|From Jamie's Philippines Pics|
We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.
We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.
Thanks for checking us out!
- Mark Twain
- Maya Angelou
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Welcome to the Kingdom!
Jamie and I finalized our packing today and crammed everything into 13 bags. My parents drove down; and along with Jamie’s parents, we headed down the airport. We had hoped for a discount on our excess baggage, but we didn’t receive it. That took some time as we had to wait for supervisors, but we finally checked out bags and only had 2 overweight. The cost was more than what I had wanted, but we had budgeted correctly for it. Our school provides a shipping allowance anyway, so it is all good.
We had dinner at Houlihans before saying our difficult goodbyes to our family. Our KLM flight took us through Amsterdam where we had a 2 hour layover. There, we actually met some families with whom we will be working. The Schiphol airport in Amsterdam is different because you actually go through security at the gate. That and all of the women are much taller.
Our two flights were good and we arrived at 9:00 pm in Saudi Arabia. Customs was a breeze and we worried about all of our stuff for no reason. We did have 1 bag that didn’t make, but hopefully we’ll receive it in a few days.
We were met by our superintendent, high school principal, middle school principal, and others as they helped us load our bags into a bus before we loaded onto another bus. The drive to our compound was about 45 minutes and we were showed some of the sites around the area despite it being dark. Al Khobar, the name of the city in which we will live, is actually very modern with many western restaurants and stores. More on this I’m sure in later blog posts.
Today is the first day of Ramadan, the holiest holiday for Islam. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and it is actually illegal for anyone to be caught eating or drinking in public. Most stores do not open until after sunset, so the whole country somewhat shuts down. Jamie was wearing long sleeves and pants when she arrived, but will purchase an abaya in a few days.
We arrived at our compound and were pleasantly surprised at the surroundings. We enter through a large electronic gate, but the inside of the compound looks somewhat like a nice retirement community you might see in Florida. The huge difference is that our gate is guarded by Saudi National Guard reserves with machine guns ready at a moment’s notice as well as a large concrete wall with barbed wire surrounding the compound. Makes me feel safe. I don’t want this to sound bad, because the villas are VERY nice.
On our compound, we have a pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, a recreational center with ping pong, pool, foosball, air hockey, a small library, a TV room, and a nice little gym.
Our villa is 3 stories, but Jamie and I will occupy the 2nd and 3rd stories as well as the rooftop. There is a single female that lives in the 1st floor. Please see the VIDEO of our villa tour for detailed information as I believe it will be better than me typing everything out.
Our school provides all of this as part of our package; so needless to say, we were shocked at the size of the place as well as what was furnished for us. We didn’t really unpack this night, but were visited by several families offering help over the next few days. I will speak more of this tomorrow, but I hope this first blog post lets you know of our tiring yet exciting first evening in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.