the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. . .i arrived safely and with any problems 3 days ago. the flights were long and so were the layovers. i had to leave jen at the airport in tears and i was feeling pretty horrible about it, but i held it together pretty well with two exceptions one was during the layover at dullas airport in D.C. and the other the first night. which i think worked to my advantage because the guy that lives underneath me, Vic, a 50-ish year old gentleman from VA in the states, came up to introduce himself and invited me to the grocery store. i was dying of hunger. i would guess i've already lost 5 - 10 lbs due to 2 days of intestinal distress. i seem to be doing better as of yesterday. i spent the majority of the weekend sleeping and watching television.
my initial reaction to this place is i'm both surprised how similar it is and how different it is. i know this doesn't make alot of sense but i'll try to explain. it's not nearly as conservative has i expected. it's not completely unlike living in the states, the grocery store was like going to wal-mart or target. the woman thing is blown way out of proportion most western women do not cover their heads, most non-Saudi Islamic women do not cover their faces, and only saudi women do the whole deal. no women can drive or work. most men wear whatever they want, except shorts (although i've seen shorts on the compound). . .and there are the guys the that wear the traditional red and white "towels" with black tied ropes, but i haven't worked exactly what whose those guys are about. . .but some of them work with me. everything is supposedly a deal. . .even the guy who scanned my groceries gave me a pack of gum because i was friendly. driving here is ridiculous. . .i've never been anywhere where driving has been so crazy. . .and i'm serious. . .people LITERALLY do not pay attention to lanes, turn left from right hand lanes in front of people not turning, run stop lights, and there are major intersections (i.e. two 4 lane roads intersecting) with no lights, no signs no directions. . .just people trying not to hit other people. i can't wait to get my license. . .which i will. . .and a company car.
it's really safe here. . .i don't know what everyone was so worried about. there has been only one moment which really made me nervous. . .i arrived here wednesday at about 8pm. . .and a driver from the company came and picked me up. he drove me to the compound which first of allis is currently behind some construction, so the dude just pulls off the road into a construction area which was scary enough. . .then we came to a gate with some twenty somethings holding AK-47s. . .we don't have a permit to get into the compound, because i'm new, and they start yelling in arabic and asking us to pull off the drive way. . .then the driver opens his door to get out and explain who i am, and i'm thinking. . .omg. . .just stay in the car. . .they eventually waved us through. . .which has now happened three times. . . once then, once this morning when i was trying to get into work and at the airport. . . i never have the right permit. . .and i always get pulled aside. . .until they just wave me through. . .for no reason. . .it's not like i suddenly have the right permit. . .it's not like someone ever explains who i am or what i'm doing. . .they just give me a hard time for a minute. . .then. . .let me go.
the weather has been amazing. it's in the 70's with blue skies. i guess summer is when it gets hot. . .really hot.
the internet situation. . .is CRAPPY! it's basically. . .uh. . .no where, and where it is. . .it's slow as snot. i had all these visions of webcam chats, voice over ip, video blogs. . .LOTS of communication. i'm downloading a 5.5 MB file now. . .it's taking 30 minutes. . .that's slow. . .like 1995 slow. hopefully i can get something faster in my villa. . .but only time will tell.
that's all i'm going to say for now. . .i'm sure there will be more to tell.