Sam's Life

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4th of July high on an Arabian mountaintop

Enjoying desert quail meal overlooking Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Abdullah Al Ghamdi, Majed Bandar and Majed Olayan prepare desert quails for our mountaintop meal overlooking Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

I had heard there were camel herders in the far, southeast neighborhoods of Jeddah. My driver and friend Abdullah Al Ghamdi was kind to take me to what turned out to be a sort of “strip mall” of camel markets along a bumpy road.

We stopped, got out and walked around at one of these markets, striking up a conversation with a Sudanese immigrant herder. He smiled, quickly milked his camel right in front of our eyes, strained the frothy milk and poured it into a couple of mugs. He then handed us the mugs, and we drank this delicious gift.

It was at this roadside market that Abdullah and I met other camel milk customers—two brothers Fahad and Majed Olayan and their friend Majed Bandar.

Fahad and Majed Olayan are soldiers in the Saudi army. Their friend Majed Bandar is a local TV news announcer. I learned that Fahad and his wife have two young sons and his brother Majed and wife have two daughters. They, along with their friend Majed, were quick to invite Abdullah and me to a very special dinner high on a mountain overlooking the city of Jeddah.

Majed Olayan, Sam, Majed Badar and Fahad Olayan enjoy desert quail and rice. The city lights of Jeddah can be seen in the background. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Fahad and his brother Majed had just returned from hunting in the desert a few hours east of Jeddah. Abdullah and I followed their four-wheel drive Range Rover up the mountain as far as we could, and then we climbed a foot path up the steep slopes the rest of the way. Majed and Fahad had come to the mountain top with all the necessities for an outdoor cookout–including 20 desert quail.

While the desert quail were being plucked, gutted and cooked in sundry aromatic spices over an open fire, we enjoyed Arabic coffee, dates and grapes and great conversation.

I told my new Saudi friends that I understood that poetry was an important part of Arabian life, and Fahad Olayan took my cue. He began reciting long poems he had learned as a child–stories about Arabian history, desert life and of loves won and lost.

A carpet had been rolled out on a flat area of ground where we would eat. From there we had an incredible view of the city down below. During the prayer times we could hear the call to prayer (the Azan) from hundreds of mosques throughout southeast Jeddah.

When the meal was served, a couple of hours later, we ate in typical Bedouin tradition from a common platter of desert quail and rice. With our hands we dug into an incredible meal, Fahad and Majed Olayan pushing the the best pieces of quail meat in my direction.

Everyday I’m captivated by my new Middle East life with many new very hospitable friends. I’m grateful to God for giving me this experience to learn about a new culture and about faith and friendship.

I’m amazed how much we have in common. People here speak about the “American dream” they want for themselves–peace and prosperity–a family, a reliable job, a home, and a car. And when it comes to talking about religion and faith, we acknowledge the commonality of our beliefs in the God of Abraham. Our faces glow and our hearts are altogether conscious of God’s presence in our lives and faith traditions. As we converse, we are gladdened, and we have hope for a better future for all the world’s peoples!

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July 12, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

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