Tuesday, 19 November 2013
My first and most probably lasting impression of Riyadh is, strangely enough, the smell of Rosemary.
The road to the university is lined, on both sides, with robust Rosemary bushes.
They are watered every morning, and incredibly, flourish in the dessert.
How I wish they were interplanted with lavender!
I brush past them in the afternoons, on my way home.
The hot dessert sun has mellowed the smell, releasing the oil from the woody leaves.
I am instantly hungry.
I pick a few stalks.
I have lamb in the fridge.
Thursday, 17 October 2013
Having lived in Asia for the past 13 years, I have grown accustomed to long working hours and even longer shopping hours. Department stores are open from 10am to 10pm.
711's are open 24/7.
Some MacDonalds are open 24 hours.
Restaurants are open and fully operating from breakfast right through to the early hours of the next morning.
Families have dinner in restaurants, not at home.
Students in school uniforms are seen going home late at night, Saturdays, Sundays, laden with homework.
Reason 2 for waiting:
Renewed appreciation for a life where shops close at 5pm,
students are home by 3pm,
dinner is prepared by Mom and enjoyed at the family table,
streets quieten down after dark,
homes can be enjoyed and lived in,
lawns are mowed and braais are had on Saturdays,
and Sundays can be spent in gardens, parks, dams and rivers.
Wednesday, 16 October 2013
I arrived in Pretoria on August 5th 2013 and planned to be in Riyadh by September 1st.
By the time I leave on the 24th, I would have been here for 80 days.
Day 71 is nearly over.
9 days left.
Why did I have to wait so long? Every day I find a reason. Here is today's one, let's call it Reason 1/9
Seeing the Jacarandas bloom.
Saturday, 31 August 2013
Forgive me, it's been two months since my last confession...
I no longer work and live in Hong Kong. My kitchen window is no more. I don't live high in the sky any more. I don't have a view of the mountains any more.
I went to George for a month. Sat on my deck, saw the mountains at close range. Interacted with the wild life in my back yard: peacocks, guinea fowls, weavers, forked-tail drongos, hadidas, doves, buzzards, dogs, cats, tortoises, and even a mysterious hedgehog. I looked at the mountains. I looked at the trees. I made fires. I cooked. I drank wine. I hung my washing on my own line, in sunshine.
My son and my daughter visited.
I went to Port Elizabeth to see my mom and reunite with my school friends of 40 years ago.
Old friendships were cemented, new ones established.
I left PE for Pretoria to kick-start my new adventure to work and live in Saudi Arabia.
A vicous circle of police clearance certificates, visa agents, street hustlers, guardian angels, embassies, rental cars, accommodation arrangements, shuttle buses, gautrains, lifts, shopping, suitcase-hopping and banking services ensued.
It has now been a month and I am still waiting for my visa and plane ticket.
I have been given the gift of time.
I saw old and dear friends,
and had time to listen.
I visited two beautiful old towns for the first time in my life and met new friends.
I saw my favourite teacher again and he re-affirmed what I always knew:
A teacher is loved not for what he or she says, but for what he or she IS.
And I learned the same important life lesson again, for the umpteenth time:
Get your priorities straight,
your intentions pure
and then just Go With It.
And take time to smell the roses and feel the sunshine on your shoulders.
I am now thinking of a new tag line for my blog.
And, no. No pictures this time.
Friday, 28 June 2013
Monday, 3 June 2013
Not only is Hong Kong in the East, but also in the Northern hemisphere.
George is in the Western Cape in the Southern hemisphere, land of the penguins.
It's hard sometimes, to get to grips with the opposites.
Hong Kong has just had its first weekend of summer. We all went sun crazy! The swimming pool resembled a kindergarten, beaches were crowded. At last we could use our second-most useless item: sunglasses (a wine stopper being the first).
We were filled with awe and trepidation, and felt very secure in the deep end (1.50m as I was mockingly reminded) of our pool.
At the same time, about 12 000 km away, friends, family and strangers were shivering in the first snowfalls of the season.
It is very difficult to be yanked away from a well-deserved summer in July into the snowy winter of George.
It is tough on the body clock to endure two winters in one year.
It's hard to be in wintery Hong Kong during Christmas when people are swimming in clear blue waters back home.
But Mandy keeps the home-fires burning, and soon we will be sipping pink port again.
I will pretend it's Akakies.