Arizona, Travel Story and a Reflection
Dedicated to all my old Arizona friends. One day, I will come back for a visit. Love you all.
Ten years ago, I had a full life in Arizona as a freshwoman in Arizona State University with an awesome set of friends, a very busy schedule, a beautiful flat with a huge walk-in closet and lots of specific goals and plans. The start was a little rocky though. My first year there was the hardest. I spent the first three months crying because I missed my family so much. I was only seventeen after all and it was my first time ever leaving home. Thankfully, the craziness of the American education system and all the university activities kept me extremely busy. I also got involved with the awesome diverse Muslim community there. Soon after the first year passed, I loved the country so much I never wanted to leave. I did not mind relocating from a state to another but by the time I turned nineteen my eyes were completely set on an American life.
The heat in Arizona was insane. People find it shocking that the heat bothered me as a Saudi. They did not get that Saudi females do not really feel the heat because everywhere they go is air-conditioned and indoors, unlike Arizona, where half a dozen events are all outdoors. There were times when I was walking from one end of the ASU Tempe campus to the other and I could feel my skin melting. It was that hot! Driving everywhere is completely essential. The streets and the huge parking spaces are all made for a car-oriented lifestyle. Not to mention that the malls were so huge and full of awesome shops that you needed a car for all the shopping. My top malls were Arizona Mills, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Chandler Fashion Center and Tempe Marketplace.
Main events took place in the fall and the spring, such as the Tempe Festival of the Arts that happened twice a year. It was still warm but the little iced drinks stands helped make it enjoyable. The festival was so much fun and full of many creative people such as performers, crafters and musicians. I really looked forward to it every few months. They also had a number of various festivals. It felt like there was something new happening all the time. There was a share fair of indoor events as well such as the live musical performances at the ASU School of Music and all the Sun Devils games.
My favorite nature spots in Arizona were Sedona, a luscious green area and -of course- the mighty Grand Canyon. I visited the later three times in three different seasons, summer, fall and winter. It was a four-hour drive from Tempe. I marvelled at its beauty from the second I got there, but my brain was loaded with the stories I heard of people falling and dying so I stayed a far distance from the ledge. There was a specific point to start the hike from the top. A complete hike from the top to the bottom of the canyon takes eight hours. I only hiked one hour down and one hour up. The Grand Canyon looked beautiful in white as well. I did not attempt any sort of hiking in winter, but it was a fun place for a snow fight. In general, Arizona was full of national parks and lakes. Being there gave made me appreciate the nature and the beauty of desert. I think the best time to visit Arizona is late fall or winter. Avoid it in the summer at all costs unless you are into 45+C/100F.
Then it all ended. The clock stopped. I was very disappointed when my life took a sharp turn and all of that ended and changed to something I could not recognize. I knew that when something ends, something else fills the void and could be even more satisfying, but that did not make accepting that fate any easier. I really enjoyed my life there. It was my first ever adventures. It had many lows, but all I remember now are the highs.
This year, -a decade later- I realized how thankful I am that my life changed. All the opportunities and adventures that I lived were only made possible after that big move. I have faith that the best is yet to come.
Ps. Sorry for the lack of photos. I lost so many through the years and the relocations but believe me, Arizona is stunning!