I Didn’t Know Her.

While I was living in Saudi Arabia, there were many many times when I would get bored and frustrated. I didn’t have a ton of things to do. I didn’t have a car to go drive when I wanted. Most of the year was too hot to comfortably go on walks and most of my time there, I never really felt safe to do so. The frustration that came along with that was constant. Even in good times, it was still there just around the corner. Now onto my point…
I spent a lot of time reading on the internet. Searching out interesting blogs, and sometimes falling down useless rabbit holes. One blogger that I followed was a girl younger than myself, married to a Saudi and living in Riyadh with their (toddler) daughter. She was a woman of many words, and her entries either made me relax and feel like I wasn’t alone or they fired me up because I didn’t agree with what she was saying. Normal stuff while reading about another’s life…
I really was able to understand some of the frustrations she felt being in Saudi, and found her stories so interesting. I understood the conversations in her post regarding her living in Saudi and the sometimes, odd questions and surprise that others would have. I read, with interest, her posts on motherhood, as I was pregnant while living in Saudi myself. I wanted to meet her when she wrote about her family both in the Ozarks and in Saudi. I wanted to debate her when I read about her conversion and some of the things she did because of her religion. But in general, I sorta felt like I knew her through her blog.
Last summer I read that she was having another child and I was feeling good about reading how a second child would change her life stories. Blogs and people can be curious things. Its kinda like getting a letter from someone when the email notification comes up. Get that cup of coffee ready, cause you know its gonna be a long read, kinda thing.

Over the past couple months I have been wondering what had happened as I hadn’t gotten the notifications anymore. Today while eating my lunch, I looked up her blog and read the last post. It was full of pain and doctor visits (here in the States. Her frustration with the medical policies she kept running into, and her travel back to Saudi to be back with her husband and get medical (affordable) treatment in her home of Riyadh. As I was reading along I thought the pain seemed odd. and then she signed off stating that she would post more later. I do the same thing. But there wasn’t one… I scrolled down and started reading the comments and discovered that she had died of cancer last fall. She had her baby and three months later died. I have no idea if her children are living in Saudi (most likely they are) I have no idea if she died in Saudi with or without her parents by her side. Things like this hit me harder since having a baby, and this is another reason why I still struggle with living abroad. Because I wouldn’t be near my family if something happened. I, still even typing this later, can’t keep the tears from flowing. I never met this girl. but my heart is broken over her death. And it breaks my heart when young babies lose their mommies.

I want to send her parents a card.

Giving my daughter a longer hug when she wakes up from her nap-wifeabroad (living in the States for now)

 

The Dominican Republic

10/13/2016

Last Wednesday we arrived in the Dominican after 8pm. Behind schedule due to an impossibly short stop in NC that didn’t allow us enough time to get to the other gate for our next flight. The gates were closed and we had to be re-routed. They sent us to Santiago airport instead of Puerto Plata. This also was putting us even farther from our destination. However, we were able to arrive at our destination the day before Miami canceled all of its flights due to hurricane Matthew. It all worked out well, because if we had stayed in Miami it would have been days of being stuck.

This is a glimpse of traveling with a baby in an airport.

 Fortunately we were able to get our ride to come out farther. I had looked up an estimate for taxi fees online, and it was going to be about 150 US Dollars. Our ride (Angelo from Manitoba Canada) agreed to pick us up for 100. Plus he was friendly and educated in the area, so there was no confusion as to where we were going. It was a two hour ride from the airport. The downside was that it was at night and so we missed the fantastic mountain views.

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The sign when we arrived.

We arrived at our new home for the next few months late at night. Tired and exhausted from the travel, we basically just wanted to rest. The apartment (studio style with a bed and mini fridge and bathroom) was as I had expected it to be with the exception of a lacking door to the toilet. This was not my idea of comfortable accommodations. It was hot, no fan, no ac,…hot! About thirty minutes into the stay my husband did say that it wasn’t going to work for the next three months. I was relieved.

1475778788455The one room studio.

The next day we made arrangements with the manager to move to another unit. This did mean more money out of our budget, but it had a kitchen space and stove to cook, a small fridge to store our food, and a futon. Plus a bedroom and bathroom, with a door. And it had fans! This is what I would consider a more adequate space to live in for a family of three. I’m so thankful for the floor fans that keep the air moving.

The porch and view of our current apartment.

I had purchased a kid-pod baby bed tent that is good for traveling. But thanks to the temperatures, it doesn’t work here. So, we are co sleeping on a queen sized bed. I have never missed the Pak-n-Play as much as I do now.

I have underestimated the heat on an island for the second time in my life. Sri Lanka, and the Dominican Republic…Its bloody hot!!!

More to be posted soon from the Dominican, aka paradise -wifeabroad

No Return

My last post in April has left a huge gap in information. I arrived in the States to somewhat chilly temps, and they quickly changed to the lovely summer days that I had missed while I was away. Tank tops, and shorts became my normal choice in clothes for myself, and Onesie’s for my daughter. We were able to go outdoors every single day and enjoy the air, the birds, and insects singing. Back in May while having my morning coffee, with Baby V. on my lap, I kept having this dread in my belly about going back to Saudi. It didn’t go away over time, in fact it got worse as time went on. One day (I believe it was in July) after reading three separate news stories on bombings in Saudi (not Hofuf, where I lived) I just felt like I had reached a point of no return. I was mad, and yes, fear was setting in. My gracious husband and I had a talk that night and he basically told me that I needed to decide if I was going to get on the plane in August (already booked flight) or not. I chose to skip the flight and not return. To him, it was a simple decision, and to me it was torture, I knew that going back wouldn’t be good for me, and I knew that not going back, meant being under my moms roof (I’m very thankful she has allowed me to stay with her) and being separated from my husband for an unsure amount of time. Also, he was missing our baby as she was growing up fast. After making the not so light decision to stay in the States for the rest of the summer, I literally felt so much lighter. I don’t have the dread anymore! I can enjoy the summer.

I wont get into all the details of good and bad about the life that I had in Saudi. Ill need to update my about post I think, but the wifeabroad name will remain the same as my husband and I and our little baby V. still plan to travel as much as possible. There are so many unknowns down the road for us. I’m nervous, and excited about it.

And I’m Thankful For…

The great Shawarma from Maze restaurant in Hofuf. The best in the entire city. If you haven’t gone there, go. Its not family, but if you are a lady, you can pick up.

The many trips to Bahrain. The escape from Saudi life, yet still close by.

The friendships. The only thing that kept me going sometimes were friends.

Having a baby, healthy and safe. Pick your hospital wisely, in my opinion there are some sketchy ones there too. I personally went to Al Moosa. State of the art place, with helpful staff. If I ever have another baby, I think a part of me will miss the visits to Dr. Zaynab. A part of me hopes she will read this one day. I loved her smile.

The doughnut runs my husband made for me, there were also many McDonald’s runs too (especially when I was pregnant)

Being creative in the kitchen and with the grocery shopping. Its fun and challenging when you may not have exactly what you are used to.

The many many laps walked around the shopping malls. Some days it was the only way to get any exercise in.

Constant growth of a city meant that there were always new shops or restaurants to explore. Some were duds, some were pleasant surprises.

I’m so blessed to have received a kind message just asking how I was from time to time, from fellow expats who knew that maybe I just needed to know that I was being thought of.

Towards the end of my time there, my family and a few others would get together on Monday nights for a dinner where we would all pitch in on the food (home cooked or bought) and it was such a lovely time of gathering together to laugh and talk.

I will always appreciate the young family who opened their doors to us on our first thanksgiving in Hofuf. Thank you JA and LA, for lovely dinners in your home and making a holiday festive when we were all abroad and missing our families.

I will always cherish the thunderstorms that would come through in the winter. It was such a treat to see rain and lightning in the desert.

We had an SUV that treated us good for a bit, but then when it finally died, we rented. I will never forget the car rentals that were always white, and sometimes beat up. There was one that had brown stains over the entire interior as if a soda had exploded. But they gave us reliable transportation to and from the grocery.

Always loved the get-to-gethers that we would have with friends. It helped get through all the rough days in Saudi. It made many insane days, saner (LM, you are a gem! Thank you for your friendship. I hope to see you again someday)

I miss my friends overseas. I will to keep in touch as much as possible, and hope to hear from them as well over the years. Some have already left Saudi, and have moved on to different places, while some are still there, working and raising their families. I think about them daily. I do love how social media allows us to see some bits of peoples lives. Facebook and Instagram is great for this sort of thing.

I’m so very thankful that this is how my married life pretty much started (living in Saudi). It helped us grow together, fight together, cry together, and love together and share many cups of coffee together.

In about a month we will most likely be on our way to another place…And I’ll post a photo of sand and ocean.

Until then-wifeabroad (from the States)

Random Saudi-ness (I couldn’t think of a good title)

3/8/2015

The weather here in Saudi has been so beautiful this past week. The mornings are cool and the afternoons are getting pretty warm, but not hot. I’m still in the mental stage of looking forward to summer time temperatures, and then I remember that summer temps here mean stay inside! So I really like the fact that we can have the windows open 24/7 this time of year.

My husband invited a family over for dinner about a month ago. I cooked up tacos hoping they would like it. I had not met them, my husband had worked with the other husband. So new family over for dinner one night, and it turned out really nice. They have two young girls, who are super cute. We then got invited over to their place for dinner I think it was about a week ago. They live about 40 minutes from us, and what feels like country living since we drove past many date trees on our way out to their place. Once again, a wonderful dinner was had. I really enjoy great company here. It always seems to give me a bit more energy for this place. Especially, when I know that I am not alone in some of the feelings I have here as a female. We also got together for a dinner out last Monday. We met up at this place that looks like a fort on the outside, but you drive in and the roads are filled with shops. There is this outdoor space (for families) that is lined with booths where women sell home cooked meals. It was an experiment of sorts, since we didn’t really know what some of the foods were, that we ordered. But it was fun to try new things. There was one dish, that looked like oatmeal, but tasted like salty chicken. It kinda messed with my head every time I took a spoonful. We walked around a bit after the meal and window shopped. The religious police confronted us and told the other husband to tell me to cover my hair at one point. *sigh* I just feel like there are some things I will never understand. I know it’s a cultural thing, but it isn’t a law. And for the life of me I can’t wrap my head around it. Pun intended! I could go on and on about it…but it won’t matter. Because this couple has children, my husband and I can take them to the Toy City here in town sometime. Yes, ever since I got here, my husband has wanted to go to Toy City. It’s an indoor amusement park for kids. I kept telling him we couldn’t go, but now we can borrow kids so that he can go play! J

Vitamin Palace, is a great place to get a smoothie or juice concoction of some sort. We went two nights in a row this weekend and man, that place is so busy! The menu is a small book. I had the Beet, tomato, and carrot drink. It tasted like a garden smells. If you like that sort of thing,  you will know what I  mean. It was good. The window is filled with a real fruit display. It’s huge, and the picture I took doesn’t really do it justice. I also added a picture of part of the menu. No offense needs to be taken. It just seems to me to contradict the life here, and add to the #thingsthatdontmakesense feeling I get quite often.  After all, so many things are taboo.

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My husband and I went to get our teeth cleaned on Saturday. Oh boy,  that was painful. I don’t remember a dentist ever being so rough. I even have a few areas of missing enamel and he understood that it was going to be sensitive, yet he still hit those spots multiple times. Glad to have it done though. My teeth feel smooth! And the financial part of it was quite a surprise. Total for the both of us was under 50 U.S. dollars.

I’m not usually in a “hey, lets eat Ramen” mood, but my husband picked up this Green Chili flavor of Ramen, so I cooked some up for lunch after we got home from the dentist. This stuff is burn your mouth hot! Surprisingly tasty!

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Let’s see…what else has been going on…

A friend of ours went to Korea and brought me back a beautiful scarf, and kimchi for my husband. I can smell it, along with and the pepper, garlic, fish sauce mixture he makes every time the fridge door is opened. J

Have tried a couple new recipes with success but was mildly disappointed in the texture of cauliflower cheese sticks. Super easy to make, but not going to be a repeat. Oh Pinterest, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

We are looking forward to our small vacation next month. The hotel is booked. We aren’t going too far out of the country, but excited for the break to happen before the weather gets too hot. And then come June, we head back to the States for another visit.

My latest illustration (untitled)DenialHave a lovely day! -wifeabroad