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: