Our Thanksgiving this year incorporated some old traditions with new circumstances. We began the day with a Turkey Trot which was both fun and ridiculous since neither David, Pigpen, nor I have been running or training. Pigpen didn’t quite understand the concepts of pace or endurance and would sprint to the front and stop, sprint to the front and stop. He played a continuous game of cat and mouse with the other participants and also ignored the course outline. Needless to say we did not win and suffered quite a bit of pain and soreness the following day.
We enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner potluck-style with members of our work and neighborhood communities. I made mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pecan pie. It was certainly not the same as having Thanksgiving back home with the family, and I definitely missed my mom’s delicious cooking, but we still had fun and were happy.
On Black Friday, we did no shopping (of course – no sales here in SA), but instead were invited to a camel farm. I love these excursions to visit with Saudis in their homes because it means the royal treatment, delicious food, and some one-on-one time with Saudis and their culture. This time was a little different however. More traditionally, they set up their Bedouin tents for us in the middle of their farm. As usual, we gathered along the perimeter of the room (except this time on the floor cushions) and they served us Arabic coffee, dates, mint and chai tea while we relaxed and enjoyed a fire, the desert, and a view of the date palms. Afterwards, they served us buffet style in another tent with salads, seafood, lamb, goat, chicken, rice, bread, and a giant table full of desserts.
After lunch we took a tour of the farm – goats, sheep, gazelle, ostriches, peacocks, horses, and camels. My favorite part was the camels. They are such odd animals but so practical for the nomadic lifestyle. We got lucky on this day in particular, since two baby camels had just been born. We were able to visit with them and their mommas (not too close), and it was very exciting. The babies had long spindly legs that wobbled as they tried to walk. They made noises like sheep (baa baa) when they were hungry and an attendant was there to milk the mom and feed the babies. After a little while, they had to separate the two families from each other because one mom started picking on the other baby. She would grab its face in her mouth and push it down to the ground. It was quite scary to watch actually. While the baby camels are small compared to the moms, they are still very large in comparison to us. When the attendant went to move the one mother and baby, he could barely grab a hold on the baby around its waist from behind and pick it up. I could tell it was heavy for him. There were some older babies and mothers in another part of the farm, they got along well and seemed to be suckling interchangeably between the two mothers’ utters.
Even though I’ve seen camels before at the fair back home, it was very exciting to see the camels here up close in SA. On certain drives outside the city, we’ve seen them from the car out in the open desert, but I’m not sure if they’re wild. So far, I’ve only seen black one-humped camels as opposed to brown ones or two-humped.
We finished the day in a different tent overlooking a man-made lake. We were served more coffee, tea, and dates. And I was able to watch a Saudi sunset, one of my favorite things to do here – they are always a spectacle of bright pinks and oranges.
This Thanksgiving I am grateful for the opportunity to live overseas. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We miss you!