We took the first train from Jeddah to Medina. To the place where the Prophet is buried (peace be upon him).
The enlightened city is what they call it, المدينة المنورة (Al Madinah Al Munawwarah) by the literal translation from Arabic. And it really is something out of the ordinary.
A place where people look upon each other with much kinder eyes. Where they are only in a rush for prayer, and even then most of them go on foot. Where the streets are so clean that Tamer and I wondered if we might have stumbled into some other dimension. We watched with our mouths open, anytime a person walked to the otherwise sparsely planted bins and threw in only a piece of paper or an empty water bottle, instead on the ground.
We were even more astonished as we sat in the square in front of a mosque in the evening and realized that children were riding bicycles, not driving electric go karts. One kilo of local dates for just five riyals? Two for the road, please.
And more of this side of Saudi Arabia, please. So I don’t lose faith in people. We will go to Medina again one day, Inshallah.
In Medina, I finally immersed myself in the language, there was no other choice. English can only get you so far, then you have to go on foot with Arabic. Slowly, but surely.
How proud I was of myself when I heard myself replying to the intrusive taxi drivers that I was coming with my husband from the train station, thus letting it be known that I would not be renting the transport myself.
“La, ana ma zouji.”
Why some aunties in the mosque were asking ‘me’ for directions to the restrooms, I can’t tell you. Maybe by chance, or perhaps, after two and a half years in Saudi Arabia, I appear to be a lot more sure of myself and no longer look around like some shy doe.
Coincidentally, I also knew where the Zamzam water tanks were located and so I was able to point out them out to a woman, who believed I had to be the right person to ask.
What about Tamer? He was astonished at each interaction: “Look at you. Mashallah, Mashallah.”
“You will have to get a move on to catch up with your Slovene,” I started teasing him.