This weekend marks the final weekend in Saudi Arabia for Andrea, Amber, Sandy and myself, (Aaron is just starting his second full week here).
We’ve all been awaiting the weekend with mixed emotions. We go from anxiously looking forward to going home, to saddened to be leaving the many wonderful friends we’ve made over the past four weeks. Some of the best parts of this trip have been made just by getting to know the nurses, doctors and other health care staff at both Al Yamamah and King Saud Medical City. Everyone has been so warm and welcoming to us; they’ve definitely made the trip one that we’ll never forget and I’m certain that we’ll carry their memories with us as we return to our own NICU.
Wednesday was our last full day at Al Yamamah, and the nurses gave us a very special going away gift… One that we plan to bring back and hang in our breakroom. As we finished our teaching at the end of the day; Amber and Aaron got word that the NICU team was planning for transport to get a Meconium Aspiration baby at the Military Air Base. This was Amber’s second transport in Saudi and Aaron’s first. Thankfully, the baby was doing fairly well, and they made it back to Al Yamamah after a few glitches with the transporters prior to departure.
Our Wednesday evening was pretty low key… Aaron and I played pool, Amber worked out and Andrea and Sandy skyped with their families and read… Then we all finished watching Homeland while snacking on cheese, crackers, hummus, Naan, and grapes.
Today, was another great day. Nencia and Flerida (Infection Control Nurses from King Saud) took us on a fabulous adventure to the Red Sand Desert and Hidden Valley (apart of the Arabian Desert), just outside of Riyadh. But before this, we stopped at King Saud and delivered a few toy trucks to Aboudi and say our final goodbyes to everyone there.
Departing from King Saud, we followed Nencia and Flerida to the Red Sand Desert. It was a short 45 minutes from Riyadh, and what a difference that time makes. We were taken by the natural beauty of the sand dunes and plateaus of this region. On our first stop we all took turns riding 4-Wheelers across the dunes… An exhilarating experience for all, and even though Amber’s flipped over, she managed to land a fantastic dismount… Unscathed!
From here, we head out to Hidden Valley for a picnic. This was ten minutes from the Red Sand dunes, and what a difference in the scenery. Where the dunes seemed to go on for miles, Hidden Valley was a rocky, mountainous-like terrain. We climbed (in our flip flops), to a secluded place in which Nencia, Flerida and their husbands have found to escape the city life in Riyadh. We dined on spring rolls and pancit, amongst the rocks under a tree. It was a fantastic getaway; and hard to believe that we were able to escape the hustle and bustle of Riyadh and experience such a peaceful place. We were overwhelmed by their kindness in sharing this afternoon with us. It was truly a memorable experience for everyone.
Upon return to our house in Rawda, we all napped before heading out to dinner – at Applebee’s, (yes… another trip to an American Restaurant). And another trip to HyperPanda and the mall for some final shopping. We all laughed over our memories of the past week and month together and were all in accord that we would never forget our time together, and are thankful that we can share these memories with one another.
Tomorrow, Alana and Sam will be joining the group; and we are looking forward to passing the torch on to them. We’re certain that they’ll do an excellent job and are happy to share our experiences with them.
We leave you with some of our pictures from today’s trip to the desert…