When I lived in Saudi Arabia, excursions to the Red Sea were
the favourite weekend entertainment of we Westerners. To
behold the coral reef is awe inspiring. The fish: turquoise,
orange, canary yellow, magenta or with black stripes, come
in all shapes and sizes. As well as snorkelling and diving
among the fish, we would catch and eat parrot fish, grouper,
and spotted halfbeak. I once even saw a shark give a dolphin
a thrashing. Speaking of dolphins, they would swim alongside
our Zodiac when we sped along en route to nearby islands
(which, by the way, was forbidden).
This reminiscing about the fabled Red Sea leads my thoughts
to Jeddah. Like any seaside city, Jeddah has a boulevard
along the waterfront, known as the Corniche. Strolling along
the Corniche while listening to the sound of the waves
splashing with the incoming/outgoing tide, feeling the soft
warm breeze in my hair, and hearing the evening call to
prayer from the many mosques was, to me, a transcendent
experience. Those of you who haven't felt the Red Sea and
the mystery of this ancient land will think I am maudlin.
But now, many years later, these remain my most memorable
times in Saudi Arabia.
And I haven't even
elaborated on the wonder of the old city of Jeddah.
Although we have always had positions at hospitals in
Jeddah, we have never had a large number of openings,
primarily because Western people tend to settle for longer
periods in Jeddah, and consequently there is less staff