October 26, 2005

Saudi part10

From Sandy:

Oct 22 (I think).

Well, I did it – took a dip in the pool. Am now officially on vacation and it was a culture shock. The pools in northern Minnesota and Central Michigan tended to be cold. I always tried to find the “warmist” spot in the pool. Here, the pools are very warm –not a big surprise mentally, but gone is that first bone-chilling dive into the water. It’s like swimming in a bathtub. I’m told that sometimes the water is too hot to swim in. Parboiled, I guess. That is actually the challenge with showers here. Both the hot and cold water taps produce some variety of hot water. I nearly boiled myself alive the first few attempts.

Like I said, we have all these feral cats. A whole bunch were rounded up and “taken to the fish market” a month or so ago. Now we have a new batch – a batch that has been fed more than the others, which means
a) they don’t go after mice and rats – the purpose of the cats in the first place
b) they are major pests – under foot at every turn, always wanting food
c) some of the residents feed them constantly, so they are spoiled, want into your house and it is tricky trying to get in without letting a few of the five cats at your feet in with you.
d) Depressing to know how quickly a cat can become annoying. Sorry, Doreen.
e) The staff says they have to get rid of this bunch because they are not doing their job and generally drive everyone crazy. They are too feral to adopt. One nearly took Heidi’s nose off last night.

I finally found a guitar. I was very excited. Kate, Heidi and I wandered through the mall looking for other goodies and I realized quite a few people looked at the western woman wearing an abaya with a guitar in a nylon case slung over her back… ah, the good old days – thinking of the guitar, anyway.

Lots of people are heading out for Ramadan break. By tomorrow morning more will be gone. I look forward to their return.

Hopefully I will get my work visa and Icama (a country ID) very soon so I can get a bank account. It will make wiring money to the US much easier.

Another successful shopping trip yielded a new mobile phone (they call them moe-biles) so my number is: 0561548728i

I brought home lots of books, have the guitar and plans for reading, preparing the rest of classes and swimming in the pools. (We have two.) On a warm sunny day, sitting the by pool under the forever blue sky, this really is a bit of a resort.

On another note – try to find a sweatshirt in Saudi Arabia. No easy deal. So I was thrilled to find a denim (my favorite material) work shirt in – a super market. Oh, and they have a new kind of supermarket here called a hyper-market. We westerners kid around about being hyper to go into one. You cannot image how big these are and how many items they carry. Minus the pharmacies, a hypermarket is like a super Wal-Mart with more produce, a bakery from heaven, delis carrying food that baffles me still. These stores have bakeries with stone fired ovens.

On another note: Most of the cheese here is white because they do not color the food. That is interesting. The tostido chips for nachos are very hard to find and the bag says “genuine – from America”. The yogurt to me is bitter. I finally had Laban, the stuff that is packaged similarly to milk. I was told it was like buttermilk. Wrong, it is a liquid yogurt and it is bitter tasting. Found that out at one of the Iftars I went to last week.

So, it’s nearly 11:00 at night. The compound is quiet. Wilma is stuck over Cancun and Tom Delay had to appear in court. Giggle on the latter. He claims this is all politically motivated, but boy, when Clinton was in office he sang a different tune.

So, I’ve been trying to get hooked into some of the phone services that are free. Am afraid I’m going to have to buy a second computer – a IBM so that all this will work. Cloquet is off sequence for voynage and don’t know if you folks can get skype.


if you set up an account that with a headset you can call pc to pc at no cost and on this a mac supposedly works – if Saudi Arabia does.

Bella cleaned today and left the front door open because I keep my house to cold for her. The screen door must have been slightly open and I have thus hear the clicking of a you know what. At one point I was gecko free.

Happy Ramadan….

at October 26, 2005 8:23 AM