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!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
- Mark Twain

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
- Maya Angelou






Skype: "ericandjamie"



Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Break 2010

Just now posting this, but I wanted a record of what we did on our winter break for 2010.

It had been 3 years since Jamie and I had been home for Christmas and the first time since we moved overseas. We had spent the last 2 winter breaks in Thailand (Christmas day on Koh Chang island in 2008) and Southwest China and Laos (Christmas day in Dali, China in 2009).

Back in September, I found a pretty good flight home, so we jumped on the opportunity and decided to go home instead of going on another trip somewhere in Europe or the Middle East.

We had a wonderful time and really enjoyed spending the time with our families.  We apologize to any of our friends for not being able to see you.  With limited time over the break, we spent the vast majority of it with our families.

We landed safely in Atlanta and had brought back plenty of bags so we could bring some items back with us.  One of the bags was lost by the airline; and unfortunately, it was Jamie's bag with clothing in it.  I had also placed my hard drive in that bag, so I was very anxious to get it back. After a couple of nail biting days, it arrived at Jamie's parent's house intact with everything in it.

The day after landing, I went to oral surgeon to have my wisdom teeth removed.  Lucky me. The next day, we drove to down south Georgia to visit Jamie's father and had a wonderful fried fish dinner with his family.  We spent a couple of full days down there, but then drove back to north Georgia and Cartersville for the next couple of days.

On Christmas day, we spent the morning with Jamie's family in Cartersville, then drove to Tennessee to spend the week with my family.

It was during that week that we readied Griffey to be sent to Saudi Arabia (please see that blog post HERE).

Part of going home was for Jamie and I to retrieve our Settlers of Catan game.  We have been playing it on the compound with several people and have really enjoyed learning how to play.  We taught my family how to play and my dad ordered a wooden box so all of the Settlers game and expansion packs would fit in nicely.  My grandmother even wood burned the top of the box with the image of the original Settlers box cover.  Looks great!

On December 30, me and my parents and Jamie and her parents drove to Nashville, TN so dad and I could go to Music City Bowl (Tennessee vs. North Carolina).  The game was a blast and the 1st game I had been able to see in 3 seasons.  We then drove to Memphis so Jamie and her parents could go watch the Liberty Bowl between Georgia and Central Florida.  They had a good time there, and my parents and I stayed on Beale Street to watch the game and listen to some good old blues music at a great little Irish pub.

New Year's Day unfortunately was spent driving back to Georgia after swinging by Calhoun to pick up Griffey.  The next couple of days were a blur as we were busy packing and shopping for some needed supplies.

Overall, a great trip home for the holidays. Our original goal was to go home every other year, but the cost of a 2 plane tickets home is quite pricey.  Not sure what will happen next year (perhaps Germany), but we certainly did enjoy our trip home for the holidays in 2010.  I'll get some pictures posted later...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Getting Griffey into the Kingdom

Getting Griffey into Saudi Arabia took the customs official here about 15 seconds to look at the paperwork.  That was the easy part.  The hard part came the previous 12 days.  So, how do you get a dog into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the United States in 12 days?  Here is how I did it...

I first had to obtain an import permit from the Saudi end of things allowing Griffey into the country.  To do this, I went to a local vet here, who I paid to get this permit for me.  I'm not sure it can even be done without the services of a vet. 

Secondly, I had to get my school government relations department to write a letter stating that it was OK for the vet to pick up the import permit for me.  This had to be done on the school letterhead and signed by the head of the GR department.  I also had to sign the letter.  

Third, Griffey went to the vet to get a clean bill of health and obtain a vaccination record as well as a international health certificate.  I also needed a regular health certificate to send back to the vet in Saudi Arabia so he could finalize the health certificate.  The vet also ended up writing a "Guard Dog Letter" stating that he was in fact used for personal protection purposes.  This is funny for anyone who has ever met Griffey. Saudi Arabia will only allow certain dogs into the country, and even then they have to be for guard dog, hunting, or seeing eye purposes.

Fourth, after obtaining the international health certificate, it needs to be signed and stamped by the following agencies: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States State Department, and finally the Saudi Arabian consulate in Washington DC. 

Here is the hard part.  Airlines only honor an international health certificate for 10 days while countries and other agencies will honor it for 30.  If you can get it stamped by all those agencies in 10 days before your flight date, you are good to go.  Unfortunately, Tennessee does not have all of those agencies in their backyard, so it took me getting creative on how to get them all signed within 10 days.  

The USDA stamp can be done in 3 business days counting mailing it up to Nashville and back.  The US State Department takes up to 15 business days while the Saudi consulate... well, that is a whole other story as the "sometimes close down for someone's birthday" as was told to me.

Here is how I did it.  Dad and I drove to Nashville on the same day when Griffey went to the vet and got his international health certificate by the vet.  We took it to the USDA and got it stamped and FedEx it overnight to the Shady Springs Animal Kennel in Baltimore, Maryland, where we had paid a guy to serve as a courier for us.  The next 3 days, he took it to the State Department and the Saudi consulate and had it mailed back to me overnight.  

It all came back on the morning of our flight in time.  Griffey was then checked into live cargo on our plane and rode the whole way.  I next saw him on the side of the baggage claim in the Dammam airport nearly 17 hours later.  

If you want the costs for such a process, I can get it for you.  I can also give you the names and numbers and addresses of the specific people who helped me out.  It did cost considerably less than getting him in and out of China, so that is a plus.  

Griffey is safe and sound here and enjoying the compound life.  

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