm and we partied through until our last guest left at midnight, a truly fabulous and fun filled day, that varied from the civilised, to games on the Wii to dancing to the Rocky Horror Show music later in the evening!

This day made me realise, that wherever in the world you are you can make the most of celebrations. Just because the customs may be different in other countries, doesn't mean you can't keep a bit of what you are used to. It is good for the soul, it is a reminder of your roots and who are you and what you are about. So OK, it may have been a bit of a different kind of Easter here in Saudi, but it was Easter all the same, great friends, good food and most importantly cadbury's cream eggs!!!! Really, what more do you need?

The One with the Mother's Day Adventure!

So it is the 'Easter Holidays', I say this in the loosest possible sense as it isn't actually Easter! Everyone has gone home to their respective countries, but we have stayed here in Saudi. There's lots to do, Jason has plenty to do at work and with packing and organising for our move to Qatar, we are busy!

But it is the holidays after all so we need to do something for a break!

We have decided to go to the Red Sea for Mother's day weekend. We have been before, but this time we are going a bit further around the coast, hopefully it will be cleaner and more private, allowing the abaya to 'fall' off and we can camp overnight!

So the car is all packed, food and provisions stocked up high.

We head down those glorious mountains again. A view I will never get tired of. I don't think many people would associate beauty with Saudi, but I can see it. You can drive just outside the town and there you are in the middle of a mountain range, seeing camels, monkeys and breathtaking views!

We drove a few hours to the town of Al Birk, although blink and you will miss it. We know there is a beach somewhere, we drive for 2 hours back and forth to get to a nice spot, and we find one.

A perfect and secret paradise spot in Saudi! Who'd have though it?

We park up, windbreaks out for privacy, table up, kids sun-screened to the max and the fire on ready for dinner!

The liberating feeling of freedom is indescribable! From having to wear an abaya regardless of heat to being able to splash in the water with the kids as if we were in the Med! Perfect!!

We cooked our chicken on the open fire and enjoyed the calm and peace that the Red Sea was giving us.

For dessert, it was of course, marshmallows and oreos. Sitting around the campfire without a care in the world!

I finally got the kids washed off and into their PJ's and into bed - which was in fact the back of the car (although far more comfortable than it sounds!) They watched a movie (Hmmmm can't get away from modern technology, however at one with nature you try to be!) And EVENTUALLY they went off to sleep, giving Jason and me some much needed quiet time!

We sat for an indefinite amount of time on the beach smoking the shisha and watching the fiddler crabs who had come out in the masses!

There is something about the ocean that just calms you, something I miss living in the mountains.

Our idyllic setting was slightly tampered with due to the strange and unnerving goings on from passing cars and their occupants! In fact to the point we did almost leave. The horror stories that you hear all come flooding back about kidnappings etc, needless I am writing this so no harm, or even close to, came to us! but late at night in a strange place, you mind can and will play tricks on you!

Let's just say it wasn't the most relaxing nights sleep we have ever had! Firstly the worry of being approached during our sleep didn't help, but the heat! WOW! In a car with the midnight temperature of over 30 degrees, it was a little stuffy, so we had an every hour on the hour ritual of putting on the AC!

As bad as they may sound, it actually wasn't! It is all part of the experience!!!

So the sun rose and our next day began, with the kids running into the sea at 8am in their PJ's! A cup of tea in 'bed' for mommy and homemade mother's day cards! Really what more could any mother want on Mother's Day! It was perfect!

We drove into town and got some breakfast, Daal and bread! Eating it on the beach was the perfect end to the perfect morning!

Jason bought some fish from the market too (as fishing wasn't exactly productive on this shore) So there we had lunch sorted too!

It really was idyllic!

The midday sun was beginning to take it's toll, so we slowly packed up the car and headed back up the mountain, homeward bound.

For two days we could forget all our worries and stresses and enjoy our time together as a family. Having the experiences we traveled to find. We were checked by the border police a few times, but if anything it made us feel safe, rather than inconvenienced.

The weekend was the most perfect Mother's Day gift I could have ever asked for, and the nice clean bath I got into at the end of it to clean of all the salt and sand was a little slice of heaven!

Happy Mother's Day!