Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An American Thanksgiving in Saudi Arabia (aka Thursday)

Ancient History:
About a thousand years ago, the Pilgrims took a couple of yachts named the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria on a cruise to the vacation paradise of America.  They had some rough times, their motors went out and they had to use wind power to finish the journey.  Upon their arrival, they were famished (but impeccably dressed).  A couple of half naked Indians were driving by (they'd just come from the casino and literally lost their shirts).  The Pilgrims flagged them down and offered to trade their knowledge for the bucket of KFC and sides that the Indians had.  The Indians offered to split the bucket with the Pilgrims fearing that if they refused, the Pilgrims would get back on their boats and leave America the overgrown, animal species over-populated, drastically under served Continent that it was.  They ate, drank and used wet-naps.  2 bottles of Wild Turkey later  The decision was made to give to the Indians for their hospitality the Washington Redskins, while the Pilgrims would take the New England Patriots.  A short drive to wal-mart brought the High Def LCD TV and the game was on...And the rest is history!  (High School kids feel free to cut and paste)

Recent History:
OK, sorry I had to get my stupidity out of me.  It is only Thursday here but we actually went to the beautiful home of an American/Canadian family and enjoyed turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, salad, croissants, sparkling grape juice, and stimulating conversation.  Other westerners were invited and we talked with a Welsh Gentleman from the UK whose been here for over 2 decades, teachers at the International school, one from Ghana Africa by way of Alabama, USA, and the other from Guinea maybe?  Both teach English and were very nice and welcoming people.  We learned secrets of the country, getting around and getting business done, and some of the changes that have taken place over the past couple of decades, and more importantly for me over the past 7-8 years.  Apparently until the King cracked down, this place was downright bloody dangerous in 2003  It seems any comfort can be found here, you just have to be plugged into the expat network (sounds like the underground railroad, I know).  But I have no doubt that we'll be invited to Christmas dinner at one of a number of houses, and probably find our way to a decent New Years Eve party.  Definitely going to a couple of dinners at the Embassy.  Things are going well.

Interesting Stuff:
I'm here teaching Paramedics, not working as one, BUT I kind of want to...Tonight I got unofficial approval to ride 2nd seat with another Paramedic at the SRCA on a shift.  I'm being told 10-12 calls in a 12 hour shift, very possibly heavy on the trauma mass-cal side.  I'm hearing stabbing, car accident (saw 3 today alone that would have shut down any American road for hours, here we just drive by it), lots of trauma, lots of ejections, lots of head injuries...I know I'm sick, but I think it sounds awesome! We'll have to see.  Once again the best part?  I'm overseas, making money and I don't have to cross the line into war profiteering!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Iran...Fooking Iran!"

"Iran...Fooking Iran...Iran is the source of all problems in the Arab world".  Yes that's misspelled deliberately, and although it is a word seldom heard here, that's how its pronounced when it is said. (Iran is pronounced with a soft "a" also.)  I thought it interesting, after the failed assassination attempt of theirs on a Saudi official, and with them heating up their nuclear program and the UN powerless, Israel (not a favorite here) getting an itchy trigger finger, the US and UK increasing sanctions, Russia and China decrying our sanctions as unfair.  This really seems to be the general consensus here.  The KSA is friendly to the US, although some Americans disagree, and the politics do get confusing, but I am also reminded that "an enemy of my enemy is my friend".  Another reason I like it here so far.  I'm telling you guys, it's a world apart, but it ain't that different.  Just to clarify, the speaker of that phrase is not Saudi by birth, he is from a nearby country (although it echoes the sentiments of my Saudi Co-workers, bosses and friends). 

Monday, November 21, 2011

His name is Abdoullah

Prolly' spelled that wrong, who knows.  Even my students that speak great English can't spell the damn stuff.  But even though I can't spell it, I can say it!  I've learned quite a bit of the language so far, snippets here and there really, but apparently my pronunciation is good, I never get laughed at when I try, but rather get a bunch of really impressed looks...I'm not used to those, they're a little unnerving!  Back to the point though, our drivers name is Abdoullah, nice guy, who on day three has the drive mastered!  He dropped off my laundy and dry cleaning this morning, just in time too, I was ready to start recycling.  Justin and I were discussing my desperate need for a new computer, (this one was cheap 3 years ago) and Abdoullah mentioned that he knows a Dell dealer over here who will give me a good deal, sweet, i7 XPS here I come!  Think of all the non-porn site streaming I can do with that thing!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our Pakistani Driver, Saudi Students and More!

So the driver we hired...Damn!  I can't remember his name...(guess I really am an American).  Keeps taking the longest possible way to work, the guy's great and all, he works cheap (300 SAR for a 6 day week), drives better than our boss who was driving us to and from work, and he dropped off and picked up my laundry!  But he was ten minutes late today, which shouldn't have been a big deal, but with traffic in a city like Riyadh and a driver who seems to keep getting lost...I walked into my class 5 minutes late this morning, luckily for me, my students are on their week of adjustment to their new American instructor and they were 10 min late (10 min early by Saudi standards).  Tomorrow were going to try and have him pick us up even earlier so that we can make the 30 min drive in 60 min...FML 6 day work weeks @ 9 hours a day with a minimum of a 90 minute commute on top...The good news?  When we finally get to a compound with other Westerners, we'll be an additional 30 min from the DQ, were going to end up getting up at 4am to be at work by 8, what is this DC or something?

So, my students are great...when they're awake, when they're actually in class and when they're able to understand English.  I sound like I'm bitching, but I'm really not, they're great students, and very welcoming, I love working with them, problem is my higher up's want them ready NOW!  And for some stupid reason they have the utmost faith in my ability to pull off such a stunt...Great, never thought I'd bitch about an employer having faith in my abilities.  One of the biggest problems with my class (Justin's is great) is that they're last instructor kinda believed in a "self taught" approach, he came in late, left early and never assigned them any work, at least according to them, So since I was supposed to be here in September, but didn't get approved for a Visa until November, I'm now playing catch-up in a major way, a huge way, a ridiculous way.---The first day I told them that I could teach a monkey to do this job, if he would read the book at home the night before my lecture and ask me to clarify what he didn't understand.  A student on the far side of the room raised his hand and said "Sir, what book should we be reading from?"....Really?  Seriously?  Lord, just because I took a job in the land of Islam, doesn't mean I forsook you!  Alright, that's not fair, I wasn't a good Christian anywhere or ever.

It's going to be a beautiful 78 degrees tomorrow, 26 Celsius, and except that I'll be up around 5:30, a great day I'm sure.  They're getting their first quiz tomorrow, its so easy that my American students could pass the damn thing...Oh wait, I gave it to my last class of Americans and only 75% passed with only 1 perfect score...This might be ugly, oh well, nobody ever promised them a rose garden...wait correct that, yes they did and apparently I'm it...FML, I wonder if they're texting their friends tonight saying "you should see this American idiot...F our Lives!"  lmao, probably they are!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How it all began-recent history

Discontent with the state of Fire and EMS in the United States, especially the strong culture of "take it or leave it, but don't dare try and change it", I was always on the lookout for something "better".  I began looking outside of my own yard and discovered this opportunity.  The opportunity to build something from near ground up, a program designed to not only provide the Kingdom with a supply of well qualified local Paramedics, but to also help improve and push the current system of ambulance response.  I believed in the worth of the idea from the first interview and the quality of provider involved cemented my belief in the entire program soon after.  I participated in 3 skype interviews and was hired on a preliminary basis pending investigation of my background and certifications.  I began this process in June of 2011, I boarded a plane November 11th 2011  Arrived Riyadh via London on the 12th at 2359, hit the ground running and made it to work at 0800 the next morning...been going full speed ever since!

No, it really does still set in the west

So, here I am.  Beginning of the second week in Saudi, things are going great.  I've gotten fairly settled, haven't gone crazy without the family, and have found some creature comforts at the market to make me feel like I'm home.  Of course, every time things die down for a minute, I realize that I'm without Kay and Dylan and without the dogs and cats. I always kinda feel like I need to be getting home, kinda like I was sitting on a friends couch laughing and having a beer when I realized how late it had gotten...I miss my family, but at least I don't take them for granted, I know exactly what I have to come home to some day.  but right now, things are good, the sky is blue, the water is wet (although the pressure sucks) and the sun still sets in the west. All is right with the world, my world at least.