Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Six Months in SA.

This week we hit the six month mark of being in Saudi.

*A yellow hibiscus from our front porch. Such a cheerful little flower.Half a year in this sandbox.
I hate the sand unless it is on the beach.

I can't believe it has been that long already. It still feels like yesterday when Scott dropped us off at the airport with all eight of our dish barrel boxes. I still remember the panic and tears I cried before we boarded the plane.

I remember eating nothing but cheese bread, chips and salsa, and salad with a cold coke for the first month. I do eat more variety now. Took awhile to figure out what and where to get things here.

The slow internal clock getting over jet lag with the boys.
The excitement of when our shipment arrived. The feelings of home that came after painting the first wall in our little house.

We are here and we are staying put for a while.
Sometimes I love it.
Sometimes, I just don't.

Pros of SA
  • Family time. Having lunch and dinner with dad.
  • Mike's working hours and his lack of stress from work. He's a much happier guy.
  • Mike likes the wood shop. He's made us a kitchen table and has plans for a few beds.
  • Mike also likes the golf course on camp. Very lucky to have a grass course only minutes away.
  • Extra help. Mike with the boys and our house helper, Ali.
  • Our house. It's smaller and one story, but generally we really like it.
  • Up until the past few weeks the weather has been great. Not humid, not cold, perfect.
  • We have a pretty good sized yard with four palm trees. The boys really like to play outside too.
  • Shopkeepers. Most of these people are from other surrounding countries and are generally kind and welcoming.
  • Facilities. Our camp is pretty large comparatively and is beautiful. It's green and plush. We love the pools, the playgrounds and the convenience of having shopping and services on camp.
  • The library. The boys and I go each week for a stack of new books and a few kids dvd's. We never used the libraries in Houston. We use this one ALL of the time.
  • The beach and gulf.
  • Fresh vegetable and fruit markets.
  • Camels, it's cool to drive down the highway and see them line the roads.
  • The support network of other members of our "moral" group. We feel blessed to have this.
  • I now have more confidence in myself. At first I felt stand offish. Now there are days where I think, I dare you to come talk to me. I'll tell you what I think of that. On those days Mike seems to stay by my side more. :)
  • Short commutes. The farthest place on camp is only 8 minutes away.
  • It's nice to have several US chain restaurants for the days when you feel like eating food from home.
  • Adventure. It's pretty cool to say we live in the Middle East now. We've come a long way from Logan, where our life together began.
  • Another big PRO, was the recent bonus from the King. Yes, that was pretty sweet.
Cons of SA
  • My worst days here involve the medical system.
  • Separate waiting rooms for men and women. This totally bugs me at the medical clinics. Mike and I usually stand in the hallway together in silent protest.
  • Not being able to drive off camp and only being able to drive slow on camp. I miss driving on Houston highways. Speed, I miss speed.
  • Sand. It's only fun at the beach and sand dunes. Not everywhere else.
  • Rights. Not having very many off camp.
  • Abiya. I put up with it but don't like it. I also feel uncomfortable sitting in a waiting room and being the only expat in a sea of covered faces.
  • Shopping times are dictated around prayers. I respect this, I really do. I am a firm believer in prayer. It however doesn't change the stress level that comes with shopping around the said prayer schedule. Also, every thing closes between noon and 4:30 for the most part.
  • Things close early. All the time. If it says it will close at 10, it really means 9:45 for you and the workers will be gone by 10. Drives me nuts and only escalates the time restraints on everything else.
  • No return policies. You have to make shopping decisions here very quickly and are mostly rushed (see two cons listed above). Which wouldn't be too bad if you could return a rushed purchase. Most cases you have 24 hours to 2 days. But it is tricky and there are many other stipulations as well. Also remember that to "go back" I have to have Mike drive me there or take a driver or cab.
  • Driving here. Mike doesn't like having to drive every where. Every time we leave camp I know our lives are in Mike's hands. He does a good job but it is everyone around him that drive insane! They make up lanes, drive far too fast and will make a turn in any lane in any direction.
  • Trash. Khobar is not a pretty city. (Granted there may be a few places that are.) Camp is beautiful, off camp not so much. There is trash everywhere and things just seem dirty, because for the most part they are.
  • Lack of lines and personal space.
  • Salt Water showers and laundry.
  • This may always be on my list- no gym day care. Boo.
  • Being far away from the rest of our family and friends.
  • The in between feelings of this not really being home yet and not having a home in the States anymore.
Over the past month or so, we've painted five rooms and put chair railings in the dining room. We've started to hang things on the walls and really set up this house as our home. We are investing sweat, time and money to make this place ours.

Sometimes as we sit on the couch and watch TV it feels like we are still in Katy. Then the sand storm rolls in and nope, definitely not back in Katy.

As I type this another sand storm is coming in. The boys are in bed and I can hear the dryer running. Mike is on the couch looking for shows on Netflix. So many normal things in such a not normal place.

This is a three day weekend for us and we really don't have any plans. Just more little projects to work on and another private swim lesson for Carter after another week of class lessons. This kid will swim if it's the last thing I do.

So six months down. Only 4.5 years left until we hit our five year mark. lol.
Hugs, A

No comments: