October 18, 2007

saudi 32

Aug 30, 2007


Hey, the world is full of little victories. I have another computer which successfully
allows me to use Skype without me sounding like a verizon commercial. There are still
some bugs to work out … and I can now listen to Minnesota Public Radio. Yippee.

So, I just finished listening to the local station that plays Arabic music and now listening
to something wonderfully baroque…. Life is good.

I’ve been here 10 days, square danced twice, scrabbled nearly every day. First day back I
was clobbered 915 to 556 (super scrabble, more tiles and quadruple score squares).

Customs went rather well. At first they complained about something when looking at my
passport so I thought they questioned my citizenship. No red ink, I finally understood. I
had filled out the form in red ink – a no no. I was told later it is a throwback to
communism. Once I filled out the form in black, it went very smoothly. I did receive
some minor scrapes and bumps in the line around the baggage claim machine.

I had to rework my office and I admit the first days back at work have been filled with
hugs and coffee. The main cafeteria is closed. We have a Coffee Bean (like starbucks) on
campus. The ladies came in to get set up for the start of school, but they made the mistake
of leaving there door unlocked. A small herd of us walked in and the marketing teacher in
the herd convinced them to open since we were thirsty and starving. So, the first day
there were some kinds of coffee and the ladies who work there haven’t spoken English in
two months. The most challenging part of the first week at work was communicating
with the Coffee Bean staff. But one must understand when there is a will there is a
way… and when humans decide there is mutual trust it is even better. So, I paid for
breakfast (for 2 of us) with a 50 riyal bill; the lady had no change. So she wrote 16 on a
piece of paper. Later in the day I went down for another coffee and something, and paid
for it with a piece of paper with 16 written on it along with some more cash.

I look forward to seeing some students next week. We are registering freshmen next
week as well. I hope they will let us cap enrollment at 40 – no more than 50. We are still
short faculty – so any MA or MFA female is interested, let me know.

The world is an amazing place. When I came back to the US, the first new thing I saw
was Coke Plus. What’s that? Coke with vitamins and minterals. An oxymoron if you ask
me. Her a company is making a sorbet, either raspberry, lemon/lime or mango. Oooooo
are they good. The company name is Miranda (I think). I did find flavored water in the
US that was not carbonated and sugar free. I hope to find it here, too, so I will be
encouraged to quit diet Pepsi. Pepsi, by the way, is a much bigger brand here than Coke.

My dishwasher died while I was gone. They brought in another one from an empty villa.
The guys hooked it up and within minutes they were shutting it down and running for the
mop. So, #2 was hauled out. Good that I got used to handwashing dishes in the States. No
choice, as my dishwasher died just after I came to Saudi Arabia in 2005.

Oh – a new restaurant opened a couple weeks ago: UNO Chicago Grill. I guess it is
American chain, but it is very good. One of the desserts is beyond brilliant – a chocolate
/peanut butter filling on an oreo cookie crust with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, covered
with chocolate and peanut butter sauces… ooooooooooooooo.

They also have the first pizza "pie" I’ve had since I left Kansas City in 1968. It is more
like a pie shell filled with the topping and cheese. Yum.

Recognizing that I am back in the land of carbs and great food, I have walked the track
once (sort of), danced twice and gone swimming.

Swimming – there I admit I am spoiled. I have always like warm water – a bit of a wuss
when it comes to cold water. I don’t like the adjustment period. The pool water is hot. It
would kill yeast. I thrive in that kind of water….

Otherwise, the world is good. The Kings Abdullah continue to press for peace and
understanding in the Middle East.

Sept 7

Friday. School begins tomorrow. Most of the freshman still haven’t registered yet.. I
expect next week to be a bit zooey…

Did I ever tell you that potato chips are in the ethnic food aisle of the super market?

The stores are preparing for Ramadan – a month long celebration. No one eats or drinks
between sunrise and sunset. It marks the month that the Archangel Gabriel started
dictating the Koran to Mohamed. (The Prophet)

There is a special colorful cloth that merchants use to decorate the entrances of their
stores. May stores hold drawings for gifts. One store is raffling off a Mercedes. This is a
time of generosity also. As Eid (the end of fasting approaches) merchants pile bags of
rice on the corners of streets for the poor to take.

This time I did not have visa trouble getting in, nor did Ms. K, the one who usually has
visa trouble. But, for those getting work visas this year, a last minute form has faculty
stranded in Canada, Jorden and Godknows where else.

Again, good see everyone this summer.

S of a

at October 18, 2007 2:04 PM