Saturday, August 21, 2010

First Impressions

I have been in country nearly 3 weeks now and let me tell you, its been quite the experience so far. I am still processing into the system here and am waiting for some paper work to clear before I can start work so I have a lot of down time.

Trash: There is no recycling and you simply throw your garbage on the street in many areas. The city has a team of East Indians who patrol around in green jump suites with garbage cans.

Class System: Is very much alive and as a white American male I am almost on top. I have been ushered to the front of several waiting lines.

Women: Have to be pretty much completely covered up and there is no interacting with them in public really. They also are not allowed to drive here.

Co-workers: The guys I have met so far have all been cool. I am meeting people from all over the world including, Australia, South Africa, England, Saudi, Egypt, and more.

Driving: Everyday we leave the hotel we place our lives in the hands of drivers who make demolition derby look like a safe driving course. Here are a few examples of what I have witnessed so far off duty around town. Cars stopping in the middle of a 4 lane 1 way street then reversing against traffic over 40 MPH for several city blocks because they missed a turn or exit. Motorcycles driving on sidewalks, cars doing doughnuts in the middle of busy 4 way intersections, cars drifting in and out of traffic at speeds over 100MPH, several car accidents outside our hotel and down the street. Today our emergency support vehicle was rear ended in front of me by a driver at night with no head lights. Everyday 18 people die in this city from car accidents. I asked my taxi driver the other day if he had ever hit a pedestrian and he said yes, 4 over the years which included 1 death. Saudi Arabia is #1 in the world for car crashes and vehicle related deaths, and I can see why. When I do start working it will be a very dangerous job responding to emergency's.

People: Everyone has been nothing but nice so far. What little exposure I have had in country has been positive. All the locals are have been very friendly to me so far, many are happy and excited to see an american. Most speak only a little English, some speak none. I have already picked up several words in Arabic and plan on buying a book so I can communicate a little better with everyone. When you get a crowd together usually someone can speak English, but certainly not everyone. Many of the Saudi Locals wear the traditional thobe and checkered headgear, others dress more western. However there are still strict dress codes enforced in public. I cant wear any of my sleeveless shirts or really tight stretch jeans. I guess Ill invest in some Fred Perry's and braces.... 

Food: Still getting use to this part. We have been eating a lot at american restaurants like Apple Bee's, Tony Romas, The outback, TGIF, ect. There is no kitchen in our hotel and its difficult to eat healthy but I am doing my best. The breakfast buffet the hotel gives us is pretty good. We get outside food delivered for lunch and dinner, but often its very bad for you and poor quality. They are working on fixing this for us. The local food is not so bad and consist of  humus, kabobs, lamb, strange paste like things, and Shawarma. We have Safeway here so I invested in some weaties and fruit the other day which should help. I also have access to a personal trainer and gym which I plan on utilizing soon. The personal trainer is from the Serbian military and is a professional body builder. He does not speak a word of English, but he is very good at showing you what to do and helping you with fitness goals, so long as your good at charades or have a translator handy.

Well thats all for now I hope all my paper work clears soon so I can start working. I miss all of you back in Portland! 

1 comment:

  1. Mikey!
    Do you have an address over there I can write to you at? It sounds like a grand adventure for sure. I like that your blog posts the temperature. it's 106 there right now & 54 here... I'm envious!