Rick and Rianne Chimblo, hosts of this year's Saudi Aramco Annuitants Reunion - Hafla 2012 - could not have chosen a more beautiful setting for the reunion retreat. The JW Marriot Tucson Starr Pass Resort and Spa is nestled within 50 acres of lush land across the Tucson Mountain Park. As a backdrop, the hotel is set up against foothills covered in proud cacti while the front of the hotel looks out across the city of Tucson. Inside, the hotel is grand in size and styled in Southwestern elegance. Friday was arrival day for most annuitants. Volunteers managing the reunion registration desk handed out bright yellow Tucson Hafla bags filled with the weekend's itinerary, meal menus, a special message from Prince Sultan Ibn Salman Ibn Abdulaziz Al Sa'ud, the 2013 Saudi Aramco World calendar, and a special DVD edition of the film ARABIA contributed by executive producer and annuitant Hugh Renfro. ARABIA has been playing in IMAX theaters around the world. The 3D film invites you to travel to an exotic and extraordinary land. For more information visit www.arabia-film.com. Hugh was on location at every film shoot in Saudi Arabia. As shooting in Araiba is so rare, Hugh's knowledge and personal relationships in The Kingdom, built over 40 years, proved to be an invaluable asset to producing the film.
Friday was also the day for the exhibits where services and merchandise were made available to attendees. The booths included Aramco Services Company, Reilly Financial Advisors, Vangaurd, Linda Gunter-Goodman selling her handmade jewelry made of semi-precious stones, Juana Johnson selling jewelry, saris and other merchandise, Judy MacDonnell's books, and David Jessich's display of rare stamps, banknotes, coins, and license plates.
At 5:30 every night on the hotel patio that overlooks the city of Tucson, the hotel hosts a free specialty Tequila shot toast set to the story of Poncho Villa and how he won the hand of his beloved Juanita. Following the toast, guests were treated to live Spanish guitar music. Friday's business-casual dinner, a feast of Mexican specialties, was held in the Tucson banquet room. A lively mariachi band performed throughout dinner, followed by announcements and presentations, then a cash raffle.
As the sun set over Tucson, the Tucson "Hafla" 2012 was well under way. Friendships formed under unique circumstances amidst the dunes of Saudi Arabia were reinvigorated and memories of the good 'ole days with Aramco were shared.