Wednesday, April 8 – Dreaming of a Dancefloor

by Sarah Rollinson, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

How did I get here? Let’s see… it’s not all that complicated. Woman meets Man in Ottawa. Woman dates Man in Ottawa. Man gets extremely good job opportunity and moves to Saudi Arabia. Woman stays in Ottawa but hangs on to LDR (Long Distance Relationship). LDR isn’t enough for Woman and Man. Woman Marries Man. Woman now spends on average, 1/3 or more of her time living in Saudi Arabia and the rest in Ottawa, before COVID-19. Now you’re all caught up.

I was supposed to leave in January 2020, but there were some issues with not having my PR card. I am a UK citizen, was born there, and never got around to getting my Canadian one, and I was in the process of getting all of my documents shipped, along with my passport, so that I would be allowed back into Canada when all of this took place. 

Everything suddenly shut down when the virus started spreading extremely fast, and deaths started to occur in different places all over the world. My passport is now stuck in Riyadh. There is no way of retrieving my passport at the moment, given that we aren’t even able to leave our province of Makkah, also spelled as Mecca, which is also a city in Makkah, Islam’s holiest city. Now the difference between the two I am still very confused about, especially when they tell the country that Mecca (also spelled as Makkah, our province) is on 24-hour lockdown. I am stuck here now without a passport and cannot leave the province, even if I could, there is no way of transportation in and out of the country.

I will say that as of now, I am living in a gated community, but I am still free to leave an come back as long as I don’t leave the province and am back before the curfew of 7pm-6am.

Where I live is a very nice place, rapidly developing. It seems like no one is alarmed too much with all that is going on, possibly because they have been through these drills before, I’m not sure and haven’t read into it too much yet. There is no hoarding in grocery stores, which is good because we only have the one to go to. Masks, however, are all sold out as well as hand sanitizer. No one seems to be freaking out, they just seem to be going with the flow of things. I do see that here people think it’s OK to discard their masks and gloves on the parking lot ground right outside their car instead of finding a garbage facility to drop them. This pisses me off so much. It is practically defeating the purpose, people! They are littering biowaste materials that will not break down in the environment. I can’t believe how ignorant people are sometimes.

Being in Saudi Arabia, we have 5 prayer times a day. So, a lot of what I hear is the prayers echoing from Mosques all over the neighborhood. Pretty much wherever you are, if it’s prayer time, all of the businesses shut down for at least 15 minutes and Arabic, Muslim words will be spoken out loud as Muslims lay a blanket out and get down to pray, all across the country. I am living with my husband’s parents right now since they can’t get back to Russia, so I am not really able to blast out my favorite tunes, which kind of drives me crazy. How I would love to just have the house to myself and have a solo dance party! All I hear inside the house right now is two old Russian people complaining about everything and anything. Thankfully I don’t speak Russian.

I am lucky enough to live close to the seashore, so the air is fresh, and the salty smell of the ocean is, well, salty…but almost sweet. It definitely beats being in the city where it is sticky humid, the air is stuffy, and everyone litters, so there is garbage, and that garbage reek, pretty much everywhere.

I have been fortunate to now have time to cook and bake, so we have all been tasting the things that I am making. There also is a Starbucks and Baskin Robbins in the community, so every so often, we go out for a nice treat (not inside the establishment of course).

Other than my husband the only things that I am touching are ingredients for my cooking and baking, my bike to go for rides, my notepads to write whenever the need arises, my sketch pad to draw, and my beloved Nikon D7200 camera that I try to take to most places that I go, although these places few and far between these days.

I hear of the fact that some people still aren’t wearing their masks in different countries, and I wonder if they even read or watch the news or…listen, to any decent human being? I was thinking about it the other day…I remember traveling by myself and seeing most of the Chinese people on flights wearing masks. I even asked my husband once we met up, why they did this. Was it because THEY were sick? Or was it because they thought WE might be sick? Later down the road, I started getting sick constantly (usually colds) every time I would come off of a plane. Usually, it would last a week or more and just ruin the first part of any travel. I started to understand why these people were in masks. I never went as far as using masks then, but I did start carrying hand sanitizer and managed to try to keep my fingers out of my mouth as much as possible (nervous finger biting). It seemed to work wonders!

Alcohol is illegal here. At least most of you can enjoy that!