08 June 2014

Summertime



I think it is safe to say that summertime has arrived here in Saudi!  The last few weeks have been hotter, and the breeze/wind has changed from a cool one to a warm one.  And sadly it's only going to get hotter as summer continues.  (To help my American family and friends 'translate' the forecast for this week, our highs will be ranging from 43 C = 109 F to 48 C = 118 F.)   
We have been enjoying nice weather for several months now (the picture below of Emily was taken at the beginning of March. . . ) while many of our family and friends back home were shoveling snow and scraping ice, so I guess it's our turn for some nasty weather. 
We are very lucky to have not only pools (that are cooled!) in our compound, but also a beach.  Since I don't need to wear my black abaya inside the compound, that means I can actually enjoy going to the beach. 

When driving past the beaches where the locals hangout, it is not uncommon to see women in their abayas (faces and hair still covered too) wading out into the water.  Although, there is a swimsuit option for those who prefer not to wear their abaya to the beach--the burqini: 


I had never heard of a burqini before moving here, but apparently they have been the source of some controversy in the past.  For example, in 2009 a mayor in northern Italy banned the burqini from pools and beaches saying that "the sight of a 'masked woman' could disturb small children, not to mention problems of hygiene."  During the same week in 2009, a Paris pool denied entrance to a woman because they had a "no swimming while clothed" rule. 

Another random note. . . we have found it difficult to find sunblock over here.  It's gotten a little easier recently, but when I was looking for some back in February and March, I searched and searched, only to find some at one store that cost about 20 USD per bottle!  I suppose that there isn't much demand here for sunblock.  If you go to the beach like this: 


who needs sunblock?  (Btw, I didn't take the above picture, but yes, local women really do go to the beaches dressed like this.) 

Along these same lines, it is interesting to see how the stores deal with pictures of women who are not covered with either an abaya or a burqini.  Most of the swimming related things (pools, pool toys, floatation toys, etc) come from outside the country, so it is entirely possible that they will include a picture of a woman in a swimsuit.  To solve this problem, someone actually takes a black marker and colors over the women on each and every box. 


Note that it is only the women, not the men or children.  Or sometimes they just use these stickers to cover the 'inappropriate' images. 


With the temperatures rising, we are looking forward to spending most of the summer with our family in cooler climates back in the States!