23 January 2017

Six Months In

We've been here six months now. This has been the hardest transition we've had for any move ever and while some of it is Saudi Arabia, not all of it is. But like I did for Guadalajara, here are some of the positives and negatives about living here.

The biggest positive for my daily life is living near a wadi.  Being able to hike and walk along the wadi every day is huge.  There really is nothing like it in the world.

Also, I love the desert.  If you like erosion, you'd love this desert.  And the escarpment. I'm so glad we started exploring it quickly.

I love speaking Arabic again. I love that I don't have to learn a new language.  I love that I can ask questions.  I can earn at least a tiny bit of credibility, which isn't easy to do here, because I speak some Arabic.

Riyadh is a really diverse city.  I talk to people from all over Asia and Africa, my kids hang out with kids from India and the Philippines especially, and we are happily eating our way through lots of different countries, all from right here in Riyadh. 

I love the weather in the winter.  For all the awfulness in the summer, getting months and months of cooler weather is a lifesaver.  There are so many interesting historical and geologic sites around here and the winter is the time to explore them.

But the climate really is awful in the summer, and summer is very long here.  Having air conditioners, air purifiers, and humidifiers running constantly is so wasteful, but the place is not livable without them.  It's hard to breathe, it's almost impossible to go outside at any time of day, and it's just miserable.  The year-round average air quality is one of the worst in the world because of the sand in the air. This is not a sustainable location for a city of millions of people.  I am not looking forward to another summer.

There really are so many restrictions here, but there's also flexibility and people often try to work around the restrictions as hospitably as possible. People are so kind and apologetic when I make a mistake and never, ever demanding.  I *still* have never seen the religious police.  I know they're out there, but they haven't intruded on my life yet.  

Also, Riyadh may be diverse, but it's still a boring city.  There are only a couple of historical sites and shopping and lunching are the appointed activities for women who aren't working. I don't like to shop and lunch. Maybe I'll have to start signing up for the expensive tours going out of the city, or hire a driver to take me to mud ruins during the day.

Honestly, it's the summer climate that's the worst here.  I can deal with most anything if I can breathe and go outside.  

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