Second semester for the university has just started up - meaning we all have new classes full of new students (24-plus per classroom) with lots of new names to learn. At least we had a few quiet weeks between semesters! During the weeks in between, the teachers had various workshops, trainings, or simply lots of time to read. For one of those days, the company that runs the English department invited all the teachers to visit their farm. What could be better than going to "work" outdoors? We had a very enjoyable day.
For us American and British teachers, the idea of a farm conjures up a place with muddy pigpens, fields of cows and horses, rolling hills of grass, wheat, and corn, and a homey barn with paint peeling off.
What does a Saudi farm look like? After riding in the bus for an hour, we arrived at ....
something that looked a bit more along the lines of a weekend get-away resort!
Instead of fields of wheat, there were lemon trees and palm trees. Instead of a dilapidated barn, there were several luxurious buildings, one with a pool inside. Instead of the farm animals we pictured, there were ostriches, pigeons, geese, and rabbits. And instead of rolling hills were neatly manicured lawns with beautiful gardens and a mini water amusement park. Perhaps the oddest part about it was that it looked like it was hardly ever used. Apparently many Saudis have farms, staffed with workers, that they visit only on the occasional weekend.
Cheerful lemon trees.
A cool-looking desert plant. As you can see, the farm is located in a valley between two rising, rocky cliffs.
A huge waterslide, covered in dust and winding its way to a pool drained of all but a few inches of water.
More water slides.
We were served a fabulous lunch buffet of traditional foods - kubsa (rice with chicken or lamb), mashi (stuffed peppers or zucchini), rice-stuffed vine leaves, kibbeh (round bread balls with meat and onions inside), hummus, samosa (fried triangles with meat or cheese inside), salads, fruits, deserts, and much, much more.
Before and after lunch, we could wander the grounds at our leisure. The nice weather and the playground equipment brought our the inner children in us, and we rode the swings and teeter-totters and did cartwheels. Then we admired the animals.
The pigeon coop.
Ostriches are so unique looking up close!
Since male and female teachers certainly couldn't be allowed to mingle, the women's campus day was on a Tuesday while Josh went the next day with the male campus. Children were invited along for the men's day (but they were not allowed for the women's outing, which puzzled me), so Misha got to enjoy the farm as well.
He loved the ostriches
and he got to play on the playground equipment with some of the other kids.
Now this is a scene that would fit into any farm. :)