Settling in to Saudi.
* Just a reminder - you can click on photos to enlarge them and scroll over them to see comments *
This blog starts out with a pic of our great friends back home. Obviously we are missing them a lot and what hits our hearts even more is when we know they're all together having fun and we are missing out on the shenanigans!
GREAT friends is what makes this life amazing! CHEERS everyone!!
What is life like for Lisa?
Here's a week in the life of Lisa...
Most mornings I hit the gym after my tea. 2 days a week, other girls from the compound meet me to gather around my laptop and do the body pump workout. At the end of September, a trainer comes in to teach it twice a week. I'm looking forward to some of the other classes that start back up in Sept...especially kick boxing so I can whoop Jeff's ass! They are re-doing parts of the gym so I've missed it the past week. Oh well, it will be even better once it's completed this week.
I've been taking the compound bus to various shops, hitting malls and souqs (local markets). It's pretty handy since I can just take it to grab groceries or grab a tea, even walk around the mall for exercise. Buses run twice daily to various places so there are lots of options. I can even go to one of the malls that has Tim Hortons!!! Most stores are very similar to the ones back home and you'll be happy to hear that I've found some killer deals on Nine West shoes!!! Smiley face!
Lisa's finding quite a bit of 'gross' food at the stores. The pic below has a goat carcass (special buy of the week) but we've also seen goat feet and camel meat. Yum!
Check the pic of the coloured chicks from the pet store below. We may buy a Rider green and white one - RIDER CHICK!
There are watermelon trucks all over the place - pics below! They are freakin huge! They mean business when they grow watermelons here. Great for Rider fans and anyone who likes big melons! Ha
Lunches with the girls from the compound
Since I've been meeting some fun girls on the compound, we try to go weekly for a lunch somewhere, either by bus or cab. I've included some pics of a patio on the waterfront below. It is the Arabian Gulf. It was super hot and humid so had to sit inside. We will be back for sure! Found a place called "Paul" that has awesome soup and fresh bread!
We've started a tradition where friends on the compound show up Thursday around 6:30 by the pool for BBQ and 'juice'. Thursday night is the "Saudi Friday night" since our weekend is Friday and Saturday. We've even started bringing the ladder golf game. We get 20 people or so and everyone brings bathing suits and we end up in the pool before AND after supper to cool off. Whoever grills loses about 5 pounds of sweat. Great marinade!
We haven't met any fellow Canadians but it's pretty cool that we all sit around and chat with people from almost every continent. There are people from US, Ireland, UK, South Africa, Australia, Portugal, Germany, Venezuela, and a few other European countries.
Yes Michele, Lisa has really been working on her accents.
So far, Lisa's favourite 'new' word is Lilo. That is the term they use for air mattresses or 'floaties' for the pool. When we say 'floaties', they think we are referring to poo.
Friday is a religious day here and nothing opens until 12:30 (not even restaurants!) so sleeping in is a good thing to do on Friday mornings!
Dhahran Aramco camp golf course
We've been going to the Aramco compound which is 10 minutes away and walking around the golf course at night. It's only 5.8km but in 80-90% humidity, it gets pretty sticky! There are some pics of the paths and cactus shown below. The golf course lights up so you can golf at night. There's also a great mexican restaurant from Texas called El Chico there. Great patio!
We use our pool pretty much every weekend for a few hours and even go there a couple nights a week. A great way to cool off, since its chilled. If they don't chill them, the pools get too hot to go into. Crazy!
There are geckos all over. Little bastard came into our place a couple weeks ago. Some pics are below!
People don't freak out about it because its so common here. Like finding a spider back home. Lisa checks the bed nightly before hopping into bed to make sure none are there. That's not the lizard she needs to worry about! Haha
As we mentioned, there have been several 80-90% humidity days. The windows sweat since the inside is cool from the air conditioner (or air con for our UK friends here). The drive to Bahrain was very hazy from all the humidity!
Also looking forward to doing some bowling this fall!
Buying a vehicle in Saudi
Quite a process buying a vehicle over here. Tons of paperwork, deposits, etc. But finally got the new wheels and even met a guy that looked like Mo at the bank!
Was looking at Audi and Land Rover...really wanted an Evoque. They were all in the range of $300,000SAR (just over $80K US). The Jeep was $141,000 ($37K US). Couldn't beat that price and love the ride that this Jeep offers.
How is Jeff's job going?
I'm loving the job. I've been teaching the "Motivating Employees" course and am now getting certified in "Leadership Challenge" by Kouzes & Posner. It's a 4-day course and there's also a 2-day "Introduction to Leadership Challenge" that I'll be teaching. I'm also going to be doing Blanchard's "Situational Leadership" course in October.
Great job, motivating to inspire the Aramco leaders each day!! I feel so fortunate to have gained the experience back home to be able to do this job!
How is Charlie the Cat doing?
He's settling in and lying on every piece of furniture. He's gaining a few pounds since the place is smaller and he can't run wild like before. He loves his high end cat bed (AKA Nine West shoe box).
Love this first pic of him when you expand the pic!
Lisa got her multi entry-exit visa and we finally went last weekend. The 25km causeway was a bit busy on the way over (1.5 hours) but we got home Saturday within 1 hour.
They can definitely work on efficiency, as there was 6 checkpoints just to get out of the country.
We stopped for breakfast and ordered extra bacon. It's amazing what you miss when you don't have it!! Hit the mall for a bit and saw a huge lineup, thinking it was a big sale. Nope! Lineup for the 10AM movies, as many people come over to Bahrain just to watch a movie, since theatres are banned in Saudi.
Checked into the hotel - has a pool bar, lounge, british pub, and 10 restaurants.
After the pub for bacon and beer, we hit the pool bar for a bit, the mexican restaurant, and then closed down the pub. Lisa is still complaining that they had no Captain!
Woke up groggy on Saturday - must've been the humidity! Had breakfast (yes...bacon) and then hit the grocery store.
I walked up to the butcher with a huge stack of bacon, back bacon, sausage, and ribs. He took a look, said "Saudi wrap?" and then proceeded to label it as "New Zealand short ribs", "turkey sausage", etc. Love it!
$160 US and a full freezer later, we are set for a little while!!
Bahrain....we will be back!
It's been interesting looking at travel, as we can fly from Dammam in Saudi (45 minutes away) or from Bahrain which can depend on the causeway traffic.
Here's the action-packed agenda coming up...
Sept.9-17 - Italy. Pics/stories to come in the next blog. Thanks to Avi & Michele for the great tips on where to go. Rome, Venice, Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii, Naples
Sept.23-25 - Dubai. Have heard so much - excited to check it out for the weekend.
Oct.17-23 - Greece. Booked into an all-inclusive resort on the island of Crete.
Nov.21-26 - Sri Lanka. Everyone here raves about this trip. Visiting Kandy (elephant orphanage, tea factory), Ravana waterfalls, Yala jungle safari (leopards, monkeys, crocodiles), then to a surfing village near Galle. Very excited for a safari!
Feb.14-26 - T&A 2017 in the Dominican Republic. We will be sooooo excited to see our friends in the DR. Many will meet us at the Puerto Plata airport and we're sure the cab ride to the resort will be out of control. Hope to see everyone there!
June 29-July 19 - trip back to Canada...Calgary, Saskatchewan, Vernon, Ontario. A few other pit stops...details to come.
August 28-Sept.13 - anyone want to do an African safari? Let us know.
We hope you enjoyed this update. Stay tuned for the next update around September 18th or 19th with an update from Italy! We'll end with a few random shots from Saudi.
Hope you're all doing well!
Jeff & Lisa
All posts are updated by Jeff & Lisa