Yanbu was an industrial city and very different from the Aramco compounds on the Eastern side of the country that resembled US military bases. Being sent to Yanbu was like being sentenced to hell if you were a woman. Unlike the compounds, women could not drive. We were living in an Arab town. They preferred us to wear an abiyah, and be covered in black like the Saudi women. I refused. We ended up living in Yanbu five years and I spend most of that time in my house or in my yard behind my wall painting.
Once we got back from vacation, Mike left immediately for Yanbu and I remained in Ras Tanura to begin packing things up. On January 31 my mother passed away. I returned to the US and spent the next two months there helping my dad and doing all the necessary things to settle her estate.
When I returned to Saudi in late March I went to visit Yanbu for the first time. Before I got there, Mike made it sound so romantic. He said, "They have mountains there, on the weekends we can go to the mountains and you can paint and I'll lay on the ground next to you and read a book." "And, if you don't like that, there's the Red Sea." For some reason I envisioned the mountains would be like those here in NC, with trees and beautiful scenery. Instead I found mountains that looked like giant rocks, the entire place was rock; you could not even dig in the ground. The actual town of Yanbu looked like the aftermath of a bombing strike; buildings were falling down and rubble was everywhere. Luckily the Royal Commission (the industrial city) where we lived was neat and clean.
As it turned out, Mike was fairly high up in the company when we got to Yanbu, so we were allowed to look at a number of villas and select the one we wanted to live in. These villas were Arab style houses, big enough for a wife or two, a bunch of kids, servants and the works. Since Mike and I were going to be the only people living in this house, I was feeling very guilty taking the house we did when there were families with lots of kids in much smaller places. My friend Sherry who had lived there about five years by the time I got there said, "Don't feel guilty about the big house, it is all you will have here and you are going to spend a LOT of time in it." Boy was she right!
Our house was a mighty fine house surrounded by an eight foot wall. We had an entry hall big enough to live it, a living room, dining room, kitchen, den, sitting room, and servants quarters on the ground floor. Upstairs we had another living room in the middle of the house surrounded by seven bedrooms. In all the house had five bathrooms. If I had to guess I would say it had about 5,000 - 6,000 sq. ft. What did we do with all that space? One bedroom was used as closet because storage space in that gigantic house was lacking. Americans have much more stuff than anyone else in the world I've discovered. One room was my studio, one room was where I taught art. One room was our office, One room was our bedroom and I gave Mike a room all for himself that he could do whatever he wanted in and never keep clean. And, I think it only got cleaned twice in the five years we were there.
So I spent lots of time painting in my yard, and the last thing I did before we left there was throw myself an art show entitle "Behind the Wall." The paintings on this blog page are some of the works from my yard.