Two other teachers and I decided to check out the Princess Sook on a Saturday morning. We were pressed together in the back seat of Akiem’s taxi for well over 30 minutes, so I was very relieved when we finally arrived.
We entered a long, dusty road filled with bumper-to-bumper cars and people overflowing from the make- shift sidewalks. And this was at 9:30 a.m.! I tried to imagine what it would look like later in the day, and decided that it would be almost to move. There were small mom and pop shops lined on one side of the street and selling almost everything, while open air vendors were pressed together on the other side; their wares spread out on quilts and blankets.
And exactly what is a sook ? I could only compare it to a very, very large flea market. The San Jose flea market pales in size comparison. There are dozens of vendors yelling “Sister, sister, come look here.” They are selling racks upon racks of used clothing. I didn’t realize that a basic black abaya could have so many variations. I bought two skirts, each for 5 SAR or about $1.50. One of my companions bought two abayas trimmed in beautiful designs for about 10 SAR or $3.25.
We walked for what seemed like a very long time, through rows and rows of clothing that literally surrounded us. When we stumbled back out into the sunlight, we saw all kinds of household furniture, lined up and color coordinated to entice buyers.
There were small barns filled with carpets and rugs, clusters of washers and dryers, groups of vacuum cleaners, rooms filled with dinette sets, and sometimes just plain old junk. One vendor tried to sell me a used cushion for 10 SAR; outrageous! But, it was then that I noticed a man I’d seen in the clothes section, the furniture section and everywhere that we had been! I was sure that we were being followed, and I whispered as much to my two companions. They both turned simultaneously to have a look at the man and, having been caught, he scurried off and disappeared into the crowd. A short time later, Akiem and his taxi arrived to take us home.
The ride home was mostly uneventful and we walked through our doors sweaty, dusty and happy with our super sook finds.
 In fact, I learned that “sook” is the Arabic word for any large store or mall.