A few weeks ago, I announced a guest post series, telling stories of the places we've visited. I'm delighted to share this first post from my friend Krista. Her husband and I were Mission Year teammates many moons ago, and the world of blogging has connected us across the country. I hope you enjoy her post and check out her blog.
When I went to Saudi Arabia, I never expected to be treated differently because I had a child.
I had never been out of North America when I had the chance, in 2009, to visit the country my husband grew up in. My oldest son was just shy of 2 at the time, very verbal, but still in diapers (yes, this is relevant to the story!).
We stayed in the expat compound with American friends and only went out a few times into the “real” Saudi Arabia.
As a woman in that culture I expected to feel less than, perhaps not even be talked to, and in the more public areas like a bookstore it was that way a little bit.
|There are segregated areas for families versus men. Those are the white signs you see in the photo.|
It started when we arrived at the airport after something like 24 hours of travel and there was no place to change a child in the bathroom. The women thought I needed to use the restroom and let me go to the head of the line even though there were about 20 of them there. When I quickly backed out of the stall, I realized that I would have to make do with a wire shelf! (I don’t know what mothers do there on a regular basis, I never came across a changing table the entire time I was there.)
After we stood in line for 3 hours to get through immigration services we went to pick up our bags for customs. When they saw I was carrying my son on my back they wouldn’t let me pick up any suitcases, one man had me sit on a bench while they processed it, and then helped me on the other end.
Towards the end of our trip we went out to lunch with some of my FIL’s former coworkers. After lunch we went back to their house to visit. Unfortunately both my son and I had picked up some infections and I was out of diapers for him for the outing. One of the men very kindly offered to go to the corner store and buy us more. However, it was a good opportunity for me to ask for a ride back to the house because I wasn’t feeling well either. He took us in his son’s fancy yellow sports car because my son was very enamored with the cool yellow car.
I know this man was a friend to my husband’s family, but there was nothing different about the way he treated us than I would expect in any other country.
All the news stories you hear, some of them are true. However, take the time to be in the culture and get to know a few people and I think you will find that they are just as nice as anyone else you could meet.
It sure messed with my preconceived notions!
Krista has been blogging since well before 2009 at Welcome to Married Life and you can find the entire series about her trip here if you want to learn more about experiences in Saudi Arabia. She now has 4 children and keeps plenty busy chasing them around as well as taking pictures and blogging about life on the side!
Interested in sharing your own travel post? I'm accepting submissions to be published in November. You can learn more and register here.