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."**

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Half-way there...damn me it's almost over!

I don't know why it always gets like this on vacation...first of all it takes some time to get your "home legs" (see "sea legs"). Once you've acclimated to home though, the trip almost gets worse! It's a funny thing, and a funny contradiction, I don't feel like a prisoner most of the year, in fact I really kind of like where I'm at and what I'm doing. I like where life, fate and God have taken me. I don't hate Saudi Arabia at all, I don't even dislike it...but it sure isn't the west. I must say, and I'd be lying by omission if i didn't, that I love traveling, and I love new things and my Saudi hosts really are great...but considering that you can do as you like here, pray as you like here and live as you like, going back to a restrictive country is...well...sort of counter-intuitive. My second night home I went to a 4th of July carnival, I didn't much enjoy it, but that's beside the point. In attendance at the carnival were Christians, Muslims, Hindu's and I'm sure Atheists. There might very well have been a satanist or two lurking around. American's, Brit's, African's, Indian's, Pakistani's and even a few Saudi engineering students. Nobody cared, everybody just had fun, nobody confronted the people who were together and unmarried, nobody told any of the women to cover their hair. Everybody just kinda lived and let live.

Soon after I got back I headed out to Washington state and headed about 3 hours north of Seattle, up near the Canadian border to attend some remote/austere environment medical training. I'll have more to say about that later, but the following pictures are from that week of training.

Tomorrow morning I'm headed to the "Big Easy", better in my opinion than the "Big Apple", laid back with a Caribbean feel. at this time tomorrow, I'll be knee deep in Zydeco music, seafood and fixings by the pound cooked in what some people call a "low country boil". Might even have some frozen daiquiris while I sit around listening to the friendly banter of the "who-dat" nation discussing the upcoming season. I'm having a great and well needed break, but I can't help but remember that vacation is half-over...damn! Time to get moving and get some miles under me, lots to see and do before I head back to the land of sun and fun.

Sunrise (filtered through paint shop, but only minimally so)

Sundown (filtered through paint shop)

Learning to make thermal wraps to protect patients

Deciding how to tackle the terrain

The proper way to carry a stokes basket in remote areas

I discovered this little waterfall on an early morning hike

Early morning on the lake (run through paint shop)

Suture Class (pig lab)

Learning how to deal with Acute Mountain Sickness and HAPE/HACE

Our group

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The trip so pictures!

So as I mentioned earlier, apparently you can "go home again". However, there are some facets that you need to be aware of. #1: Your friends are still your friends, but your acquaintances are gone. You weren't around to nurture those acquaintance-ships, so naturally they faded away. #2: You're on vacation, everybody else is living their life...don't expect to do much on a Monday-Thursday unless you visit people at their place of business. #3: Keep busy, and store up memories, experiences and images for your next year away. For your viewing pleasure, here are some of those images!

Rainstorm as photographed from my front porch!

Old friend of mine at the Fire Department

My old ARFF Truck, I love this monster!
My old ARFF Truck, I love this monster!



Look at all that BBQ sauce and beer! (MO' Hick BBQ, Cuba Missouri)
Love this place!

SLU campus, St. Louis MO

SLU campus, St. Louis MO

Old St. Louis Architecture

St. Louis University has a beautiful downtown campus, the city views are awesome and the architecture breathtaking. It has the distinction of being the first University West of the Mississippi River, and also the First US University with a campus in Europe.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Flights home

As we taxied to the runway my heart rate finally slowed. I'd been an anxious wreck for the past 6 hours and was beginning to drive myself nuts. Had I packed everything, had I forgotten anything, did I lock the door of my apartment, what was waiting for me at "home", now that Saudi is kinda my "home" more or less, would the plane break down like it did last year, when the hell was my salary going to be deposited, you know the normal stuff!  It seemed to take forever to get through security, waiting for the flight to board was torture, and now, after almost 11 months of working and waiting, we were finally taxiing.

The flight crew was friendly, the pilot sounded fresh and soon we were racing down the runway, 20 minutes later I was enjoying a Heineken as we made our way into the night sky. 6 hours later, we touched down in Amsterdam without incident. 2 hours later I boarded my plane for Detroit which would eventually connect me with St. Louis. My son picked me up at the airport, we got stuck in 4th of July traffic and had a long ride home, but I didn't care. Just seeing the green and smelling the clean, cool air on the way made everything OK.

Apparently, you can go home again. I'm happy to be here.

Academic Year 2013-I'm calling it

In medicine, when a person that we've been working on has died, or has failed to respond to our attempts to revive them, the person in charge makes the statement "I'm calling it", or "I'm calling the code". This signifies to the team members that all resuscitation efforts are about to be ceased, and that if they have any objections-now is the time to voice them. I myself have "called it" many times. And I'm now, officially calling the 2012-2013 academic work year. Stick a fork in it, it's done. Time of death 00:25 July 3rd, 2013.

Actually its really been done for a while, students finished on June 5th, most staff were done with all their paperwork by June 15th, (I was done June 5th) but due to the silliness of things here, nobody could leave until July 2nd...I got the closest flight I could.

It's been a good year, a tough year, a year of big change for me both academically and personally and its over. 20 months in the Kingdom, two academic contracts completed, travel to Egypt, Bahrain and Oman completed. I'm ready to be back in the States. However, a few things have changed, and one in particular that blog readers might be interested in.

Contract: Renewed...this was a source of up and down, back and forth speculation for many months. We finally settled on something that was mutually agreeable. I took a slight cut (something you should never do), and agreed to a two year term and in exchange secured a multiple exit and re-entry visa in my contract, guaranteed, in writing, within two weeks of requesting it. However, the funny part is they never sent I never signed it, so under Saudi Labor Law, the old contract my old rate of pay, and my old housing allowance. No visa comes with it, but I'm fine with the old salary and the old term. I'm also not exactly being recruited, however I am getting "looked at kindly" by a few other "better" organizations in the Kingdom...So for those of you who like to read, or follow my exploits, or just enjoy my occasional rants, looks like I'll be around a bit longer!