The Saudi Pony Express is Alive and Well

The Saudi Pony Express is Alive and Well but with a modern twist. Thanks to the internet and evolution of blogs, lil ole me, an American in Saudi Arabia, became dear friends with a Dutch national in the Netherlands. We started with exchanging comments on each others blogs which gradually transcended to the exchange of private emails. We became united not only as women but as blogging sisters. With this newfound friendship we learned not only about each others cultures, customs and backgrounds but pertinent details of each other’s life stories. She was one of my most staunch supporters in spite of being thousands of miles and oceans away when I was in the midst of my battle with cancer. Not a single day went by without an “e-card” and email of support and encouragement. When I could not do a traditional fast during Ramadan due to medications I now have to take, she, a non-muslim fasted for me on my behalf.

 

And now enter into the picture a gregarious and generous Saudi man. He happened to make a comment on my blog that he would spend his Eid holidays in the Netherlands. I jokingly put up a comment that he should deliver a package for me to Aafke, my dear Dutch friend… and from that simple comment, the new and modern day Saudi Pony Express was born. Nader leaped to the challenge of allowing both me and Aafke to exchange care packages between one another. Due to earlier posts I had written on my blog about receiving mail and packages in the Kingdom from abroad, Aafke knew that it was not as simple to just mail a package to Saudi Arabia and expect it to arrive in a timely manner…if at all. And the same also applied to a degree in wanting to send items outside of KSA. A package could and can be sent but it is also timely and costly.

 

So what happened next? Again thanks to the internet and email, Aafke, Nader and I exchanged emails. Being a female without a regular driver, Nader kindly came to my home to collect a care package that I had put together for Aafke which highlighted some of the traditions and best sweets of Saudi Arabia. Sadly the short time and transport difficulties during Ramadan prevented me from being able to include even more highlights of Saudi Arabia in this package. Due to Nader’s imminent departure I had two days to put everything together. Aafke being a woman and an artist I felt it was prudent to include a traditional ladies thobe in her package. I made sure to get one that was more representative of olden Saudi Arabia with embroidery and fabric inserts.

 

After Nader left to begin his journey I was on pins and needles just waiting to hear that Aafke and Nader through the Saudi Pony Express connected. I was not disappointed. Both of them were kind enough to send me immediate emails after they had met. I’m kind of jealous in that Nader has actually met my dear friend face-to-face while I am still impatiently waiting for this opportunity. And on his return to the Kingdom, Nader informed me immediately of his return. Shortly thereafter we met once again at my home for the reverse exchange.

 

I simply do not have appropriate words to describe the beautiful, unique and so thoughtful gifts which I received from Aafke. As an artist she created the most unique abaya for me. Now by way of background, I have written so many posts about the abaya, which is required for women in Saudi Arabia and what to me would make up the ideal abaya such as pockets, a hood, buttons or snaps that do not quickly break or get pulled off. Aafke read these posts closely and not only did she make me my dream abaya but she exceeded my expectations on what a dream abaya would look and feel like. I’m sure I am going to be the envy of all Saudi Arabia and the headache of many a muttawa. But as you can see for yourself, while strikingly beautiful it is also very modest.

And of course you may be wondering  how did it look on me?

 

Aafke did not stop there in this wonderful care package from the Netherlands! Her talents are diverse and the package further included some homemade scent which is very light and addictive! Even my spouse who is sensitive and has a negative reaction to women around him with perfume was not affected by this scent. The brass container is filled with homemade incense which when lit creates a soothing ambience. The ink pen is a very special secret which remains between Aafke and me.

 

Last but certainly not least are cards of photographs from Aafke’s own paintings. Now I want to know when I can obtain one of her prints in a poster size? The detail one can discern even from these cards is amazing.

 

So in closing, I am grateful for the evolution of the internet, the creation of blogs and last but not least, to Nader and the modern day Saudi Pony Express which made this exchange between Aafke and I possible.

 

And to Aafke – love ya Girlfriend and lots of virtual hugs!

 

I also encourage you if you have not done so already to read Aafke’s own postings about this experience:

 

http://clouddragon.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/designer-abaya/

 

http://clouddragon.wordpress.com/2008/10/08/meeting-up-trough-blogging/

 

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21 Responses

  1. yeehaw.. that’s fantastic ! how fun. :o)

  2. Wonderful,wonderful,wonderful!Post.For all the bad things I’ve read about the net in regards to meeting online,your experience just reinforces what I’ve always known.People are basically good!

  3. This is the nicest post I’ve ever read anywhere! Bloggers have the reputation of wanting to promote their own agenda, and using their blogs for personal exposition. This is great, as far as it goes, but when two bloggers in different countries who have never met become dear friends, to the extent that each takes pains to please the other, blogging starts to look like something that can weave threads of healing spirit throughout the world.

    Add to that the generosity of a third person who rides the pony, you have an inspiring story that should be promoted in mainstream media to reach as many souls as possible.

  4. You two ladies are marvellous!!

    I have read earlier about Aafke fastinf for a friend of hers but I just knew it was you!!

    Loved the traditional abaya you sent and loved the abaya she sent you!! How sweet of both of you to think of the same things though keeping it a secret!!

    Nader is the proud of my country!!

    You two should gather one day!! Get a panadol package with you because you will be talking constantly!!

    Way to go Carol and Aafake. This is the true friendship!!

  5. Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Actually before blogging and internet (oh gawd..I am REALLY going to date myself here)… I used to operate a bulletin board system (BBS). I’m happy to say that even then back in those OLD days, I also managed to make many friends through the BBS.

    Thankfully all my online experiences (ie, where I have met the individual) have been very positive experiences. However a word of caution, don’t just readily agree to meet someone whom you encountered online. Validate and verify first. Make sure you have facts on who the individual is that can be checked out by yourself and third parties.

  6. This sounds like the makings of a major motion picture. A chick flick? That wasa really sweet.

    I have an idea. Sionce you have a large international viewrship, why don’t you host on your blog an international gift exchange. all interested can email you with their country and u can assign partners. what will make it really cool is that no one will know who their partner is until they get the gift. i statred this on a yahoogroup 7 years ago and they still do it once a year!

    i just realized that the abaya is on a coat rack. at first i was wondering what inthe world u were doing with a manaquin in your house!

  7. I’m singing…
    It’s a small world, afterall!

    Very sweet story, Carol. I’m glad that you and Aafke were fortunate to find someone as kind and generous as Nader to help you!

  8. We were indeed…. Nader is a real hero…and a beautiful role model for the new generation of Saudi men.

  9. Umm Adam,

    That’s a cool idea but I don’t have the time to organize such an activity. How about you?

    Actually the abaya on the mannequin is from Aafke who does indeed have a seamstress’ mannequin in her home! But the abaya being modeled is yours truly….

  10. Nader is the hero of saudi-pony-express!!!
    The kaftan Carol send me was a surprise, but the abaya involved measurements and lots of mails to and fro!
    And I’m so happy to see for real it fits! And that the length is allright!
    The mannequin is an antique, it has my bust and hips but a very pinched waist! You really need a mannequin at times
    I’m going to update my blog now! :D

    PS I have a poster of the horses in the Alhambra series… We will have to see when the Saudi-pony-express is coming again!

  11. I don’t always comment, but you have some wonderful friends. I enjoy the pictures as well.

    I vaguely remember bbs systems but I think you had to have “port” numbers and all kinda crazy stuff. Now you just type www and a word.com and you’ll probably get there. :]

  12. Aafke – you and Nader are certainly both hero’s in my book!!!

    It is indeed a most perfect fit in all ways.

    Mrs. C – I sure do have some beautiful friends here. Actually in the old days when I had a bbs you used a dial up modem although I did have mine set up as a multi-node network which allowed for multiple users (up to 3 at a time) as well as use of packet-switch technology to receive and send to other bbs’s as well. Ah, those were the old days! (LOL) I like it a lot better with the internet and .com and www!

  13. Mashallah. The abaya Aafke made is stunning despite the simplicity.

    Speaking of which, does Aafke sells her creation of scents sent to you? I really love scents and I’m jealous of your gift!

  14. What a beautiful gift and how wonderful is the internet that we can meet people in this way!

    The abaya is beautiful and very decent – I can’t imagine any mutawwa objecting to that.

  15. You know…as much as the net has been villified over the years for what can go wrong on it…too often we forget just how things can go right too.

    Personally speaking I led a very lonely and anti social existence up till just a few years back because of my abusive marriage…so even though Im divorced now almost two years I still find it incredibly difficult to socialize face to face…so the net is a way for me to “meet” potential friends without feeling as if my space is being invaded. Allows me to be myself….something I havent been able to be for a very long time.

    Im glad that friendships on the net can be just as satisfying and genuine as any face to face (theres hope for me yet…lol)….congrats all involved.

  16. I think Aafke should set up a separate web site for her creations!

    Coolred – you are so right. The internet has really opened up the world and people to each other. Of course there is hope for you! (hugs)

  17. […] 17 10 2008 Carol has posted on the abaya It is such a relief to me that it fits! It’s really scary to make something for somebody […]

  18. Blogging opens up doors that I never even knew existed. Aafke is indeed a very special, caring and multi-TALENTED individual – and on top of all that, she could easily have a career as a comedienne too!!! The gifts you both exchanged were thoughtful and creative.
    I’m so happy that the two of you have been able to form the bonds of friendship, complete with a great support system. The Pony Express and the Internet – who would have ever thought they could co-exist in time?

  19. so very true, Susie!

  20. […] where Aafke is from and where she lives. Although we could not meet each other personally, through Nader and the modern day pony express, we were able to exchange gifts with one […]

  21. […] traditional of abayas when I was in Saudi Arabia but I can say it was very practical.  Mine was custom made by our own Aafke.  It came with pockets, a hood for when it was prudent to cover the head, […]

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