One of the most common questions I get asked when I go back to the States is what we do for fun over here.
For starters, we go out to eat pretty frequently with friends. It’s not always easy coordinating the guys’ schedules, but having a social life here is a huge key to happiness. And by happiness, I mean not getting totally depressed and bailing. I eat at restaurants more often now than I have ever before in my life. For me, sharing a meal with friends is a sort of group therapy, a source of familiarity found in the closest individuals to family on this side of the planet. Of course, every opportunity to be with friends is like this, but sitting around a table “breaking bread” especially so.
We like going to the local shooting complex. Maybe I should say, we have liked going there, because we’ve only been twice so far. Now that it’s getting nice out (below 100F), we hope to start going more regularly. Pistol ranges are reserved for the national teams and military forces, but expats are allowed to shoot skeet with 12 gauge shotguns. Cost per 25 shells, with “equipment” and “assistance” runs $27.
We go to the movies. While we are lucky to be expats in a Middle Eastern country progressive enough to have public cinemas, there is still blatant censorship in the movies here. For example, the back side of a statue in Django Unchained was blurred out. In Kick-Ass 2, “Mother F*cker” became “Melon Farmer.” Suggestive scenes are simply cut out, and new releases are not released during Ramadan. All censorship aside, the caramel popcorn that’s sold at the concession stand, and the reasonably priced concession items, are always a nice treat!
We hit the beach! For being a desert country, there are an awful lot of beaches around here. Last January, we rented 4-wheelers for a few hours, and played in the dunes. We weren’t technically at the beach, but we were close. This should happen again soon, since the weather is decent now (and when it does, I want to ride a camel!). This week, we went to the private beach area in a friend’s subdivision, where we kayaked through the Venetian inspired waterways. Previously, we kayaked through The Country’s mangroves: an area with so much vegetation, it seemed like a different country. When it’s not too hot, we can walk to our “neighborhood’s” residential beach. Unlike some of The Country’s beaches, bikinis are allowed there.
We hang out at the Souq! It’s a shopping and dining area, designed to resemble a traditional marketplace. We prefer to go here when it’s not too hot, since sitting outside to smoke shisha, browsing the many outdoor souqs, or shops, and getting some cheap henna is much more enjoyable when not on the verge of heat exhaustion! There’s something for everyone at the souq.
Getting from Point A to Point B, finding out basic information (contact info, hours, cost, directions, etc.), might take twice as long (or longer) than it would back home, but there’s no denying there’s always something to do here. We manage to stay pretty busy.
What do you do for fun?