I’m winding down from a gorgeous sunny afternoon spent lying around the pool with a few new friends, relaxing to the sounds of the doves and parrots sunning themselves in the midday heat. Tomorrow is National Day, which marks the 79th anniversary of the establishment of the Kingdom. It’s more or less a bank holiday, but schools are closed and most people, including myself, get one last long weekend to bask in the intense heat of late summer. There’s rumor the King is going to declare Sunday a holiday as well, which might be nice. It’s a bit odd to have everything shut down at the whim of an individual, but then again I haven’t done anything one would call normal since I arrived.
The weather here is remarkable. The temperature is shocking at first but it becomes something you get used to quite quickly. What’s more unsettling is that the weather is the always the same, day, after day, after day. The forecast is always sunny, with high temps somewhere near 110 degrees, and nothing but clear blue skies. There are no clouds here. Looking across the sky every afternoon it’s an uninterrupted beautiful clear blue, suspended above an endless sea of brown, tan, beige, and taupe.
The forecast for the next week.
It does actually rain here in the Eastern Province, though much more infrequently than in other parts of the Kingdom. Talking with a nice man from the South in the pool earlier this afternoon he described his one chance encounter with rain while camping in the desert a few hours south of Dammam. It lasted all of 20 minutes, and the wet ground dried within minutes of the sun coming out. Apparently its quite an ordeal if a city gets rain because the lack of infrastructure and general inexperience of most Saudis make for one hell of a mess. Streets fill with several feet of water and life comes to a stop until everything drains away or dries up. Then it gets humid. For as close to the Gulf as it is, it never gets all that humid here, meteorologically speaking. Twenty or thirty percent humidity is the norm, but with temperatures in the triple digits it’s like breathing through a wet rag. A very old, dusty, wet rag from the garage that’s been used to clean up oil in the recent past.
All in all, the weather is enjoyable most days. I spend most of the days inside, where the air conditioning is on high, and only occasionally have to walk out into the midday heat. The early evenings make for perfect swimming and lounging weather, and the nights are decent for slow walks around the compound. Embarrassingly, I’ve found myself getting chills at times. (The temperature has never dropped below 75 degrees.)
As I’m writing this it’s 92 degrees. I’m sitting in my courtyard, the sun just having dipped below the horizon, wearing pants and a long sleeved shirt, sipping coffee. I’m not even sweating. It’s sad.