Thursday, February 05, 2015

One Month In

We've been in country for a month now, so we've had about four iterations of our weekly schedule punctuated by all the one-off activities that go along with moving to a new place...or the death of a king...or a visit by the President of the United States. Here's a summary of how it's going:

1) The work week schedule hurts my brain. The Saudi work week runs Sunday to Thursday, with the holy day observed on Friday. Apparently, my psyche is so engrained with the idea that the work week is Monday to Friday that I have a really hard time remembering what day of the week it is. Except for Friday, which I had no problem accepting as a recurring day off. Friday night is the social night for sitting around with friends into the wee hours of the morning. Saturdays are still Saturdays, but not so many people are out as on Friday because "tomorrow's a work day." When Sunday comes around, even though I know that it's the first day of the work & school week, my brain will register it as a Monday and I'll end up thinking that I am one day closer to the weekend than I actually am. It also doesn't help that my phone's alarm settings are limited to "On", "Off", and "Weekdays"...which it believes are Monday-Friday and not Sunday-Thursday (which is really annoying when trying to sleep in on Friday or when waking up late on Sunday).

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2) The death of King Abdullah. This was probably the most significant event that occurred on a national level. It happened on a Friday, which is the first day of the weekend here in Saudi Arabia. The mourning period lasted through Sunday, which you'll recall is the first day of the work week, so government offices and schools that are normally in session were closed. Kind of like getting a snow day.

3) President Obama visits Saudi Arabia's new King Salman. Fortunately, the President visited Riyadh and not Jeddah, so the visit didn't cause much of a disturbance to daily life here. However, the media picked up on the First Lady's clothing choices, and my wife posted about how the media got it wrong. Also, the Daily Show had a great piece about how many top US officials hopped i on this boondoggle visit.

4) I got my Saudi Driver's license! Of course, on the first dayout  driving on my own, I got stuck behind a three car accident at an intersection. The rule is that you basically leave the cars where they are until the police show up, which meant I had to weave through the accident site to make a left turn. And I stand by my initial assessment of what it's like to drive in Saudi Arabia.
I had to go right of (1), the left of (2), and the left of (3),
which put me into on-coming traffic while making a left turn.
5) We set up our internet using STC's 4G wireless router system. It's pretty cool, and doesn't require anyone to come out to install it since it works the same as your smartphone on a 4G network. The buildings here aren't great for reception though, so we had to get an antenna to improve the Wi-Fi range. That only took several weekends and several different stores to figure out. We had been considering a few other options but just gave up because we had something that worked well enough.

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6) We hired a housekeeper. She visits on a weekly basis for a few hours, but at least the chaos our kids cause is reset every week...and the cycle begins again when they come home from school. It still seems weird to have someone come over to clean up for us (especially since we are still waiting for our main household goods shipment), so much so that we sometimes clean up before she arrives so that our house doesn't look that messy. There were lots of other little things good and bad, but those were the highlights.
Happiness is...a chocolate milkshake on a warm day.
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