A new friend told me of his impression of Saudi Arabia: “It’s beguiling.” He said. Beguiling… what a word. It’s been on my mind ever since he said it.
With all of the newsworthy events happening here all the time, in many ways, things are peaceful. The scorching summer heat has broken and given way to temperate days and breezy nights. I’ve not needed more than a t-shirt, and I’ve been comfortable in jeans. Perfect human temperature. People outside. Cafes full. Picnics. Pleasant.
With that in mind, another new friend said, “by all accounts, this region is still one of the more (if not most) tense places to be in the world right now.”
Armed guards, military checkpoints, hummers with gun turrets, missile strikes, armored cars, and even tanks are daily realities for the people here. It’s interesting how quickly familiar it all becomes.
World interest is focused here. Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Israel are all within a couple hours of one another by jet.
American and Russian military aircraft do almost constant flyovers. The roar of the powerful engines is simultaneously exciting, invigorating, and a “whoa!” kind of moment. They rattle the walls, shake the very ground you stand upon, temporarily delay conversation until you can hear again, and they’re as common as the bells of a clock striking on the hour.
Today, I saw a Kentucky Fried Chicken as a backdrop to a convoy of heavy military armory traveling down a main road… a good illustration of this place: Peaceful, and stirring. Strong, and fragile.
One more new friend said, “It’s important to keep perspective. What you know from a nation’s government or from certain sects of people can’t possibly summarize a city, a state, or a nation that is made up of millions of hearts and minds. I hope you’ll be able to help share about the people here, goodness you see, generosity you experience, and friends you make.”
I’m mulling over these quotes and others, and looking forward to sharing something amazing with you soon… Wait until you hear about our day yesterday. Stay tuned.
After writing this, I learned of the recent violence in Florida. I’m aware that this event sheds a spotlight on the relations between our two nations. I plan to continue to share what I see on the ground here. Our band sends our love and support to those hurting from these events.