We went to visit some Saudi friends tonight. Jeremy met them through an Arabic study buddy program. Their names are Ali and Abdullah, and they are just two of the many, many Saudi Arabians studying at the University of Arizona.
Once inside their apartment, it was just like being in the Middle East again. Ali brought out a sugary drink, a potato-based snack, and some cake on a silver tray. We sat and chatted and admired Miriam's antics. There were two birds in a cage in the corner, and photographs of the guys' selves and family in full Saudi garb on display.
I don't know if there's another culture on the planet that is so family friendly. If there is, I haven't encountered it. These two unmarried, college-age men were as interested in Miriam as American pre-teen girls are. They must have taken two dozen pictures with her. I'm sure it's only a matter of a day or two before those pictures have been emailed to all the extended family. They each come from large families (9 children in Abdullah's family; 10 in Ali's, with more possibly on the way), and said they missed spending time with little kids.
We emerged from their apartment an hour later, still very much in Tucson. But it was a nice reminder of the fun visits we have to look forward to next month when we're in Jordan.