In America

It was August and Ohio weather is normally hot and humid this time of year.  But, it remained cool, relatively speaking.  It worked out for me because I wasn’t really looking forward to sweating.

I was home a week and then took a trip to Colorado.  My friend’s mother had sent a few items with me to give her.  I could have mailed it but it was an opportunity to see something as well as spend Eid with someone I know.  Most of my friends in Cincinnati have moved to other countries or other states and cities in America.

My time in Colorado was enjoyable.  Not only did I get to spend time with my friend but I also got to see beautiful scenery and finally try out my new camera.  My first shot was of a tree outside her window, followed by a pillow.  That pillow picture was nice, in my opinion.  And I’m sure it’s an opinion shared by… one else.

On the 18th we took a walk, hike, whatever.  We started out walking along Boulder Creek.  One of my favorite shots is here.

I love seeing places like this and attempting to capture them.  We walked a good while along the creek with me stopping often to take pictures.  I was trying to get comfortable with my new camera.  The timer was on which made for long waits for a shot.  I wasn’t even sure how I turned it on.  I was waiting for the timer when a bee headed toward me.  Needless to say, I ended up with a blurry shot of the ground.

I was fasting but still crazy enough to go through an area of the Rockies.  It was a hike, a fake one, but no one has to know.  Again, I stopped several times to take pictures.  We had planned to go deeper into the mountains but it was too steep.  So we decided to simply follow a lower path and return.  The signs about watching out for bears also helped.  I tried to picture us having an encounter with a bear.  Let me tell you, it wasn’t a pretty picture.

What I also enjoyed was being a “foreigner” for a few days.  We were asked several times where we were from and I let my friend talk.  She’d say Saudi Arabia and I simply ran with it.  When people asked if it was our first time in America, she’d say yes and I’d say that I had come before in the past.  We rode a bus to Nederland, Co and the bus driver was a little obsessed with these “Saudi” women.  “It’s really beautiful up here when it snows. Have you ever seen snow?” he asked.  My friend said she was thinking of saying, “Yes, in the freezer.”  She decided not to.  I told him that I had in fact seen snow before.  So of course he wondered where I had seen it.  I mean, after all I was from Saudi Arabia.  So I told him I used to live in Ohio.  “That’s great,” he said.  Blah blah blah.  My accent is plain as day but he and others couldn’t see or hear past the hijab and niqab.  Another time someone asked if we were students so I said I was visiting my friend who was a student.  Have you ever wondered what zoo animals felt like?  Well, I think I know.

Anyway, here are other shots taken on our journey through the Rockies and Boulder Creek.

This one was taken in a park near Boulder Creek.

It almost looked like the mountains were painted in the background.  The grass was nicely cut and the trees served as a “barrier” between the grass and the mountains.

And the second one was taken in Nederland, Co at the Boulder Reservoir.

Nederland, Co

It’s only 45 minutes from Boulder but the difference in temperature was pretty huge.  A strange, but very nice lady guided us through the area.

We saw houses built high up in the mountains. It wasn’t my first time seeing such things, but somehow on this trip I was able to enjoy it more.  If you’re ever in Colorado, take the time to see it’s beauty.

Leaving KSA…A Continuation

I left Yanbu on the 8th and spent the day/night in Jeddah.  As is the norm for me, I didn’t sleep before my trip.  But, I wasn’t worried.  I would sleep on the plane.  That’s what I told myself.  I pictured myself stretched out on 2  or 3 seats.  Aah, what a dream! Unfortunately, it was not my destiny to be comfortable on that flight.

I sat for a moment, and then he came.  Yes, my plane buddy.  I thought my plane buddy was Syrian, but then I saw that he had a Galaxy 3, iPhone and a BlackBerry.  Yep, he was Saudi alright.  But, I digress.  Moving on. One of the flight attendants told him that there were other seats available and that maybe he’d be comfortable in one of them instead.  I know that he told him that for my benefit.  But darn it, he said he’d stay where he was.  Great!  How was I supposed to sleep, comfortably?  Well, it wasn’t about to happen.  And so I began…..

That flight was 13 hours.  And I was uncomfortable the entire time.  I couldn’t really move, but my plane buddy was not phased at all.  He slept like a baby.  It was really too close for comfort.  It was so close I think we might be married now.  He elbowed me a few times while he was in dreamland.  Must have been nice to sleep, Grrr!!!  But when he was awake, he did offer me some of his snacks.  Wasn’t that nice?  And because the battery on my BB was dead, I had to borrow his USB charger.  Well, I had to get something out of this unexpected relationship.  Don’t judge me!

Anywho, I got into Washington, DC.  I was finally on American soil after two grueling years.  It was raining.  Life was good.  Even going through customs was a breeze.  Since my trip to Syria, my life was always hell going through security and customs.  It was a most welcome change.  I headed toward the terminal for my domestic flight.  I walked to the terminal, staring at all the little restaurants and shops.  What would I eat?  What could I buy?  Chipotle, Fudruckers, etc.  The possibilities were endless.  I settled on a cinnamon pretzel from Auntie Anne’s.  If you haven’t had pretzels from there, you must, absolutely have to try one.  Mmm mmm good.  And again, I digress.  I called my family to let them know I was there and I sat.  I waited.  And as luck would have it, my flight was delayed.  The plane was still in New York, delayed because of weather.  It was storming pretty badly.  I didn’t care because I was almost home.  What did bother me was the fact that the goofy airlines people made useless announcements.  “The flight to Cincinnati has been delayed.  We don’t know when it will be departing.”  Lovely!  To make matters worse, that goofy lady was hard to understand.  Can we please get someone who speaks English or a language that someone understands?  Man!  These people.

Finally, they announced the arrival of the New York flight and that soon the flight to Cincinnati would depart soon after.  I got in line, ready to leave.  Get outside and there’s a toy plane waiting.  “Should this toy be allowed to fly,” I wondered.  Again, I was going home so, whatever, right?  Got in the plane and it started raining again.  Nice.

Cincinnati, Ohio.  I was finally home.  I got my bags and headed to the rental car office where I had reserved a car.  I drove home, admiring the Cincinnati skyline.

I made it home.  Finally.  It felt good.

Leaving KSA

السفر قطعة من العذاب

Traveling can be trying, torturous, so many things.  My travels which began on August 8th were no exception.

I hadn’t been home in two years, so this trip to the states would be special.  I hoped it would be anyway.  As is customary for me, I spent the day before beginning my journey preparing.  I made sure I cleaned and threw out anything in the fridge that would spoil during the time I would be away.  I sat and thought from time to time as I wondered what it would be like.  As I said, it had been two years and I would also be traveling alone.  I didn’t sleep the entire night with the thought and hope that I’d be able to sleep once I reached Jeddah which was the first stop on my trip.

At 5:50am I anxiously waited for the driver to arrive.  My flight was at 7:40 and I wanted to be in the airport no later than 6:30.  It was 5:55 and I was tempted to call him for fear that he fell asleep or simply forgot and would be late.  But, lo and behold my BB said in big red letters “SOS.”  Oh my God!  Well at least I had another phone to use.  That’s what I thought.  I checked my other phone and it read, “No Service.”  Great! Just what I needed.  I took my bags outside and checked multiple times for the driver.  I was doing my best to remain calm.  It was 5:57 and I couldn’t bear it any longer so I decided to knock on my neighbor’s door.  I knocked lightly on the door, but thank God the driver was there.  It was 5:58.

I got to the airport.  Walking in I was holding my abaya up a little because it was too long.  Why I wore that one I’ll never know, but oh well.  I checked in, got through security and proceeded to the departure area.  I got to the escalator and stood for a second.  I was waiting for it to move, but it was not to be.  Darn! That meant I’d have to walk up the escalator.  Remember, I said I hadn’t slept all night.  I was not really prepared to walk.  After all it would require some coordination which I wasn’t sure I would have at that moment.  I started up the steps trying desperately not to trip over my abaya or on a step.  I had played the scenario in my head several times.  Picture it, halfway up I trip and come tumbling down like something out of Tom & Jerry.  At the bottom, a black ball with blinking eyes.  “This used to be Amal,” is what it would say next to the ball of mess.

Thankfully, I made it to the top without incident.  But this was only the first leg of my trip.  Fortunately, I was spending the day/night in Jeddah.  It gave me the chance to get some much needed sleep and rest to prepare for the second and longest leg of the trip, Jeddah to Washington, DC.

Next, a long and uncomfortable flight.

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