Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Break 2012

We had two weeks off for spring break but decided to just chill here in Saudi. We took a day trip to Bahrain and another trip out to the desert before Rachel left, then we just spent most of our time here at the pool. There really isn't a whole lot to do here outside of the compound other than going shopping, but the compound has a great pool and plenty of kids to play with so it felt like a vacation retreat right here on our compound.

There were plenty of kids here on the compound for our kids to play with so it was a perfect relaxing break.

Sassy is just the cutest little dog. She loves to cuddle.
We had an Easter brunch and Easter egg hunt here at the compound.

The crew of kids here at the compound.
One of my projects during the break was to plant flowers in pots on our front porch. It is very brown here in Saudi so it's nice to have some color around. Even the smallest amount of color makes a difference. I'm really not a green thumb, hopefully they will survive for the next few months.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sassy and Marty's Wedding

During our Spring Break Vika and her friends arranged a wedding for our dog, Sassy, and our neighbors dog, Marty. They made invitations and passed them out to everyone on our compound. Then planned the outfits, seating, and refreshments. They took a whole week to plan and prepare for this special day.

It was a perfect day. Beautiful blue sky and not too hot. The bride and groom were quite the dazzling couple. The other dogs on the compound were also invited which included Marty's brother. It was quite the event.
The ceremony was simple and sweet. After the ceremony, the dogs sniffed each other and than took off to their own homes. Some honeymoon. Marty's parents were out of town, so he eloped. He was lonely the next day, so he dug out of his yard and then dug into ours. We were a little surprised to find him here. I guess he missed Sassy too much.

Very cute and fun......

Monday, April 9, 2012

Rachel's Last Day

On Rachel's last day we had the opportunity to go out and explore Saudi Arabia one last time with her. We headed out at 5:00 in the morning with two other families for a day in the desert. It was a two and half hour drive out to the Elephant Caves and Ship Rock. On the way we stopped at this camel market where they sale anything you would need for your camel.

Camel blankets, saddles and reins. This was one type of saddle that goes behind the camel hump.
Rachel was having a bitter sweet day. She was happy to be here with us but sad that it was going to be her last day here.
Here is another type of saddle that straddles the camel hump.
Camel reins in all types of styles.
They even had bling bling reins for that special camel. They actually have camel beauty contests looking for the most beautiful camel with the biggest lips. I'm sure these bling bling reins help bring out their beauty.
Our next stop was at King Abdul Aziz's Palace. It was fenced off so we couldn't get in to explore.

Across from the palace was an old abandoned village. Actually it is only about 60 years old. This was a village that was abandoned in the 1950's when Aramco and Oil brought in a lot of money. The king was very generous with the money so the villagers were able to build a more modern village across the street.
It was like being on a war set. Even though war didn't destroy this village, it looked like it.

Gavin and his traditional head scarf with his girls.

After the village we traveled out to the desert to Elephant Caves. We actually were out in the middle of nowhere. There really weren't any roads so our 4 wheel drive vehicles were very handy. We had to do a little off roading to get here.

These caves were once buried by the sand but the wind has slowly blown the sand to where the entrance of the cave is visible. On the ceiling of the cave were fossils of bones and tusks. They just prove that there were once large animals roaming this area.
Here you can see some of the bone fossils.
This looks like the pelvis or scapula bone of a rather large animal. Very close to it was the skull where you could see large teeth. Below was a fossil of a tusk. The tusks have been removed because of the value of the ivory but the imprint was still there.
Just another shot of the caves. You drive for miles without seeing much of anything but sand and then occasionally there are small hills or mountains.
As we were driving out in the desert we had to stop for this herd of camels. There were several camel herds and Bedouin camps. I'm sure they were wondering what all these foreigners were doing out here. Several weeks ago a group of our friends came out here and were stopped by a Bedouin man who wanted them to all come back to his tent. He said he would kill a goat for them. The group didn't have time so they were kindly trying to explain this but he kept insisting. He finally took his baby out of his truck and asked if they could all hold his baby. It is supposed to be bring lots of good luck to have a foreigner hold your child. We didn't get that kind of response but I'm sure they were curious why we were here.
Our next stop was at Ship Rock. It looks like a ship just out in the middle of nowhere. It once was a fort where the locals would go to hide from intruders. You had to crawl under the rock into a small cave that opened up into a hole that led to the top of the mountain. They had a ladder to climb up the hole. Once up on the mountain they could then see any intruders coming and if they tried to come up the hole, they would be able to defensively protect themselves by shooting down the hole. There wasn't any other way up to the top.

They also had another hole which was a well where they could get water while they lived at the top.
The family at the top.
The view down.
The view looking down the hole with the ladder.

After hiking around, we then had some fun 4 wheeling. Actually, doing donuts in the sand. It was crazy. Our friend Nathan is a pilot and he has no fear of speed. He was the craziest one. I have video of it but can't really upload them here very easily. All the kids got to drive the car, even Vika. I actually got to drive. My first time driving in Saudi.

We got back to our villa at 5:00 and had a few hours to clean up before we had to take Rachel to Bahrain for her flight back home. She had a 1:40 am flight so we didn't need to get to the airport until 11:30. We went out to dinner in Bahrain on our way and tried to not be sad. We had a fun four months with her here with us.

We got to the airport and were told that her flight to London was full so they asked if they could redirect her through Paris and then Paris straight to Salt Lake City. This was a much better flight that would cut off 5 hours of travel time. Of course we said yes. That made it a little easier leaving her knowing that she only had one layover in Paris rather than her other flight which was through London then Los Angeles then to Salt Lake.

It was sad saying goodbye but we will be back in Salt Lake in three months which will go by fast. Loved having her here and look forward to spending the summer with her.

Modeling Day

Vika and her friend Aliya decided to be models one day. Nicole did their makeup with an animal theme then they posed for their photo shoot around our compound. I guess the years of modeling in China have made an impact on Vika. She is quite the fashion guru and loves the camera.

Aliya had a Zebra face.
Vika had a Peacock face. Nicole was amazing with the makeup.

Isn't being a girl so fun?