It's been almost 2 weeks since the last update and I've received many questions wondering where the updates are. Here you go.
Before I jump in, I just want to share my wishes and thoughts for all of the people from Fort McMurray who have had such a devastating week. Makes me feel VERY proud to be a Canadian to see the way everyone has rallied around them to show support.
Also makes you feel very lucky and privileged to have the life you have. Respect.
MORE NICE PEOPLE
Remember Darien, the Canadian expat I met at the golf course in week 1? Well, she tracked me down at the Leadership Center where I work. She said they were going to the US for 2 weeks for her son's graduation from Duke University. She wanted to know if I wanted to stay at their beachfront home for 2 weeks while they were gone. Unbelievable!
Many of you may have seen a post the other day on Facebook about the cat feeder. Thought I'd share it again in case you hadn't seen it.
I'm walking to work between 5:30 and 6 the other day and a red truck pulls up. A Saudi guy hops out, shakes his Rubbermaid container and 3 cats come running to him. He leaves 3 piles of cat food for them and says he does it every day, hoping "to make their day". Good work!!
UPDATES ON OUR MOVE
A few things have been going on with our move process:
- Lisa flew to Houston for here medical, as that needs to be done prior to coming. Now I need to figure out what else has to be done to get Lisa here. Saudi really is the hardest country in the world to get into.
- we landed on the Zamil Village compound and will move in June 1st. Pretty solid deal - company pays for the place, as well as water, electrical, cable, and Internet. Here are the pics again
I should have my drivers license this week - pretty funny story about the eye test at the hospital - they were closing at 4PM and it was about 3:58 ... Checked my left eye - all good. Kept rushing and said cover your left eye - tested my right eye with the biggest letter and they said, "OK, all good" and stamped the form. Nice!
Next step will be to get a vehicle. Then the adventure begins. I've seen crazy drivers and for those of you who've see Dominican drivers, these guys are waaaaaay worse! Not sure if I've shared this but Saudi averages 20 traffic fatalities a day. And that's people dying at the scene. It's over 40 if you count people that die after the accident. Jesus! Going to buy a solid SUV!
Our Calgary lawyer emailed me the home sale papers so I could get them signed by a notary public. This was quite a gong show. Cabbed to the lawyer here and showed up about 8:30. They said the notary wasn't here until 10. OK, what do we do ... One guys says he will sign the witness part. Another guy shows up with a fancy looking box and they stamp the papers. Then the 2nd guy takes my papers and leaves. Shows up 2-3 minutes later and they are miraculously signed. OK, pay the $250US and don't ask any questions. Papers are now en route to Canada via the courier. Saudi law!
Work has been absolutely amazing. Working with a bunch of professionals and developing future leaders here is exactly what I love doing. Had my first work test this week, doing "C1" or "Certification 1". Prepped hard and nailed it so I'm on to my 2nd certification this week. I should be fully certified for course 1 of 7 within 3 weeks, right before Ramadan, which is when everything kind of grinds to a halt here...more on that in a future update
I took a walk into the neighbouring town Rahima the other night. Had some killer chicken shawarma and wandered around. Quite a mix of Saudi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and Philipino there. Interesting thing - there is 'man street' and 'woman street'. You can go onto either one but man street is all men's clothing, hardware, and electronics. Woman street is ladies clothing, perfumes, and jewelry. No stereotyping there. Wonder where the 'in betweens' go? Here are some pics of Rahima...not the prettiest place I've seen. Many areas look like scenes from Hollywood movies like American Sniper.
CINCO DE MAYO PARTY
Last Thursday, one of my co-workers invited me to a Mexican party for the May 5th Cinco de Mayo party.
This was incredible. There's a family on the compound (he's German, she's Mexican) who has a Mexican party EVERY Thursday. We get there and they have pop and monitor mix, fresh tortillas, pick, salsa, guacamole. Then you order chicken or beef fajitas and sit outside.
There is a microphone stand and a guitar - people come and sit around, playing music. It was a very cool experience. Remind me to tell you about 'sid' or 'sidiqui' when I see you - this is not the place to discuss it. Here are some pics...
WHY IS BAHRAIN INSANE?
I received my Iquama 2 weeks ago and then applied for my multiple entry Visa, which means I can leave and return to Saudi...which means I can venture over the 25km causeway (bridge) to Bahrain.
I didn't know what to expect except that many people (including Saudis) go over there on weekends to do B&B. BOOZE & BACON.
Pork and Alcohol are allowed there. So are many others things!
It is a beautiful island with unbelievable architecture, as seen in pics below.
The malls are amazing and they have movie theatres (which are banned in Saudi). In fact, many people go to Bahrain for a day for a beer, to get pork, and then to watch a movie and come home.
I went not Bahrain last weekend for the day - a day bus was $10US return. It was so good, I went back this weekend and stayed overnight. On the way in, I saw a camel farm right in the city - pretty cool.
Bahrain is supposed to have the highest concentration of prostitutes in the world, making Bangkok and Amserdam look like nothing. Many massage parlours. I ran into an Irish guy in JJ's Irish Bar and he said it's for 2 reasons...there's MANY Saudi's who come over for the adventure and also there's a US Naval Base in Bahrain.
But the craziest thing I have seen here is pretty cool and I can't wait to go to one when Lisa gets here - it's a Friday Brunch.
Yes, we have brunch in Canada, but this is different...
Every hotel puts on "Friday Brunch" from `` or noon Friday until 4 or 5. They're brunches are unreal - you name the food...every dessert imaginable, stir fry, pasta, every type of meat and seafood....it truly is crazy. They charge anywhere from $30-75 each. But the kicker is that they include alcohol. All you want!!
They all have DJ's or bands playing music. People go around and bring you any booze you want.
Yesterday, there were people dancing on tables, dancing by the pool. It truly was a sight to see!!
Anyways, here are some pics of Bahrain...
OK, I'm back in Saudi now. At the mall for some shopping before I head back to the compound.
Until next time, stay safe and keep in touch!
All posts are updated by Jeff & Lisa