Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mother Nature is a Warrior

Let me tell you a little about how much Mother Nature hates my guts.

One day, I decided that I wanted to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. I found a recipe online that was satisfactory, then began the hot trudge through the burning sun to the compound's supermarket. Once there, I found that they did not have the chocolate chips that I needed, but had a very sturdy-looking bar of cooking chocolate that I thought I could cut into pieces. It was hard as a rock, and I thought, "This is going to be insanely hard to cut, isn't it?" I decided to give it a go anyway. I knocked on the bar on chocolate as if it were a small door. It was solid.

I forced myself back into the heat. I walked my strange, roundabout route past the piles and piles of sand and accompanying trenches to get to my villa. Remember how I complained about those? They have gotten even deeper now, and the piles of rocks and dry, brown dirt are even bigger.

Imagine this everywhere you try to walk.  EVERYWHERE.

It is dry, it is hot, it is insane. It is insane because I am insane to walk in that horrible sun when I could have decided not to use the damn chocolate chips and instead make plain oatmeal cookies. However, I did what I did, and turning my key two times around in my lock (for extra security, I guess) I push the burning metal door and practically leap inside to airconditioned bliss.

I walk to the kitchen, opening my abayah and shedding it at the nearest chair. I bring my bag to the kitchen counter, take it out, Remember how I knocked on the chocolate bar earlier? Well, now it was basically to mushy to rap my knuckles on. It has already started to melt in the intense heat. In order to have it fit for baking, I threw it into the fridge and hoped for the best.

There are two things that I learned that day:

1. Never try to cut baking chocolate into little pieces to make your own chocolate chips. It is DAMN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE.

2. Riyadh is really, really, really, really, really, really hot. Do not let anyone underestimate the heat. It is REALLY hot and even more dry.

Yesterday, something else happened that is very similar to the baking chocolate story - it even involves chocolate! My parents asked me if I wanted anything from the store last night. They were going to take the walk themselves. I did not go with them, but asked them to buy me my favourite Guylian shell chocolates because I have been seriously craving them.

When they got back from the store, the chocolates (which used to melt in your hand when you barely touched them) became...this:

Is that a seahorse? Or...a shell? I cannot tell anymore! Poor, poor chocolatey creatures.
Again, a trip to the freezer was all that could be done. Soon, my misshapen creatures were thrown into my mouth for my oral enjoyment. They still tasted wonderful, but isn't it a shame? And this happened at night, guys.

The weather in Riyadh is not fun to deal with at all. I like the sun when I go to the pool, but that trip to and from the pool is horrible. In the end, it might not even be the sun and the heat that gets to you. It is a combination of those two things plus the dry air that sucks moisture out of every part of you, maybe even your soul. I surely feel like my soul has been sucked out of me when I go out for a short walk.

No amount of vaseline can soften your lips. No cream can stop your arms, legs, or back from itching. Your eyes are dry, your mouth is dry, everything is DRY. And HOT. When I baked those cookies, it felt like the whole house was an oven and no air conditioner could blast enough cold to make it cool. And dont' forget: no skin softener can stop your fingers, toes and heels from becoming peeled. There's not a single way out of it.

You have to be on constant skin patrol here. You have to take precautions every time you go outside, sometimes wearing more clothes than you would like just to ensure you do not dry up like a prune. When I get back inside, and I feel like a shower, I have to scrub my skin with soft body scrubs and foot scrubs in order to get rid of that dry skin. If the scrubs are too harsh, they dry up my skin, too. The battle against the dryness and heat is a tough one!

Every day, the weather chips away at you, little by little. But just when you think that it is getting bearable, and you are actually enjoying yourself despite that weather, Mother Nature's Saudi Arabian division sends out her army in full force.

Yes: I am talking about the sandstorm.

Image by Raya Wolfsun
Damn these things! Once, when I was just about ready to leave the gym after a 2 hour workout, I came face to face with a sandstorm. The people at the sign-in desk told me not to go out. I went out anyway, and I am not even sure I can describe that feeling of hot wind that pounded at my body.

All I could see was a yellow-brown hue. I covered my mouth and wore my sunglasses, but breathing was still difficult. The sand entered my eyes and caused them to itch. My gritted teeth felt small particles between them, like I was crushing tiny bits of glass. My lips, which were already dry, were numb and painful at the same time. I rushed as quickly as I could over sand and rock to get to my villa. No one was outside except me.

When I got inside, I was dizzy and my eyes burned. I drank a lot of water, and took my allergy medication because of the itch. The electricity went off inside the house. I was all alone - no internet, no TV, no air conditioning. I took a shower in the dark and sat reading a book until everything came back to normal.

What a miserable day. I hated it.

Oh, who am I kidding? I loved it. 

It was scary, but exhilarating! The sandstorm brought into light my survival skills and desire for adventure. It has been such a long time since I'd felt like something had actually happened to me in Riyadh. The sandstorm took me out of the monotony of my life and made it exciting again.

How can I really say that it was a miserable day when the sandstorm actually gave me a problem to solve? I had to make the house safe in case of electrical surges, had to shower in complete darkness, had to call my parents with my cell phone, which was dying (I stink at remembering to charge my phone!)...I was woken up; forced awake by the attack Mother Nature had planned in her vendetta against me.

In your FACE, hateful Mother Nature! Your plan totally backfired. Instead, you gave me another experience in my little book of life. Nice try.


  1. Oh I enjoyed reading this! And here I thought that Jordan was hot! I'll definitely think of your story when I step outside and complain. Lol! Maybe your compound should invest in a delivery system so that you guys can stay cool and chilled and invest in insulated grocery bags to keep your products cool and melt-free! 8-)

  2. Haha I would LOVE. IT. if I had thing delivered to my door. I don't like acting like a princess but damn, during that horrible heat?