After three months, including six weeks with the car sitting in the garage, we finally have our Saudi license plates so we can drive. Well, so my husband can drive me around. Last night we went out after dinner to poke around a bit.
My number one reason for loving to live outside the US is exploring a new place, but that is so hard to do here. Transportation obviously makes things dicey, but I also stick out and there is nothing I can do about it. Even if I wore a niqab, it would look very strange for me to be with an American man. Any other headcovering, or not using one at all, is also very noticeable but at least I can walk with my husband that way. However, sticking out here just means you're stared at which is saying a lot.
The biggest problem is that there are so few acceptable things for women to do here. Malls and shopping are always an option, but neither of us much like malls or shopping. You can go to a restaurant, but we're street food people, not restaurant people. The street food/fast Arabic food places here don't usually allow women in them (although they often have a window in the glass front of the building where women can order without going inside but then you need to find a place to eat). Or you can go to private events.
So last night we drove around a bit in Yemeni neighborhood and then parked and walked down the street for a while. There were carpentry places and upholstery shops and little grocery stores and places with couches inside whose purpose I know not and lots of places to eat. My husband went in one to get a grilled meat kebab and we found a couple of places where we want to try getting kabsa to bring home for lunch or dinner. There were falafel and ful places but I didn't see any shawarma last night. And there was a mutabbaq place too. I'd had plenty for dinner since it was pancit canton so I didn't want to eat anything, but at the very least I think we can try eating different things around the city even if we have to sit in the car to eat. Maybe I'll try to rope my husband into a street food of Riyadh project. I'd have to have his complete cooperation to do that since he'd have to drive the car and deal with the food in most places but it literally is all I can think of to do in the evenings that doesn't involving shopping or socializing with other people.
It was really nice to get out.