Sunday, January 17, 2010

Alleys of Riyadh

I've been having a lot of trouble posting lately. Sorry for the long silence. To make up for it, I thought I'd show you one of the things I like to do here in Riyadh, which is walking around in the old parts of town, taking pictures of the narrow streets and alleys.
I like how the acacia-wood rain gutters stick way out to carry the rain away from the buildings. Otherwise the runoff would erode channels in the walls.

A lot of the buildings are in ruins. Although they look ancient, people there told me they are only about 50 years old. Some still have people living in them, but many of them are now being used as warehouses for local businesses.

These days you see a lot more of the cinder block and corrugated metal roof construction that appears on the right side of this photo. It's not as pretty as the mud brick buildings, but it lasts longer. Soon both types of buildings will be gone from this area. As I was walking around, I saw posters saying that the king had decreed that a park would be built in this location.

Here's a bonus photo. I snapped this as I walked past the mosque adjacent to the Saha al Adil (Square of Justice). This is where executions and punitive amputations are performed.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Best Firewood in Town

Do you need firewood? Because if you do, I know the best place in town to buy it. These guys are from the Sudan, and they are the friendliest firewood salesmen around. Have a seat. They'll send for some coffee and you can sit and drink with them. If you prefer, they'll brew you some Bedouin coffee in the pot in the foreground of this photo.

It's very difficult to find people who'll let me take their picture here in Saudi Arabia, but these guys have always been friendly and happy to indulge me. The wood is very good too. It's completely dry and lights easily.

Campfires are popular in Saudi Arabia, especially during the winter time when the evenings are chilly. People will stop and build a fire at the drop of a hat. You'll often see families or groups of young men squatting around a fire right beside the highway, which seems odd, because you can drive for five minutes and get into the desert, away from traffic. For some reason, though, roadside fires seem to be the thing to do.

Those bags stacked beside the firewood are full of charcoal, by the way. At this souk you can get wood, charcoal, braziers, - and right next door is the camel souk, so you can buy a camel to carry it all home for you if you like.

Is it Cold Where You Are?

It's very nice here in Riyadh in the winter time. It gets a little chilly in the evenings, which is a pleasant change of pace, but during the day it's warm enough to ride my mountainbike in shorts. This is part of the trail where I ride. Wadi (Valley) Hannifa is behind and below me. In the Wadi there are some small villages, lots of palm groves, and a large palace complex belonging to a prince.