August 30, 2012

Robin Hood, Saudi Style

(DISCLAIMER: Sorry we haven't posted in a while - internet has been spotty or out for a while, but it should be back up and running like normal soon.  Onward!)

Sitting in a Starbucks in Al Khobar.
Don't worry, we're in the family section.
This is AFTER I got yelled at for ordering in the single men's section.
When I was a kid, my Dad kept a ginormous bag of loose change on a high shelf in my parent’s closet.  (Andrew's Note: mine too, in a drawer!!)  I guess men don’t like to carry change because throughout the year the bag would continue to grow with everything for pennies to quarters to Euros. [My parents have this minor obsession with traveling].   My siblings and I discovered this change bag when I was around 11 years old and everything changed (PUN!) from then on.  Anytime we needed money we planned secret raids on the change bag.  (Chris… you watch the front door in case Dad comes home at 10:33 AM (???).  Lindsey…. Pinky promise you won’t tell Mom.  [Lindsey shakes her head “no”].  Okay, then I’ll burn your denim hat.  [Picture a lone tear escaping her 4 year old eyes]. Although I guess they weren't so secretive because we usually raided when my Dad was at work.  This was in the days before everything was bought digitally, so I can’t honestly remember what it was that I needed 4 quarters for as an eleven year old?  Maybe so I could go to the used book store and buy Star Trek novels…?  Right, that was it. 

I think she wore this hat for 5 years straight. (You're welcome, Lindsey :-D)
Anyway, I’m going somewhere with this.  From our last two blog posts the number one question we’ve been asked is if we ended up hiring a yard boy.  I promise the story above applies, just give me a second. 
We did hire one.  Actually, Andrew did.  I was too overwhelmed by the sheer number of applicants for the job and stopped answering the door.  Andrew, in a moment of surprising efficiency, (I like to keep expectations low so that when I do something small, it's highly praised) came home one day, walked outside, and came back in 32 seconds later. 

Andrew:  “We have a yard boy.”    
Me:  “Really?!  You mean I don’t have to mow the lawn and tend the gardens in this heat??  Thanks husband, you really do take care of me.”
Andrew:  “…...….” 

“Anyway, his name is Manik, he's from Bangledesh, and he doesn’t speak English very well.”  

(Readers of the blog will remember that speaking English was my ONLY requirement for a yard boy.)

So Manik comes everyday, sometimes with a sickle (the size of a pencil), sometimes with a lawnmower, and he tends our grass and flower beds.  But here’s the deal on the ‘flower’ beds.  When you move in they are empty.  Lots of sand.  24 hours after we hired Manik, our front yard was full of plants.  This is where you might be thinking, Oh wow!  What a great yard boy!  He went and purchased plants for their yard using their money!


Around here when someone moves away, the yard boys on camp descend on the moved-out house like Chile to his food bowl each night.  They strip the yard of all its plants, trees and sometimes even the grass.  And bring them to OUR yard.  : )  Much like my siblings and I with my Dad’s change bag, I’m pretty sure there is no regret involved, and because every yard boy on camp does it, the expats don’t even bat an eye because their sisters aren't threatening to burn their prized denim hats. (Poor Lindsey) You just have to watch out when you go on vacation because another yard boy might think you’ve moved, and then you come back and your prized cactus is suddenly looking quite smug in your neighbor’s yard.  Darned cacti. 

So our front yard is now a veritable Aloe Vera farm.  (Good thing, get a sunburn here checking the mail)  Manik planted a slew of them.  And I really appreciated his effort in keeping the theme the same across the yard using only different strains of the plant.  Lord knows how many yards he had to raid to get that many aloe vera plants. But its like the Saudi Arabian version of Robin Hood.  Rob from the expat's luxurious yards to give to the new expat's yards.  (Ahhhh, now I get the title)  Having this many aloe vera plants also makes me nervous that something very bad is about to happen to me in the skin department.  It's like my front yard knows I'm about to get a gut wrenching sun burn.  I try not to think about it.

My plants... plotting against me.

Andrew just read this and tells me that this post isn't really informing our families of what we've been up to in the past 3 weeks.  I disagree.  The conniving aloe vera plants and yard boy situation has certainly kept me busy.  But here are a few pictures of everything else that's been happening.  

The husband comes home for lunch every day.  (That's how we eat each day.  Sitting very close to each other and eating with really wide mouths.)
It's sickeningly 1950s.  

We don't have bowls or measuring cups because they haven't arrived yet.  Making peanut butter cookies in my soup pot with a coffee mug as a measuring cup has made cooking... creatively fun. 

This is NOT milk.  I thought it was.  Ever had a cup of hot tea with yogurt in the tea?.... mmmmm ; )

Beef bacon.  And it's actually good!

This is the coffee shop on camp.  It's not too shabby!

Some of our new friends, all new to camp and teachers like us!

Hmmm... the real reason we like the coffee shop. 

This pic was taken after my first outside long run.
I underestimated the heat and didn't move from the couch the rest of the day.
We also don't have blankets yet, but we do have beach towels!  

We got our entire house painted!  It looks so much more cozy!    (Notice the nice install job on the surround sound speakers, thank you very much.  No microwave or vacuum, but we have nice movie sound)
 There was a big Eid Celebration on camp last week, we went to check out the food.
This bread was made was made in a barrel with lot of fire!

Told you!

Andrew did not steal this falcon.  But he thought about it.  (I COULD USE IT TO PROVE MY NOBILITY TO MY VASSALS BY SENDING IT OUT TO COLLECT THEIR RENT AND GENERALLY TERRORIZE THEIR THATCHED ROOF COTTAGES.   ahem.   Or something like that.  Whatever.) 

Erin and I in the Falcon tent.  Never thought I'd say that sentence : )

The festival concluded with music and dancing.  (Gotta get me one of those drums)

Oh, and we borrowed a golf cart!  It's a rather warm way to get around, but certainly cooler than walking.  



  1. Wow, impressive stuff!! I'm adjusting better to the change because you all seem SO HAPPY! Love all the pics...keep it coming!

  2. Woo hoo, hooray for the return of the Internet and blog updates!

  3. This is all so interesting and exciting to read about! Keep 'em coming! Oh, and Andrew's line about the falcon- I may have snorted a Pringle out my nose when I read that.

  4. Great blog - keep it going ! I've sent the link to our kids and friends back in the UK. Keith