Mr. Senrick--Teacher/World Traveler

Mr. Senrick--Teacher/World Traveler
Educators to Saudi Arabia 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Desert Picnic

What comes to your mind when you think of the word picnic? Probably not what I experienced in Saudi Arabia today. We loaded the bus in Riyadh and took an hour drive out into desert country. Here is what the landscape looked like as we arrived:

The government has established campgrounds for young men, so that they stay in touch with their desert roots.

I took some time to wander the desert alone. I was impressed at the amount and diversity of plant life, considering the extreme temperatures and the lack of moisture. While I didn’t see much for wildlife, I did notice the entrances to some creatures’ underground lairs, pictured below. I was excited to come across one lizard on a rock. He was even kind enough to let me get a few close up pictures:

Besides just wandering the desert, Aramco had some special things arranged for us as well. I got to ride an ATV for a while. I sped through the sand and got as close to the large stone cliffs as I could. Also, I got to ride on a camel! After bonding with the group of them in Damam at the beginning of my trip, I had looked forward to it. We didn’t go very fast, but it was definitely different from riding a horse. Nicole had asked me where I sat on the camel…right behind its hump. It was hard to tell exactly, because as you can see, I was in a pretty fancy harness. Besides the ATV and the camels, they also had falcons and trainers, so that we could try holding one of these birds. (Using falcons to hunt is still a form of leisure here in Saudi.) I didn’t actually hold the bird…just wasn’t that interested.

After the typical tea, dates, and sweets that started nearly every meal we’ve had here, we proceeded to the “picnic.” This picnic was catered by the five star hotel we’d been staying at in Riyadh, so the food was pretty fancy! There was jumbo shrimp cocktail, fish of various kinds, at least 4 varieties of hummus, beef, lamb, fried shrimp, lobster rolls, rice, and the list goes on. The dessert options were also numerous—cheesecakes, crème Brule (in a variety of flavors—bannana, strawberry), chocolate cake, fresh fruit, and so on. As if the food spread wasn’t impressive enough, they also had two ice sculptures made for us! This massive spread could have fed a group ten times our size. That just goes to show how Aramco continued to treat us like royalty.

At the end of the meeting, we were bestowed with a final gift. Though we are already over burdened with all of the books and other gifts we’ve been given (or purchased), we were thankful to received a beautiful briefcase. I’ve never actually owned one, so I thought it was pretty cool.


Charlie said...

Does anyone live in the desert there?
Did you get any advice about how to survive in the desert?

Nicki D. said...

Senrick it looks like you had an AWESOME time.... The pictures you took are really cool! What was your favorite part of the trip? Did you learn the Sticker Time Song in arabic?