So yesterday was probably one of the most interesting and challenging days we've had since we've moved to Saudi Arabia (of the whole week that we've been here). There are a lot of things that we need for the house and we need to buy a car too. Thursday is our "Saturday" so Mark was not working and he rented a suburban to take the family to Jeddah to do a little shopping.
The day started out nice, the Bishop and his family from our new ward here in Jeddah came to visit. It was really nice to meet them - they are from Ohio and have 4.5 kids - their oldest daughter is Megan's age, they have a 9 yo son that is the triplet's age, 2 younger daughters and a new baby due very soon. We got to spend a little time chatting about living as Americans in KSA which was fun.
So we headed off to Jeddah about 1:30. It takes about an hour to get there and the drive wasn't too bad. Then we got a little lost in the city - it was acutally kind of pretty, we ended up driving along the Red Sea which was really nice. The streets are pretty confusing, they seem to like round-abouts and if you get on a big street, there aren't really a lot of places to turn around. I've heard how terrible the traffic is in Jeddah but right now, I'm thinking people were exaggerating - I will soon learn that they are not :-)
We finally make it to the Red Sea Mall - it doesn't look that big from the outside but it is really large. The shops look much like they would in the states with maybe a little more arabic but there are all sorts of western style clothing for men and women. All of the women there are wearing abayas and a lot (but definitely not all) with head coverings and some with the veil as well. We are looking for an abaya for me - I have borrowed one, but it's a little small and not very comfortable. After searching through practically the whole mall and me getting very frustrated, we finally find one. I spend way too much for an abaya but I have one that fits and that I like - I'll have to get a picture soon. It's interesting how even non-muslim women get into picking out abayas - some are very pretty - they have lots of embellishments and patterns on them now and in this culture, it is very much a status symbol for the women.
The kids are getting hungry so we decide to find a place to eat and head up to the food court. It is basically all craziness up here - totally packed with people, not a table to be found and it close to the 3:15 prayer time which means that a lot of the shops/restaurants shut down. The kids wanted McDonalds, but they were closing down so we head over to KFC where I think probably 4 or 5 people cut in front of me in line. So again, I'm a little frustrated :-) One of the most surprising things that I saw was kids riding around the crowds on scooters and skateboards and heelies all over the place. Seriously, I was very surprised that they let kids do this. In general, I just sense a lack of discipline with the kids here - or maybe it's the same in the states and I just don't go to the mall on Saturdays :-)
Mark and Spencer got some chinese food and I finally just went to a coffee shop to get brownies for rest of the kids. We ate and then decided to try to head out and find Ikea. This is where the adventure begins and I totally see where people say that driving is crazy here. There is like a main street and then along side them there are streets where you would drive to get to the local shops. People are weaving in and out - some are agressive and some are really cautious. We saw people stopped on streets and backing up because they went the wrong way and people going around them because they were in the way. Megan kept saying - "Mom, aren't you glad you can't drive?" and I really kind of am. I liked being in the Suburban because it's big and I felt protected. I think we will probably buy something similar just for that reason.
We made it to Ikea and anyone who has shopped Ikea before knows what an experience it is. It is huge and when it's crowded and you have 5 kids in tow, it really isn't that much fun. Plus wearing an abaya makes everything about 5 times warmer than what I'm used to. We got a lot of what we needed - sheets, towels, hangars but they didn't have some things that I wanted. It was about 6:30 at this point, and me and the kids were done. So we decided to head back to KAUST. On the way back, I just kept thinking how much I wished I had a Target where I could walk in and find everything I needed in one place. I was IM'ing with Belky last night and we decided that we would start a petition to get one - so....maybe in the future KSA will have a Target for all us Americans to shop at! :-)
Thanks for reading! Cindy