Life is so good!. I know we have only been here less than a month but so far life is good.
Our experience in China for the past three years has made this transition to Saudi Arabia a piece of cake. What seems irritating and inconvenient to others here, doesn't seem bad at all. Yes, there are some things that can become frustrating but the difference here is that we can escape to our normal life in the compound. We don't have to live right in the midst of it all.
We have just heard that our Iqama's are ready which means we can now get mobile phones, internet, satellite tv, bank account, and most importantly a car. Once we get these things, life will be even better. It hasn't been too bad without a car. The compound has a van that will take us shopping to either the grocery store or mall four days a week and then Tamimi's (Safeway) has a van that will pick us up twice a week. The help of our neighbors and friends for all the other little errands has made it very convenient and easy to get what we need.
Having our Iqama's also means we can now get the process started to receive our shipment from China. It is supposed to arrive in the next few days but we weren't able to start the paperwork to get it cleared through customs when it arrives until we had our Iqama's. It may still take a few weeks but at least I know I will be seeing our things that we left in China four months ago in the near future.
The Iqama is like a green card in the US. It just shows that we have permission to work here in Saudi Arabia.
We are really loving the simplicity of our lives here. The school doesn't require us to give our entire lives to it. We are asked to offer an after school activity but it is only once a week from 2:30 - 3:30 and they pay you extra for it. Both Gavin and I will be coaching Volleyball starting this week which fulfills our requirement of the after school activities. I will be coaching the MS girls A team and Gavin will be coaching the JV girls team. Practices are only twice a week from 2:30-3:30 but we could have more if we want. Nicole will be trying out for the MS team and Jonny the boys JV team.
On Wednesday night, which is our Friday night here, Gavin and I walked down to Hyper Panda to do some grocery shopping. It is located in a small mall only a few blocks from our house. The mall has a food court so we decided to make it a date and have dinner. The food court had a KFC, Hardy's, Popeyes, a sub shop, fish and chips, an Italian place, Chinese (which we won't have too much), Lebanese food, and of course an Arab place with our favorite Shawarma's. We were able to have a great meal for only $8.00 for the both of us. The food court has two separate eating sections. One is only for men and the other is a family section for men and women. After dinner we just walked around Hyper Panda which is like a Super Walmart back home. We spent about two hours just wandering around seeing what is available here. We are finding that we can find just about everything we need. Most of it is cheaper or just a little more than back home but we don't have to pay sales tax here so it still becomes a bargain.
We left both agreeing that it was a very cheap and pleasant date, something that we would never have been able to do in China. Whenever we wanted to go out to eat in China it became just too much of a hassle. Our choices in China were McDonalds, KFC, cheap Chinese food that would always make Gavin sick, or foo foo expensive restaurants. We would walk around and become frustrated that we either had to pay way too much for crappy food or eat greasy unhealthy McDonalds. Our dinner out here was cheap, good and a very pleasant experience.
Shawarma's have become one or our favorite foods so far here. It is their version of a chicken burrito on flat bread. So instead of going to Taco Bell for bean burritos, we will be heading down to the food court for Shawarma's.
A few weeks ago it was Jonny's 15th birthday. It was only a week after we had gotten here and we felt bad because we weren't able to get out and find him a cool birthday present. We had brought a few things from home to give to him but he really wanted an iPod dock with an alarm clock. We looked here but just couldn't find the right thing for him. On his birthday we decided to take him to the mall and just let him walk around and look for something. He found some really cool Van high tops but of course they didn't have his size. Just as we were leaving the mall we passed a store that sold Apple products and he was able to find the perfect iPod dock with alarm clock and speakers. It was a little more expensive than what we would have paid back home but it was his birthday and we were glad to find exactly what he wanted. He had a great birthday with his friends here swimming and just hanging out.