Welcome to our as-yet, off-white painted townhouse — or villa — as they are called here. We are inside a western compound, one of many highly guarded living areas for non-Saudis living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Ours is called An Nassim Compound, and it has approximately 40 living units, and is, as far as I know, the only compound made up entirely of International Schools Group employees. So every one of our neighbors is also a co-worker.
It’s small, about two city blocks long, but does include a Recreation Center with a squash court (similar to racquetball, I gather), a large kids play room and a well-kept library. There’s also an outdoor tennis court and a small soccer pitch. And then there’s the pool, or as we’ll call it “The Lester Worth 4 p.m. Daily Destination Spot,” that is, once the rest of the Lester-Worths arrive. I included a picture of the pool.
But even better than the pool is the number of young children on the compound. Unofficial count has 15 kids between the ages of 2 and 6. Our kids fit nicely into that demographic.
Give it time and certainly this will change, but three weeks in I have yet to meet a person on the compound who I didn’t almost immediately admire and enjoy. It’s Utopia. A blessedly diverse Utopia.
Safe to say we’ll never own a home in our lifetime as nice as the villa we are now calling home for the next two years. It has its fair share of things that need fixing and updating — I have filled out close to a dozen maintenance request forms, including handrails on the tall steps for the kids — and, of course, there are the hundreds of feet of off-white walls. But these are challenges we look forward to tackling.
If you click on the photo collage below, you should be able to scroll through the pictures, read the captions and click the arrows on the side to move to the next picture.
I write this on Friday, Sept. 16, and it’s likely that my family may not join me for another couple weeks. Obviously, that is my top priority.
NEXT UP FOR ME: Either a photo collage of the school campus or a story about my father’s major impact on this journey, despite he being dead for more than 18 years. I also have something brewing about the language barrier, even though a large chunk of the population speaks at least some English.
NOT NEXT UP: Saudi customer service.
I shortened this living room area up significantly and made room behind the couch for the formal dining table. That freed up the formal dining room to be a very informal play room, which is a much better fit for our family.
NOTE: The table is no longer here. See next picture. This is the formal dining room with a sliding glass door to the backyard patio. This room will look drastically different once Amanda gets here. We have seen other villas on this compound use it as a play room. That’s what we’re thinking, too. The table is now in a front area behind the living room. I like the table in the front area because there’s a two-story window and open, vaulted ceiling in that section of the house.
This is the area behind the living room that I turned into the formal dining area. It is the area with the vault ceiling.
The kitchen is modest, but does have an eat-in table. Next to the dishwasher is another door to the back yard.
Excuse the recent trimming of our backyard tree, but it now looks so much more healthy. It was entertaining watching the guy use a wrap around his waist. No technology. Hopefully they come pick up the down branches soon. And yes, that is the compound fence behind it, adorned in barbed wire.
This is the second-floor living room with the balcony overlook. It looks down on to the dining room table and chairs.
This is me wishing I had a selfie stick. I stuck my camera over the balcony ledge to try to show the big window and the table down below. I am standing in the second-floor living room.
This is the master bed. To the left of it is the master bath and walk-in closet.
This photo’s purpose is to show that for the first time in our lives we have a master bathroom and a walk-in closet, two things we always dreamed of having someday.
What we envision to be Beckett and Ike’s room, although we plan to swap the bed on the left so its matching bed can be there (it’s currently in Elsa’s room).
This is Elsa’s room. All the rooms have one entire wall of closet space, except the master bed, which has a walk-in closet. I can safely say we’ll never fill all the closets here. Storage galore.
Both the rooms set up for our children have this much closet space. Almost one whole wall, except for a desk area, which you can see a portion of on the side of this photo.
Laundry is on the third floor. Right now it is steamy up there. It’s referred to as a Maid’s Quarters: Bedroom, laundry and small, full bathroom.
A shot from the laundry area to the small upstairs bathroom.
This is the Maid’s Quarters bedroom, which we’ll likely use as play area. Love the shape of this room.
Here is the outdoor roof patio. This seems like a lovely place for the beautiful winter weather. That’s the door back into the Maid’s Quarters (third floor) to the left.
This photo is from the rooftop deck seen in the previous photo. It is a shot of the front gate (the half-moon building). Getting in via car, which we will buy soon, involves them checking the undercarriage of your vehicle for … something?
This is a another shot from the roof in the opposite direction of the gate. It doesn’t show much, but gives you a sense for how much green they’ve managed to grow in the middle of this desert. Today is my 22nd day here, and not only has it not rained. I have yet to see one cloud in the sky.
This is a shot of the pool area. To the right of this is a Rec Center, and behind the pool is a tennis court and small soccer pitch.