After a 12 day delay, 36 hours on 3 separate flights, 4 hours on a bus ride through customs with a dozen illiterate Nepalese construction workers, an hour haggling with unlicensed cabbies in a back alley in the city center of Al Khobar at 2 in the morning, and a ‘cab’ ride that resulted in an unnecessarily prolonged silent tour of the sights and sounds of the main roads of the tri-city area at dawn, I have finally made it to the Kingdom.
Driving across King Fhad Causeway from the airport in Bahrain to the city center of Khobar gave us a look into some different aspects of life here in Saudi Arabia, however, it was the middle of the night on Saturday (the equivalent of Monday in the rest of the world) and some of what we saw most likely isn’t the norm for everyday life. Driving is exactly what everyone warned about; a competition to go the fastest, drive the most aggressively, and have complete disregard for anything around you, including the police (who didn’t seem to care all that much about anything that was going on either). Customs was interesting in that every single person who worked there (all Saudis and all men) couldn’t possibly have cared any less about their job than they already do. For every one person actually accomplishing a task there were two others having a cigarette and talking on their cell phones while simultaneously carrying out a brash conversation with the on-task individual, ensuring nobody had a quick or efficient time of anything. They highlighted the generally accepted notion of most of the expats we’ve talked to have, which is that Saudi men have a universal code of “I don’t give a shit” in regards to pretty much anything in life, including life itself. So far this has held true for everyone we’ve met, and it’s can almost be overwhelming how indifferent some people are to the world around them. Also, everyone is pretty overtly racist (not to mention sexist but that’s an entirely different conversation) and they are not ashamed to treat the darker skinned foreigners like dirt, or worse.
It’s a different world here.
Due to our early morning arrival, and the subsequent phone calls to a very surprised and angry boss, we were given the day off to acclimate and arrange everything for our first day at school tomorrow. In the coming days I’ll post pictures of my compound and a few of the other things I’ve seen so far.