Saturday, January 28, 2017

Arabian Nights

One of the coolest aspects of my life and my career is when I get to experience something that most people will never get to do.  I have had snowball fights on erupting volcanoes, I've passed out at Oktoberfest. I've attended a papal funeral and gone SCUBA diving in the Blue Hole.  Last night, Sara and I and some friends of are got to go to a Saudi gala in the middle of the desert, held in honor of, I kid you not, some Arabian horses.  

The whole evening was spectacular.  The event was held out at the desert stables which are home to some very well-bred Champion Arabian horses.   They are show horses, not race horses.  During the day, there was a festival showcasing these horses (which we didn't attend) and this was the gala dinner to conclude the festivities.  The event was under the stars where a dance floor of sorts was built with carpets and some 30 foot palm trees that I am pretty sure were brought in solely for this occasion.  On the dance floor, a bedouin band played and sang throughout the night.  The music was a few drums, a single stringed instrument I had never seen before, and men's voices and clapping.  The 30 member band sang call-and-answer songs that echoed off the surrounding dunes.  On occasion, a few members of the troupe would get up and dance.  Later, more men - guests - joined in the dancing.  Although there were women at the party (probably one out of five guests were women), we never saw any dancing.

In addition to dancing, there was an exhibition of the horses.  Arabian horses are known for being lightening quick for short distances, but not as strong as horses we are used to in America.  I don't really know what I am supposed to be looking for, but these horses were very pretty and powerful.  The highlight of the evening, the highlight of our lives if you ask the announcer was the introduction of EKS Alejandro.  They spun up the hype machine to 11 for this horse.  The intro was so over the top, I assumed we were about to see a horse that was like 30 feet tall or something.  In the end...just a horse.

The man said I would tell the world about the night I saw EKS Alejandro.  Apparently, he was right.
After the horse show, they served the dinner.  Five hundred people converged on a sumptuous buffet 100 feet long, with salads of all sorts, savory pastries and meat pies, fish, meat, rice, stew, lamb on a spit and it was all delicious.  We filled our plates and ate until we were stuffed - all failing miserably to identify our favorite part.  After dinner, we conversed with a pair of Saudi men who sat our table and heard stories about their lives in Saudi, their experiences in America ("what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" translates into Arabic well), and heard stories about their children.  Sadly, this was the first extended conversation I have had with a Saudi, but all the more enjoyable for that fact.

After dinner, the music resumed and they continued to dance long into the night.  We huddled on comfortable couches on the desert sand.  We laughed about EKS Alejandro.  We even had the chance to ride some camels.

Dot: "Hey, I used to just read this blog.  NOW I am in it!"

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