On to Jordan and Saudi!

Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
Trip End May 09, 2011

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Where I stayed
Chrystal Blue Hotel, Rabigh, Saudi

Flag of Saudi Arabia  , Al Madīnah,
Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Saudi job gave me less than a day to pack and head to Boston for a flight to Amman Jordan, where they said they would work on my visa. In Jordan I met up with three other teachers, one Lebanese from London, a Libyan from USA, and an Egyptian.  He recruiting company put us up in a nice hotel and paid for the food!  I ended up there for two full weeks.  Jordan is a wonderful place to spend a couple serendipitous weeks.  I returned to the Dead Sea, tried the Dead Sea mud bath.  I was able to see the Dead Sea Scrolls in a local museum along with the oldest known human statue in the world.  Amman is the home of Hercules Acropolis (better than Athens) and the Roman Amphitheater – also quite impressive and the citadel.  A day was spent at the local bazaar – always fun and plenty of local color.  We were able to do quite a bit of wandering around Amman and its outdoor walking streets and cafes.  The women in Jordan need not cover their heads and do not have to wear an abaya (the long black long-sleeve dress).  Amman is full of wonderful hotels, i.e., The Four Seasons,  Sheraton,  and amazing others.  It also has more than enough fast food American junk food – McD's, Burger King, KFC,, Pizza Hut, Fridays… too much.  We never knew when the recruiter would call and tell us to head to Saudi, so we stayed pretty close to the hotel.  There are large modern malls in Amman, too.  The Mecca Mall is the biggest.

After two weeks the call came to head to Saudi with a "temporary visa-120 days" that will need to be renewed if I decide to stay.  Amman to Jeddah, on the Red Sea.  Jeddah is “supposed” to be the place where I will teach for the year.  The recruiting agency has two buildings, one for women and the other for men.  I put my newly purchased abaya! 

Just imagine having to wait outside in 115 degree heat for 15 minutes – torture.  And these Saudi women should be given medals for all that they have to put up with!!! From special doors they must enter, to special eating places, they need to be accompanied by a man, given permission to travel until they are 30 by a man, not drive, basically do no sports, no outside hiking, no swimming,  no drinking.  Islam says that men can have more than one wife if they are able to keep them all in the same financial situation.  Therefore, the Saudi women have decided shopping is the answer – jewelry, appliances, whatever to raise the spending so there is nothing left for anybody else!!  Until we teachers find friends in the “foreign compound” we will be pretty limited in our activities too.  I keep telling myself it is just a job and will be over at the end of the school year.

So, after 3 days in Jeddah we are told we are heading to Rabbigh, a town of 120,000 2 hours to the north.  Well… it is a town, but offers no much in anything!! Even more limited in everything.  We live in the “Chrystal Blue Hotel” a new small hotel on Main Street just 2 blocks from the University.  We teachers (10 in all),  4 South Africans, 2 Americans, 2 Canadians, and 2 Pakistani/mixes).  We have a “women only” floor and are way over protected.  We have a driver for all our needs, go to Jeddah every two weeks for a break.  The University is brand new – just for women.  My class is 15 hours a week and I have 26 students – heaven compared to the 40 hours in Iraq with over 30 young students.  My students come to school in full abayas, veils and scarfs and remove them when they come to class.  At least I can recognize them this way.  They are very sweet, willing learners, beginning English speakers.  Some are driven 2 hours each way to come to class!  I am still learning the personalities and cultures they bring and sometimes share.  If a cell phone rings in class, I answer it in English and it absolutely mortifies them!  They are shy and I think will eventually become friends.

Luckily, among the teachers we have become great buddies,  – we have a shiatsu masseuse, cooks, yoga instructors, Arabic speakers/teachers, and multicultural experiences and a variety of ages!

I still apply to jobs in the US, but no one is calling, so I will remain here in Rabbigh teaching until something better comes up.  So much for the Master’s degree.

Oh, the food here is basic, chicken, rice, pizza, all the veggies and anything that can be imported.  This is not a third-world country when it comes to money.  University is free and students even receive a stipend!  Healthcare is also free to Saudis.  I think they have a non-working workforce and employ all foreigners for just about everything.  Oil is good to them.

I keep thinking of all the places I want to visit and friends I want to see on the way home and it makes more sense to keep working and get the savings built up.
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gayle Curtis on

Becky, you are one quite an adventure. Thanks for sharing. We women in the U.S. have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which being able to wear short shorts if we like when it is hot! Jim and I just came back from Las Vegas as our jumping off place to visit sites, but boy! I guess L.V., Saudi Arabia would NEVER be!!!!!! ha!

Joanne Campbell on

Becky, What an adventure, you are a brave woman. Sounds like you are making the most of the opportunties/adventure you are having. Enjoy! Joanne

wendelanne augunas on

I admire your courage and spirit of adventure. Thank you for keeping us posted on your where-abouts and goings-on. Quite a slice of a very different world. Keep the blog going....and take care of yourself.

wkatsande on

Becky I love you - you are forging ahead in the Muslim world. Well done my dear and hope one of the trips you're saving up for is Africa - the real Africa. Love you

Mindy on

Sounds like adventures abound. Hope you and yours are doing well. Ty official changed his name Friday to Tyler Daniel Dunn and is completing will complete his masters in May. I am on sabbatical and doing research. Hope you have happy holidays.

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