These past few weeks have been quite busy so there are a few updates, including understanding what the 4 week countdown is.
DRIVING IN SAUDI ARABIA
The last blog update ended with me about to get my drivers license. The next week I decided that I should rent a car. The first 2 places wouldn't rent to me since I didn't have my Saudi drivers license, but the 3rd didn't care so I rented the only vehicle they had left - a Hyundai Accent.
Yes, aren't I smart! Crazy drivers everywhere and I venture out in the smallest car I could find. And it had bald tires. One thing about renting vehicles here - they don't come filled up with gas or any kind of fluids.
Anyways, I took it safely and managed OK with the baby car.
I now have my Saudi license and since I'm driving 50km to work, I upgraded and now have a 2015 Honda Accord which gives me a much bigger level of comfort when driving.
These drivers are insane. At any given time, you'll find someone going 180km per hour+ and also see a 3 lane highway turned into 5...just because they want to drive aggressively.
FYI - I'm waiting until July 10th, which is my 3 months here and the bank will give an interest free loan of up to 1,000,000 Saudi Riyals, which is about $350K Canadian. Then I'll scoop up an SUV for us. Looking at either a Jeep Grand Cherokee or the Range Rover Evoque that I've drooled over since I first saw it.
OK, so the 4 week update? Lisa will be here on June 27th!!!
Her mom is visiting right now and has been super helpful with the home preparation and buying some stuff for us to bring over. Shane, Dennis, Rob, and Peter are coming to get stuff this weekend. The movers pack everything June 6th into 2 shipments - 1 comes by air in 2-3 weeks and 1 comes by sea in 4-5 months (must be doing a few laps around the world!). Lisa is officially out of the house on June 10th. Our great friends Avi & Michele have offered up a room in their home for Lisa to stay (on top of lending us their car now for the past few months). Lisa and Charlie will fly from Calgary to Amsterdam on June 26th and arrive here on the 27th. I am taking the 28th off to show her around.
Here's what had to be done to get Lisa over...crazy story!
I needed to fill in 8 or 9 documents and also get my university degree and our marriage license translated into Arabic. It takes about 3-4 weeks then to get a 'yellow slip' needed for Lisa's visa.
When I asked if there was any way to get it sooner, he said I could take it to the visa office myself. I drove in last week (Sunday AM) and filled the printout of google maps that had the red arrow to go to and no address. I didn't even know the name of the building I was looking for. After parking at the red arrow, I asked a Saudi guy and he pointed me in the right direction. I went in and found out that the appointment was made for the wrong reason and was told to go home and make a new appointment. I begged and pleaded that I couldn't and needed their help. He told me go into the next room and speak with the guy behind the glass wall. He told me to go home and set up an appointment for 1:30 that afternoon. Again, I begged and pleaded and he told me to sit down. 45 minutes later 2 security guards came and took me upstairs, one on either side. We went down a dark hallway and I thought "this is either going to end well or maybe not so much!". I went into the room and a very friendly guy signed my papers and send me downstairs to the guy behind the glass. Here is Lisa's visa that allows her to enter Saudi Arabia. Yes - once again, the hardest country in the world to get into!!
My supervisor came in and told me I hadn't booked any vacations for this year. To be honest, I didn't think I qualified for any since I was new. I guess I get some vacations that are pro-rated since I'm here for 75% of the year.
I quickly called Lisa and booked up the following:
June 28 - hang out with Lisa day
July 5-9 - not sure we can go anywhere for this one since Ramadan is still on and Lisa will need to get her Iqama and entry/exit visa before she can leave the country.
Sept.9-17 - Italy maybe?
Oct 17-24 - Island of Crete in Greece maybe?
Nov 21-26 - might go to one of 2 islands off of Africa (Maldives or Seychelles)?
We'll plan our strategy when Lisa gets here, as she will be the official travel researcher.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are options too.
That means that 15 days carry over into 2017 as well.
2 trips for sure that we'll do:
1. T&A 2017 - will discuss with the executive team this July and determine timing and location...Stay Tuned!! It should be Feb or March and either Dominican or Jamaica.
2. Repatriation trip - they pay for our flights and spending money back home - probably July ... Maybe a Whitefish reunion??
The weather is getting warmer, averaging around 40-42 Celcius this week.
Apparently, Lisa will be arriving right when it gets crazy hot (50 degrees+) and humid.
WHAT ELSE HAS BEEN HAPPENING?
I spent the last couple weeks getting some basics for our new place. You'll see some pics and videos of the new place below, as well as a few random pics...
Not sure what is up with the yellow cupboards...but they sure do brighten up the kitchen - maybe a new trend???
How about the storage space in the bedrooms? Wow! A hoarder's dream!
Hope you like the sunglasses welcome mat outside the door - T&A Sunglasses Club, baby!!!
Here's the walkway up to our place...not what you'd expect for Saudi Arabia
Here's a walk through of the new pad
Video of the main pool with outdoor cooking area
Work has been going great! Amazing team and culture. I and now fully certified on my first course, which is a 3 day course called Needs-Based Conversations put out by a company called Achieve Global. We are modifying it into a 2 day course and tweaking the name to Motivating Employees and I will be the first one doing that class.
During Ramadan, I'll be attending a Ken Blanchard course called Situational Leadership and will be certified to teach it.
In August and September, I'll be getting certified in a couple Covey courses.
Speaking of Covey, a very cool story...
I'm sure you've heard of the late Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Well, his son (Stephen M.R. Covey) wrote a book called "Speed of Trust" and runs the company now. He came to visit our Leadership Center and spoke on his book for an hour and a half. Then I sat at a table with him for lunch and heard some great stories. That afternoon, he sat with our team for about an hour and then signed his book. Pretty amazing, as he and his dad are legendary in the leadership development world!
TIME TO GO...
OK, I'm going to head back to the house to get the router and computer set up. Tomorrow's the 3rd day of our long weekend and I suppose I better see how the pool is feeling.
Hope everyone's doing well.
All posts are updated by Jeff & Lisa