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Expat wanderer

Saudi Women: “I Will Drive Myself Starting June 17th”

Thank you, Hayfa, for sharing this about a movement from some very brave women. In the USA, remember, when women started asking for the vote, they were beaten and put into insane asylums. Such women would be considered abnormal, at the very least. It hasn’t been that long, sisters. Many of these Saudi women have been driving for years – just not in Saudi Arabia, their own country.

5 May 12 2011
by Jadaliyya Reports

[The following announcement was originally released in Arabic, and can be found here. Translation by Ziad Abu-Rish and Khuloud.]

Us women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are the ones who will lead this society towards change. While we failed to deliver through our voices, we will not fail to deliver through our actions. We have been silent and under the mercy of our guardian (muhram) or foreign driver for too long. Some of us barely make ends meet and cannot even afford cab fare. Some of us are the heads of households yet have no source of income except for a few hard-earned [Saudi] Riyals that are used to pay drivers.

Then there are those of us who do not have a muhram to look after our affairs and are forced to ask strangers for help. We are even deprived of public transportation, our only salvation from being under the mercy of others. We are your daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers. We are half of society and give birth to [the other] half, yet we have been made invisible and our demands have been marginalized. We have been deliberately excluded from your plans! Therefore, the time has come to take the initiative. We will deliver a letter of complaint to our father the King of Humanity and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques calling on him to support the Women of June 17.

We have searched for laws that prohibit women in Saudi Arabia from exercising their right to drive their own vehicle but have not found anything that points to such [a prohibition] in Saudi traffic laws. Therefore, what we will do cannot be considered a violation of the law. We therefore have decided that beginning on Friday the 15th of Rajab, 1432, which corresponds to the 17th of June, 2011:

Every women in possession of an international driver’s license or one from another country will begin driving her car herself whether to reach her place of work, drop her children off at school, or attend to her daily needs.

We will take photographs and videotapes of ourselves driving our cars and post them to our Facebook page in order to support our cause: I will drive starting June 17

We will adhere to the dress code (hijab) while driving.

We will obey the traffic laws and will not challenge the authorities if we are stopped for questioning.
If we are pulled over we will firmly demand to be informed of which laws have been violated. Until now there is not one traffic law that prohibits a woman from driving her own vehicle herself.

We do not have destructive goals and will not congregate or protest, nor will we raise slogans. We have no leaders or foreign conspirators. We are patriots and we love this country and will not accept that which encroaches on its security and safety. All that is involved [in this matter] is that we will begin to exercise our legitimate right.

We will not stop exercising this right until you find us a solution. We have spoken out on too many occasions and no one has listened to us. The time for solutions has come. We want women’s driving schools. We want Saudi drivers’ licenses [for women] like all other countries in the world. We want to live a complete form of citizenship without the humiliation and degradation that we are [currently] subjected to everyday because of our dependence on a driver.

We will launch volunteer campaigns to offer free driving lessons for women beginning on the date that this announcement is issued and we wish for everyone to support us.

To review the traffic law in Saudi Arabia:

Section Four: Driving License, page 47
List 1-4 of Driving Violations: pages 117-121

نحن النساء في المملكة العربية السعودية من سيقود هذا المجتمع نحو التغيير. وحين فشلنا في ايصال صوتنا، لن نفشل في ايصال أفعالنا. كفانا سكوتاً ومذلة لكل رجل من محرم أو أجنبي عنا. منا من لاتملك أجرة تاكسي وتعيش على الكفاف. ومنا من تعول أسرتها وليس لها عائل غير ريالات بسيطة دفعت فيها جهدها وعرقها لتكون لقمة سائغة للسائقين. ومنا من ليس لها من يقوم بأمرها فتلظت بنار السؤال لكل غريب. محرومين حتى من مواصلات عامة تكفينا شرهم. نحن بناتكم ونساؤكم وأخواتكم وأمهاتكم. نحن نصف المجتمع ونلد نصفه. لكن تم تغييبنا وتهميش مطالبنا. سقطنا من خططكم عمداً! لذلك حان وقت أخذ زمام المبادرة. وسنقوم برفع خطاب تظلم لوالدنا ملك الانسانية خادم الحرمين الشريفين لمسانده نساء ١٧ يونيو

تم البحث عن أي قانون يمنع المرأة في السعودية من ممارسة حقها في قيادة مركبتها بنفسها ولم نجد أي شيء يشير لذلك في نظام المرور السعودي*. لذلك لايعتبر ما سنفعله خرقاً للقانون. لذلك قررنا أنه وبدأً من الجمعه 15 رجب 1432 الموافق 17 يونيو 2011 التالي

كل امرأه تملك رخصة قيادة دولية أو من دولة أخرى ستبدأ بقيادة سيارتها بنفسها لتقضية أي مشوار لها سواء للوصول لمكان عملها، ايصال أطفالها للمدرسة، أو قضاء حوائجها اليومية :سنوثق قيادتنا لسياراتنا بأنفسنا بالصوت والصورة ونشرها على صفحتنا بالفيسبوك لدعم قضيتنا

سنلتزم بحشمتنا وحجابنا حين قيادة سياراتنا

سنلتزم بقوانين المرور ولن نتحدى السلطات إذا تم ايقافنا للمساءلة

إذا تم ايقافنا للمساءلة نتمسك بحق المطالبة أن نعرف أي القوانين تم خرقها. لحد الآن لايوجد اي قانون في نظام المرور يمنع المرأة من قيادة مركبتها بنفسها

ليس لدينا أهداف تخريبية. ولن نتجمهر أو نتظاهر أو نرفع شعارات وليس لدينا قادة أو جهات أجنبيه نحن وطنيات ونحب هذا الوطن ولن نرض بما يمس أمنه أو سلامته. كل مافي الأمر أننا سنبدأ بممارسة حق مشروع

لن نتوقف عن ممارسة هذا الحق حتى تجدوا لنا حلاً. تكلمنا كثيراً ولم يسمعنا أحد، جاء وقت الحلول. نريد مدارس نسائيه لتعليم القيادة. نريد رخص قيادة سعودية أسوة بكل دول العالم. نريد أن نعيش مواطنة كاملة بدون الذل والمهانة التي نتعرض لها كل يوم لأننا مربوطين برقبة سائق

سنبدأ باقامة حملات تطوعية لتعليم النساء القيادة مجاناً بدأ من تاريخ نشر هذا الإعلان ونرجو مساندة الجميع

:لمراجعة نظام المرور في السعودية

الباب الرابع: رخص القيادة صفحة 47

جداول المخالفات 1-4 صفحة 117 -121


May 14, 2011 Posted by | ExPat Life, Experiment, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | 4 Comments

Did you Tell Him We’re Going Dancing?

I was laughing as I heard AdventureMan talking with his Saudi friend, making a time when they could get together. I knew he had called about tonight.

“Did you tell him we were going dancing?” I laughed as I asked him.

“Uhhh . . . no,” he said.

This is new to us. We are taking dancing lessons, ballroom dancing, at the YMCA. We both had those lessons you take in eighth grade, but we’ve forgotten most of what we learned. I don’t care about going dancing, or fancy dresses, or competitions. I don’t even watch dance stuff on TV; I just don’t care that much. These classes are something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it really takes us out of our comfort zones.

We really are having fun. The first lesson – not so much. It is hard work! It doesn’t come naturally, it comes with PRACTICE! Lots of PRACTICE! It’s like fencing lessons, or horseback riding, or karate, or gymnastics – After a while, your body knows what to do, but at the beginning, it can be a little excruciating. As for AdventureMan and I, we mess up a lot, but we laugh a lot too. We are getting better, but best of all we are having a lot of fun. These kinds of things rewire your brains; it may not be easy, but it is good for us.

And I am still laughing, thinking of AdventureMan not telling his friend that he was going dancing with his wife, LOL!

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Cross Cultural, Entertainment, Exercise, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Humor, Living Conditions, Marriage, Pensacola, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Values | Leave a comment

The Minority Prayer

I listen to National Public Radio in my car and in my project room. I finally figured out how to stream WUWF, my local station. Until today, unless I wanted to use my wind-up radio, I had to stream KUOW in Seattle, or NPR which I like because it has so much BBC.

I am really delighted to figure out how to stream WUWF, because it has a lot of local news and events I might miss streaming one of the other stations, and I also like hearing who the sponsors are, so I can tell them how much I enjoy National Public Radio.

So today I am listening to Talk of the Nations, a segment on Pakistani-Americans, and this particularly articulate young lawyer mentions ‘the Minority Prayer.

Do you know what that is? I didn’t. But I laughed when he explained it, because we have prayed it so often living overseas . . .

He was talking about when attending a Muslim-American Lawyers National meeting, and how the buzz spread that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, and how they all sent up a quick minority prayer – “Please, Lord, don’t let it be Pakistan where he was found” – and of course, it was Pakistan. He was very wry, and I enjoyed listening to what he had to say. At the same time, I was grinning. I cannot count the number of times we have heard rumors – in Germany, in Kuwait, in Qatar, in Tunisia, in Jordan – and prayed . . . “Please Lord, don’t let it be the USA who did this . . . ”

It’s very much an expat’s prayer.

If you want to listen to the interview yourself, you can find it here.

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Biography, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Humor, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Relationships | 2 Comments

Yelling For Help

I don’t often have bad dreams, and this one was a doozy. I was in my house – or office – and it was a large, clear white space. I noticed a lot of fine black dust in places on the white carpet, like toner from copy machines, and then it gathered and swirled, but sometimes it was white. Then I saw a man – or something with a skull – sitting on a white slab couch like my Mom used to have in turquoise back a long time ago.

I kept looking – sort of like a cat does when he sees something he is not sure of, looking for motion or some sign of threat, very alert. When the skull creature started to move, I started to yell.

(Lithograph by Munch)

It’s hard to yell when you are scared, but I kept at it. “Help!” It sounded weak and tentative. “HELP!” “HELP!”

AdventureMan was there to help, calling my name, asking if I was OK. “I thought it was the Qatteri Cat,” he told me, “It sounded kind of strangled and yowly.”

I just laughed. I felt good. The skull man didn’t get me, AdventureMan was right here, my trusted knight, and I had broken through my fear – or the sleep barrier – and yelled really loud. I don’t know why, but it made me feel powerful and like I had survived something and that made me feel good. 🙂

(It could also be related to the series I am reading, on which the current HBO series Game of Thrones is based, and maybe it disturbs me on some deep level.)

May 10, 2011 Posted by | Family Issues, Marriage, Pensacola | 3 Comments

Happy Mother’s Day

There is this thing on FaceBook where for Mother’s Day you put a photo of your own mother as your profile photo. I don’t do a lot on FaceBook, but I did this one, and I thought I would share an early photo of my mother with you:

I just love that mischievous little smile that says “Don’t you want to come play with me?”

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

May 8, 2011 Posted by | Blogging, Family Issues | 5 Comments

Dear DADDY Intlxpatr

I get the feeling he doesn’t really read my blog . . .


I am Johnson Koroma, from the Ivory Coast (D.R.C) in Africa. I am the first son and the eldest child of my late father, Late Capt. Suleiman Koroma.
My late father was killed by the rebels in my country as he died in the hospital, two days after he was shot on his chest.

I am in Jakarta-Indonesia now; I was smuggled in here with the help of the United Nations (U.N.).

The U.N assisted me to convey my inherited fund($15,500,000.00) to Jakarta-Indonesia, as I told them that, the fund was supposed to be delivered to my late father foreign partner here in Jakarta-Indonesia according to my late father’s instruction before he died.

I did this arrangement, as my late father told me before he died in my country Ivory Coast; to make sure I convey this fund to his foreign partner here in Jakarta-Indonesia for investment purposes since there is instability of power in Africa.

But on my arriving here in Jakarta-Indonesia, I could not find my late father foreign partner as I was told he died in a bomb blast that occurred in J.W Marot hotel here in Jakarta-Indonesia two year ago.

In this regards, I seek your urgent assistance, for you to come down here in Jakarta-Indonesia, so that I will introduce you to the U.N as my late father’s foreign partner for them to release my fund to you. This is because, the U.N said they will not release my fund to me, until they see my late father foreign partner as I told them earlier, as the said fund is too big for only me to handle as the U.N. officials said, since I am just 24 years of age.

Note: You are not expected to make any upfront payment before you make this claim, all you are required to do is just to come down here in Jakarta-Indonesia, and I introduce you to the U.N as my late father’s foreign partner, who will make the claim of my inherited fund and invest it into any lucrative investment according to your directives… Also, 15% of this total sum shall be giving to you for your kind assistant.

The U.N will deduct 10% of the total sum, for their service charges etc after they hand over my inherited fund to you, hence you will not be expected to make any payment for this claim.

Thanks and remain blessed, as I await your urgent response and arrival schedule here in Jakarta-Indonesia.

Yours son,
Johnson Koroma.

May 7, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Financial Issues, Fund Raising, Scams | 2 Comments

AdventureMan’s New Adventure: Cinco de Mayo

When he ‘retired,’ AdventureMan chose Thursdays as his day to cook. It’s worked out well. Recently, he has perfected Naan, baked on our grill. We’ve had it several times – it just tastes so good, fresh off the grill, and he bastes it with either olive oil and garlic, or olive oil and sesame seeds. Oh, yummmmmm.

“I’m feeling stressed,” he admitted yesterday morning. “It’s my day to cook and I don’t have any ideas.”

“It’s also Cinco de Mayo,” I said, and that was all I had to say, he was off and running.

All I can say is BRAVO. BRAVO, AdventureMan, Cinco de Mayo was a taste treat. They were fabulous.

He found his recipe on, and made it pretty much just as they said to make it, serving it with a small bowl of home-made pico de gallo and a small bowl of sour cream. Oh YUMMMM. This is the recipe he used:

Pico de Gallo Chicken Quesadillas
By: Tony Cortez


2 tomatoes, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into strips
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 (12 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup sour cream, for topping


In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Set aside. (This is the pico de gallo)

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add chicken and saute until cooked through and juices run clear. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Put the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the hot skillet and saute the sliced onion and green pepper until tender. Stir in the minced garlic and saute until the aroma is strong. Mix in half of the pico de gallo and chicken breast meat. Set aside; keep warm.

In a heavy skillet, heat one flour tortilla. Spread 1/4 cup shredded cheese on the tortilla and top with 1/2 the chicken mixture. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup cheese over the chicken and top with another tortilla. When bottom tortilla is lightly brown and cheese has started to melt, flip quesadilla and cook on the opposite side. Remove quesadilla from skillet and cut into quarters.

Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve quesadillas with sour cream and remaining pico de gallo.

I’ve never seen him so happy as he has been the last couple months.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Living Conditions | 1 Comment

Dancing on Graves?

I trust that it all happened exactly as it should. Don’t we all believe God is in control?

Friends and family are asking me why I have been silent about the raid, capture and execution of Osama Bin Laden.

9/11 and the celebrations televised around the world were equally horrifying to me. Pointless killing. Pointless celebration.

We don’t celebrate the deaths, not even of those who have caused us harm. It’s not who we are, and it only invites retribution, and keeps the pointless violence, the pointless arguments going.

Jesus told us that it is easy to pray for our friends and family, but that we are to pray for our enemies as well. It’s really really hard. And it is one of the few gates that will open the door to true change, which has to come from the heart.

There is no guarantee that an operation will succeed, no matter how talented, trained and intelligent the operators are. Well done, Navy SEALS. Well done, those who gathered the information, who confirmed the information, and who chose to execute surgically, rather than a bomb which would kill without positive identification. Well done, gathering all the computers and flash drives, hopefully full of information which will give insight into future plans which can be thwarted.

Osama’s death doesn’t bring back the thousands killed in the 9/11 attacks. It does send a message that attackers will be hounded until they pay for their actions. That’s not a pass for dancing; it’s a grim tally in the world of hard-ball politics.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Counter-terrorism, Interconnected, Law and Order, Leadership, Locard Exchange Principal, Political Issues | 11 Comments

The Crab Trap – Pensacola

We’ve talked about stopping by the Crab Trap forever – but usually, we are on our way home from Joe Patti’s with fresh fish, shrimp, oysters, etc and can’t stop. 🙂

So we made a plan. And we finally got there. We were extra hungry, so we got there early, but not TOO early. Although it was not even 11:30, many of the outside tables were already taken. They have a great view, and a great outdoor eating area to capture the view:

AdventureMan won the first round with his fresh Apalachicola oysters. He ordered a half dozen, and 7 arrived, fresh and sweet:

My crab cake had a fabulous sauce, but the crab cake itself was only ho-hum. On the other hand, I am very hard on crab cakes, I like them to be mostly crab, and TASTY crab, not tasteless crab, and horrors, not crab with a K, that fake stuff that is really some anonymous fish with crab flavoring, oh no, oh no!

We were both underwhelmed with our main courses. AdventureMan ordered the Mate’s Plate, grilled shrimp, oysters and fish. When it arrived, we looked at it in dismay – it looked like something you pull out of the freezer and microwave:

My St. Joe’s Seafood Salad sounded really good, with fresh shrimp, scallops, crab and oysters on top, and it looked really good, but only the shrimp had any taste. The fried oysters were tasteless, as was the crab. Even the tomatoes had little taste. Their bacon vinaigrette was just OK.

I sneaked this photo of a neighbor’s Jambalaya – that Jambalaya looked REALLY good, and came with two sides. The people having Jambalaya were really chowing down – and looking like they were having a good time. If we ever go back, we know what we will try:

The place was packed. We may have just chosen the wrong things on the menu. I have to guess that most of the people were there for the outside dining and the view. It looks like they also have live music some evenings.

May 3, 2011 Posted by | Eating Out, Entertainment, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola | 6 Comments

Warden Notice Kuwait

Kuwait City, Kuwait
May 2, 2011

To: All American Wardens
From: Consular Section
Subject: Warden Notice 2011 – 10

Please circulate the following message without additions or omissions
immediately to all American citizens within your area of responsibility.
The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad
to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence following recent
counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan. Given the uncertainty and volatility of
the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause
anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their
homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations. U.S.
citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of
their surroundings at all times. This Travel Alert expires August 1, 2011.

U.S. Embassy operations in affected areas will continue to the extent possible
under the constraints of any evolving security situation. U.S. government
facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities
may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their
security posture. In those instances, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will make
every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens
abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest
U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Media coverage of local events may cause family and friends to become concerned
for their loved ones traveling and residing abroad. We urge U.S. citizens to
keep in regular contact with family and friends. U.S. citizens living or
traveling abroad are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart
Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), to receive the latest travel updates and
information and to obtain updated information on travel and security issues.
U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the appropriate
U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the
U.S. Embassy or Consulate to
contact them in case of emergency.

Travel information is also available at Up-to-date
information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free
in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and
Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

For information on “What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis,”
please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website at
For further information on specific countries, U.S. citizens should consult the
Country Specific Information pages, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings at as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and
the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ page on Facebook as well.

This message may be accessed on the Embassy website,
American citizens in Kuwait who would like to receive future Warden Messages
from the Embassy directly by e-mail may sign up for this service by sending an
e-mail to the following address:
American citizens resident and visiting in Kuwait who are not registered with
the Embassy, or whose registration information has changed, are urged to
register as soon as possible. They may now do so on-line at the Department of
State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website at
Please note that the Consular Section is closed for American and most local
holidays. The current holiday schedule for year 2011 will be posted on

May 2, 2011 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Political Issues | 1 Comment