From Jamie's Philippines Pics

We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.

We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.

Thanks for checking us out!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
- Mark Twain

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
- Maya Angelou






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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Shopping Day

We didn’t really get out and about until we were picked up by a coworker and whisked around town in his car. Remember, we can’t drive yet, so we are at the mercy of others. He gave us a quick tour of the surroundings before we settled on a store called the Hyper Panda. It is very similar to a WalMart. Jamie and I had a list of household supplies that we needed to round out our settling in as well as get some groceries for the week. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the goods offered and even some name brands that we recognized.

This was our first time in “public,” so we experienced firsthand the women wearing their abayas and hijab. The abaya is the long sleeve black robe that women must wear whereas the hijab is the headscarf. Some women were dressed head to toe and veiled, some had an opening for their eyes, and some their head uncovered. Jamie had borrowed an abaya so she was wearing it. I’m not sure I will ever feel comfortable with this scenario, but we’ll see. More on this later I’m sure.

As we were leaving, it was time for the call to prayer. All of the stores in Saudi Arabia shut down for the call to prayer. If you are in the store at the time, they will allow you to stay and wander around, but you won’t be able to purchase anything because no one will be there to help you. We left just at the 3:15 call to prayer was beginning. The Muslims pray 5 times per day beginning just before sunrise and ending after sunset. The prayer times change constantly, so we’ll receive a schedule so we’ll know when the prayer times are. If you are outside, you know because you can hear the mosques’ loudspeakers throughout the city.

Our next stop was a hardware store similar to ACE hardware, not quite Home Depot, followed by a trip to Tamimi’s, which is the new name for a Safeway. Here, you can purchase many Western products, so we stocked up on groceries for the week. As a reminder, there are NO pork or alcohol products in Saudi Arabia AT ALL. They are illegal, and they take it seriously. There are some families that make their own beer, wine, and liquor inside the compound, and we can do whatever we want inside the walls.

What fascinated me with the grocery store was all of the men shopping. Because women can’t drive, they really do not go out as much to shop. Men conduct the business for the most part, so the stores are full of men. You do see plenty of women, but it just seemed to me the checkout lines were full of men, particularly on Friday, their holy day.

We dropped our stuff off and then rested for a few minutes before being hosted by our buddy couple that evening. We had some of their home made spirits and some traditional Ramadan snacks, fried cheese and a delicious minced chick pea and meatball. We then headed to a more traditional style Arabac restaurant where our meal consisted of flat bread served with dipping sauces of hummus, baba ganoush, tabouleh, and one other I can’t remember. Served with 2 large servings of rice as well as a family platter of various grilled vegetables, meats, and potatoes. It was very good and we’ll definitely like going back.

Stores are open during Ramadan at night, sometimes as late as 3 or 4 in the morning, so we then went to “Ladies Street” to purchase Jamie an abaya. There are several stores pretty much identical that sell abayas anywhere from $25 to $100. I’m sure the wealthier Saudi families have fancier ones though. Jamie settled on one for about $30 and received a good deal.
Not many pictures yet because I haven’t been really taking any. We also aren’t really quite sure about the customs of taking pictures in public and it might be hit or miss. We are going to try though. We have the 2 videos of the compound if you haven’t seen those, but we have been so busy with actually buying things that we haven’t really taken any pictures. We also won’t have Internet in our villa for probably more than a month, so I’ll be posting either at school or borrowing Internet at someone else’s villa.

Tomorrow, we start school and we are very excited. I’m actually typing this at 4:00 am because I can’ t really sleep. You all will read this several days after it all happened, but I am trying to go ahead and write so it will be fresh in my mind.


Anonymous said...

I have a few friends that have spent time there. One of the common comments was that it was a surreal experience - like living in Disney World or one of those little reenactment towns. They can't be serious. After you get out of sight, they must all go home and take off the giant Mickey Mouse head and Sleeping Beauty costume and lead normal lives.

-david brown

Tom and Eileen Rider said...

Man, great stuff you all! I'm glad it is all coming together for you both. I need to update our blog. Wow! You guys are there and living an adventure. Nice to know you cannot stay late. Looking forward to seeing pictures & your impression of the schools. Tom

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