Saturday, December 16, 2017

Things I'll miss from Saudi

We're headed back to Washington for our next tour and even though we don't leave until summer, we have already started dreaming of trips to Target, college football Saturdays, and being in the same time zones as our family.  But I have spent the past few days thinking of things about our time in Riyadh that I will miss.

  1. The commute to work.  Without a doubt, you simply cannot beat the commute here in Riyadh.  It only takes me fifteen minutes door to desk walking through a park each day.  In the evening, I am often greeted by the call to prayer echoing in the evening air.  The best part of the short commute is a get to spend so much time with Sara and the boys.
  2. New public artwork in Riyadh.  Throughout the city over the past year, the government has installed a number of public works art projects.  Most of them are beautifying projects along the highways (which are generally very ugly).  My favorite is at a nearby interchange to the DQ they installed about two dozen up lit green metal trees.  They look like a scene out of a Dr. Seuss book.
  3. Winter weather.  The weather is brutal 8 months out of the year.  Super brutal.  But those other four months are fantastic.  We are right in the middle of the wonderful period of wonderful weather with highs in the 70s and brisk morning walks to work.
  4. Riyadh community - since there isn't a whole lot going on here in Riyadh, the community is pretty welcoming and friendly.  We have made some very good friends here and Jack has a wonderful toddler group of friends.
  5. Affordable domestic help.  We have a nanny who helps with childcare and cleans the house.  I love not having to do laundry or clean bathrooms.  It is so much better to spend that time playing with the boys.
  6. Call to prayer.  There is beauty in this daily devout ritual.  When you first arrive, the call feels loud and obtrusive every time you hear it.  Over time, it begins to blend into your day and become a part of the ambiance of life in the Islamic world.  After almost 18 months here, I welcome the lyrical melody of the call.  It brings peace and some comfort.  This time of year, the call for evening prayer generally comes as I walk home from work and see the palm trees and mosque silhouetted in the setting sun.  I will miss it.
  7. Magic trash elves.  In DC, failure to move your trashcan the 3 feet from the front of your house to the edge of the sidewalk would often result in no trash pick-up for a week.  Occasionally, you'd find yourself hunting for a less than full trashcan down the street to deposit the overfull trash bag.   None of that here.  We have a locked outdoor trash room off our car port.  There is another locked door that leads to the street.  Almost once a day, someone comes and empties the trash room.  Just get your HHE and have two tons of paper to dispose - no problem, the trash elves will take it.  Throw a kids birthday party and have five trash bags worth of party trash - trash elves will get rid of it before you even know there is a problem.  Neither Sara nor I have ever seen the garbage men - we don't know when they come... but they are good at their jobs!
There are other things I will surely miss, but this is my first post since January (lot has happened since then), so we'll stop here.

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