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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

This was Steve’s and my fourth trip through Saudi Arabia as a couple. As residents of a GCC (Arabian Gulf) country, we cannot get visas to visit Saudi without a business invitation, but we can get transit visas to drive through to somewhere else. So, Steve and I have taken advantage of this opportunity to make some road trips. We drove to the UAE, Yemen and kuwait (sorry, my keyboard is having problems and I can’t capitalize certain letters)–all pre-kid adventures–and now Jordan. Each trip has taken us on a different route, which is fascinating, because Saudi is a large country featuring many different types of … sand. (ha ha) Seriously, I have been amazed by the unexpected beauty and differing landscapes of this desert country. On the trip to Yemen, we saw families of monkeys sitting by the roadside in the Western mountains and coconut-shaped huts peeking out of the dry grass in southwest Saudi. On this trip, we marvelled at the many different shades of sand, some very beautiful, and the striking rock formations.

Steve had to do all the driving, since women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, so I got to sit back and look at the scenery in between reading to the family and feeding people fruit, crackers, coffee, and peanut butter and nutella sandwiches (I never want to see another one as long as I live!)

The borders went very smoothly, the kids were pretty contented, and the ‘hotel’ that we stayed at in Arar was all that I expected and more (less, actually, in that I didn’t see any cockroaches).  low expectations are a good thing sometimes. We had been preparing the kids and ourselves for ‘adventure’–read ‘things going wrong’–but we were pleasantly surprised in that respect.

I really only have one notable incident to tell about the first trek between Bahrain and Wadi Ram in Jordan. Just after crossing the Jordanian border, one passes a small town called Mudawwara. We were looking for a dirt road going off to the left, supposedly sporting a signpost. As sunset neared and we had not found the turnoff, we turned back to Mudawwara to ask for some help. As far as I could tell, Mudawwara was made up of 15 or so bedouin tents, a few cinderblock houses, some goat pens, and a couple of government buildings. We pulled off the road toward the nearest home, which happened to be one of the cinderblock squares, which in my mind feels like it was shorter than I am and barely large enough to fit a family in–but it probably wasn’t really that small. A woman was walking toward it, so Steve voted for me to be the one to ask directions. Fortunately, bedouin Arabic in Jordan is a lot more similar to Bahraini Arabic than urban Jordanian dialect is, so I was able to communicate with her. She told us to keep going (farther than we had tried) until we came to the police station, and then to turn. Then she invited us into her home, which we politely declined.

Here is what was so striking to me about this encounter. She related to me as if I was not the least bit different than her. She didn’t treat me with distance, reserve, suspicion, or formality. It is difficult to describe the nuances of the interaction that make one feel like an outsider or an insider. I felt  like an insider with her, even though I was walking into a situation where I had ‘outsider’ written all over me. It was a very touching experience for me…one that I will tuck away in my shirt pocket and hope that it will soak into my heart in a way that allows me to give others that same gift. 

 

To see some more pictures of the trip, check out my facebook page.

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Going to Jordan

I have been getting ready for a family trip. All four of us are going to make the drive across Saudi Arabia to Jordan. I am very excited. It is the first long road trip we have made with the kids, and it will probably  be our last international trip for a long time.  I’m hoping Josh comes up with something to talk about in the car besides Star Wars. He is capable of generating more questions about the movie (and more specifically, the Game Cube Lego version of Star Wars) than George Lucas ever could have. Meanwhile, Bethany has a broken arm, and I’m hoping the cast won’t interfere with camel-riding. We are planning to stay in a Bedouin camp, ride camels, drive into Wadi Ram, visit Petra, avoid bedbugs, freeze our tails off, see friends in Amman, and probably some other things too. We have told the kids to look at this as an adventure (i.e. probably not all going according to plan!)

So I have been trying to get ready, doing my usual worrying about having enough food and clothing, while Steve urges us to pack lightly. I’m sure it has something to do with evolution. At least, I’m blaming my over-preparedness on biology.  

Here are a few pictures from when we went to Jordan in 2006. We were in the Dead Sea area.

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