April 10, 2016 - Go Time
Updated by Jeff
Doing this blog from my cell so hope it works. Here's an update on the past couple of weeks...
Since we announced that we are moving, we've had lots of questions and a ton of support from everyone.
A great Easter weekend was spent with Dad and Arn (Jeff's brother). Great to see them before going.
The following weekend was the "send off weekend" that started as a 1-day party but quickly escalated into a 2-day debacle. They must've really wanted to get rid of us! A visit from many Calgary and Edmonton friends including a great friend, Jeff Aston, who detoured back from Vegas to join for the party! An incredible night Saturday filled with a limo ride, ugly shirt party, and a ton of amazing friends! Check Facebook for many pics/blackmail.
The following week was my last day at work. The amazing team there surprised me with an impromptu meeting, which turned out to be a slide show including a freaking hologram of me! WTF??? That was awesome! And they gave me a cool card with personalized messages from everyone, which I've read several times over the past few days! Had a few pints to celebrate with them Wednesday!
Thursday - packed our sports memorabilia and went with Rob and Avi to Jr's place to store it. Thanks again guys for the ride and storage! Gave the Juniors our Christmas tree and decorations since we can't bring them into Saudi! Before we left, we seized the opportunity to meet Doubles at the new Pour pub in their neighbourhood. Great people.
Spent my last Friday hanging with Lisa since we won't see each other for a couple months! A beauty day in Calgary which included a long walk with pub breaks to ensure we were hydrated! Also celebrated selling Lisa's Jeep, even though it was a $16k loss. Fak! We also went to the NE part of Calgary to go Abaya shopping for Lisa. An abaya is the dark dress she will wear off the compound - just google it.
Friday and Saturday was more time with friends, as I got to see the greatest friends one could ask for before leaving. It sounds like they are all in for the 2017 T&A trip...right?? After dinner at the Keg, Junior gave me this handmade art to bring with me for memories of some amazing times...pretty awesome!
Sunday, April 10th was departure day, as we borrowed the Patel's SUV to cart my 4 suitcases, computer, and golf clubs to the airport. An $800 shipping fee later, it was time for a teary goodbye with Lisa before going.
Flight from Calgary to Frankfurt, Germany
Got onto the new Air Canada Dreamliner plane and sat in the new pods they have. Aramco paid for business class ($2800) one way - yikes! The experience was top notch - killer menu, free booze, great charging system for phones, lots of movies, and a reclining bed that actually has a massager! Really? Wifi was down but I guess I'll settle! Here are some pics - the smiling old guy pic was meant to show the booze, not him! Flew over Greenland - pretty cool!
Landed and quickly connected to wifi. Had about 50 messages and emails from Lisa that we had an offer on our house and she negotiated and needs papers signed and back to her within 4 hours. Shit! No problem, downloaded an app called HelloSign, signed the papers and sent to her and the realtor! Friggin cool!
Bought a small Bluetooth keyboard at the airport that I'm using now. Pretty slick!
Flight from Frankfurt to Dammam
OK, I thought the paper signing thing at the airport was cool. On this 5 hour flight there was wifi so of course I connected. Right away I get another email from Lisa with a "sign this quickly" message. Download the papers, sign them, send back... All from a fucking airplane! Wow!
Flew over Sarejevo, Kosovo, Athens... Future trip?? I think so!
Flying over Saudi Arabia - lots of sand!
Gonna land soon, better check the temperature. This is 7:44pm Saudi time and Celcius
I get into the airport and there are hundreds of people waiting to go through there very strict customs process, which can apparently take 3-5 hours.
Following my instructions, I go to the Aramco Lounge and meet the guy who tells me to get my bags and come back. All bags show up! Yes! He then takes me to the front of the customs line. Yep, I was that guy! Guess there's some pull when the country's king owns the company!
Went through customs and the guy was super nice - only checked 2 bottles that the scanner showed as potential alcohol. They turned out to be BBQ sauce and hot sauce from Nashville.
I go through and meet Ron and Randy from Aramco who will drive me to my temporary accommodation. Stop to drop off my passport for the Iquama (Saudi residency permit) which arrives in 2-3 weeks with my passport #scary
Ras Tanura compound
After 30 minutes or so, we arrive at the Ras Tanura compound. It is on the peninsula, as shown on the map in the first blog. I'm in a compound called Radhwa and the main area is Najmah.
We unload my stuff into my temp accommodation and they give me a tour of the peninsula, noting that the proper term is now Arabian Gulf and not Persian Gulf.
I get dropped off at the "commissary" which is a grocery store. Thinking Lisa may be wondering if I'm dead, I better get wifi and call her - no wifi. Shit! Security guy saves me by creating a hot spot for me to connect to. Thanks to him!
Back to my temporary pad - instantly go into "holy shit" mode. Small, dirty, and no cooking tools. Bread but no toaster. Corn Flakes but no milk. And WTF is that toilet hose thing? Really??? A "bum gun"??
Telling myself this is temporary and will get better. Glad I came first, as Lisa would've had us back at the airport already. Tired...off to sleep!
Tuesday, April 12 - 1st day in Saudi
Wake up and unpackd everything. Showered up and told myself to get some cleaner at the grocery store for this bathroom.
Off for a coffee and to go get a SIM card for my phone. Store opens at 10, I wait til 10:20 and guy comes to say he isn't working today since his air conditioning isn't working. Damn!
Off for a walk to see the Najmah compound!
Wow! This place is beautiful! Lots of people running and driving their golf carts. Walked to the beach and was snapping pics. Met Scarlet walking her dog as she asked if I'm new! Guess the photo taking gave it away. Super friendly lady from North Carolina who has lived here for 4 years with her husband and 2 kids. Nice to chat with someone!
So many killer beach homes with awesome patios! Hoping like crazy that we can get one of them! Fingers crossed!
Walked the beach and the complexes, seeing the swimming pools, cafes, bowling alley, ball diamond, mini golf, and Leadership Center that I'll be working at. Everyone has been so friendly! Here are some pics
Ok, fingers are sore from typing and I need to go buy groceries and some bathroom cleaner. Thanks for taking the time to read this novel.
Feel free to comment.
Orientation is Wednesday and Thursday, then off for 2 days. Hopefully some golf! Stay tuned for more....
4/12/2016 09:15:49 am
Thanks for the update! Enjoy the warm weather and bum gun! LOL
4/12/2016 11:12:59 am
Enjoy the journey!!!
4/13/2016 07:06:39 am
Experience of a lifetime JT!
4/15/2016 09:02:59 am
The Compound looks unreal guy!! I'm sure it will be hard to enjoy. ttyl
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All posts are updated by Jeff & Lisa