Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Inner Englishman - Impressions #9

Today I decided to contact my inner Englishman and go for a walk in the noon day sun. Bad idea. Even the mad dogs were inside. (Actually I've seen quite a few cats but not a single dog since I arrived in Riyadh.)

This is the way it happened. It's the weekend, you see, and I slept in. Then I got up, washed my face, went back to bed and slept in again. By 11am I was beginning to feel ridiculous, like I really shouldn't be spending my precious weekend hours lying in bed in a stupor. I should be conscious and enjoying myself. And besides, I did have one important errand to run, a visit to the apartment manager's office to find out when my apartment will be ready for me to move in.

So I got myself up again, had my corn flakes, got my water bottle, put on my hat, and went for a walk.

It was hotter than yesterday and yesterday it was 112.

I wended my way across the dusty streets, hugging the building walls against the sidewalks, trying to stay in the 3' of shade, dashing across wide, sunstroked roads when there were breaks in the traffic.

My errand was done. I got my answer. "Next week." ... It's been next week for the past 2 weeks.

On the way back I made a serendipitous discovery. At the back of a large sunbaked parking lot, like the colorful mirage of an oasis in a sandy desert, a building rose up. Emblazoned across the top of it in bold colors was the word, "SAFEWAY". In my imagination it said "SAFEWAY!!!" but in reality it had no exclamation points.

It was all I could have hoped for and more. Never in my life have I been so happy to find myself in a Safeway. There were piles of fresh fruit and vegetables. There were California Avocados! I even found instant oatmeal. In the paper goods section there were large signs on the toilet paper that said "Imported from America". I guess we Yanks have a worldwide reputation for excellent in toilet paper manufacture. I also noticed, in the section for pet products, there was indeed dog food available. So there are dogs out there somewhere.

Well, I stocked up on the necessities and a few luxuries, put my hat back on and braved the sun once more.

Now I'm back in my hotel room, freshly showered and re-hydrated. I'll stay inside for the day and enjoy all the goodies that I bought.

Tomorrow I'll take a walk again. But I'll get up at 6am and take my walk early. Then I'll do my sleeping in during the afternoon.

Sorry, no photos today. Maybe tomorrow.

love to all my family and friends



  1. Glad you are finding some familiar things there Antonio to help your stay. Did you take your arrangement project with you? Bet you don't have any time to work on it!

  2. Who knew a Safeway could bring so much joy?

  3. I can totally understand how something so familiar could bring so much comfort when in such unfamiliar surroundings. Great that you came across it! Sorry to hear that the apartment progress is so slow; not surprising but unfortunate. Any chance that someone at your job has wasta (connections) with the building owner or the building manager? It's amazing how wasta can make things magically happen.

  4. Maybe you could very politely ask the landlord whether you should continue to look for another apartment...
    Or ask him whether you can move in at a reduced rent until the place is fixed up.

  5. Wasta ... I like that world. I'll definitely have to remember it.

    Thanks for the thoughts about the landlord issue. I'll get it worked out. It's just part of the process, kind of like bargaining at the market. The squeaky wheel gets oiled. I'll be obnoxious and they'll get it done. It's just hard to pay attention to it during the week when I'm so busy with work. But I've got a young guy at my office who lives in the same building and he's earning brownie points helping me out with the communications.