January 10, 2006

Saudi 15

Saudi 15
Nov 27

It has definitely gotten a bit cooler. All the trees are flowering and the cactus, too. (Photos will follow.) Here it gets too hot to bloom.

The mosquitos are very small. You can’t feel them bite, but the bites do itch. They leave me alone, perhaps because anatomically I have very thick skin. I have been told by surgeons over the years, that my hide is hard to hack into, perhaps that’s why the mosquitos leave me pretty much alone. Obviously, my skin emotionally is quite thin, though it has slowly thickened a very little bit.

It’s midterms at school. It is scheduled for midterms. I wrote midterms and am prepared to given written midterms. All the UMD faculty on this distribution list are saying “duh?. The students told me they have never taken a written midterm in an art class, except maybe art history, ever. So, I asked my department head today about it. She confirmed it. But, I am sure they will do well. I have given them a sample test. Spent two days reviewing all the information I discussed which might be one the test and will give the first of their kinds written tests at Dar Al-Hekma in art/design.

I learned more today about the issue of women driving. In order to allow women to drive, the police force must expand to include policewomen. A male cop could not give a female driver a ticket. He could pull her over, but they would have to wait for the female cop to arrive to issue the citation.

We also talked about conducting usability tests in the malls around here and some of the problems which might occur. I was overly sensitive to some and completely ignorant of others. Big surprise. If just young women were conducting this they would be swarmed by young men. I think I told you about Kiki’s field trip to the Corniche for sculpture viewing. If I didn’t let me know. So, I could see this could cause a very big problem.

The students in my typography class want me to meet them at a mall in Jeddah so we can eat – they can introduce me to more local foods.

Dec. 20, nearly a month later. Much has happened.

First, I have been quite sick. Just after Thanksgiving I thought I had a lower intestinal bug. Kinda like getting ready for a colonscopy – only it didn’t stop. So, after two days of this one of the other faculty members in the compound said she would take me to the ER. I have now experienced an emergency room in Saudi Arabia. As you all gasp, this was a wonderful experience – seriously. I was immediately attended to – they started an IV because I was dehydrated. That went in rather fast, so they gave me another one. Here, the doctors insert the IV lines. The nurses clean up the mess. Margaret said blood spurted all over the place. I was pretty limp and didn’t care. Anyway, I received an IV antibiotic and mild pain killer for the headache. Tests came back (stool sample folks) – bacterial dysentery. Ooooo. This puppy wasn’t going away.

Doctor sent me home with a pile of drugs, a diet: rice, potatoes, toast, apples, tea and water. He strongly suggested some prayer. He specified Egyptian rice – not just because he is Egyptian, he said, but because it is very high in starch. So, I missed three days of work – unheard of for me… and probably should have stayed home another day. Though it has been a couple weeks, I still am weak. I finally added peanuts and meat and some milk to my diet for the protein. One interesting note is that NO TIME during my stay did anyone ask if I was allergic to any medications. Not once. And when they started giving me the IV I was quite interested in what they were giving me, since I am allergic to so many meds.

There is some humor to this. Remember this is Saudi Arabia, so when I left my ER bed to go to the can, I had to drape my abaya over my shoulders because of the IV holder. And, Jeddah, city of 3 million people --- would you believe that a student was at the ER to visit her Dad, saw Margaret who said I was in the ER. Before I left the ER many students already knew I was very sick. You can’t get away with a thing, I tell you.

My return to school was amazing. Hordes of students greeted me with hugs and concern. They are either the best brown-nosers in the world, or one bunch of caring souls. I vote for the latter.

During my typography class one of the students reported that she had to go the ER the night before because the computer file for the project she was making for me, died without a back up. She was so upset, she couldn’t stop crying and breathing too hard. They gave her an IV, too, so we compared IV marks. They give Ivs here for nearly everything – lots of saline….

And the students are very emotional and quite expressive. It is quite a trip.

We have organized a Christmas potluck dinner at Kates for Christmas night with a gift exchange. Should be nice, but we’re really gunna be tired the next day. The school kindly gave us Christmas day off, but it is nearing the end of the semester and I am still trying to catch up from being sick, so I’m working anyway.

We are having a faculty art exhibition. This is a ridiculous thing, folks. It only last ONE DAY – with invitations that are just ready now and posters that were just printed. You must remember the mail doesn’t work here very well, so drivers take invitations to people…. The show is Christmas eve. I wonder what our director was thinking. Because of events scheduled at the college,, we have to go in on Friday (the weekend) to hang the show which will be up Saturday with the opening and closing that NIGHT from 7-10 pm. Bus back to the compound, work the next day and then do Christmas. Yawn. Am tired thinking about it. (Having worked all day Saturday, mind you…)

Probably lots has otherwise happened. I am just not on top of it.

Looks like my trip to Egypt will really happen. Thank you BJ for being so flexible. Because I am still on a visitors visa, I have to get a new one in Cairo. This presented huge logistical problems, which have been resolved. Like I said.. thanks BJ

So, Keep the faith

Watch out for contaminated water and bear this in mind: if you are constantly going to the bathroom and your bones = get that BONES ache – it could be dysentery.k

Still alive and nearly kicking,
S of a

Posted by at 1:56 PM