On to Jordan and Saudi!
Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
68Trip End May 09, 2011
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Where I stayed
Chrystal Blue Hotel, Rabigh, Saudi
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!
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.