We have moved into our new home in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, the village which now houses the large graduate university known as KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology). It is a brand new house, so new, in fact, that it is not complete. Yes, the walls and floors are done. The furniture is here, though some pieces seemed to be put in so quickly that they are actually broken. We have plumbing, though it took David awhile to figure out that the reason we had no hot water was that we actually had to push a button to get it started. There remains work to do nonetheless. We have a list of things that are supposed to be completed by work teams when we call the "help desk." So far, other than pest control arriving to set up rat traps, we have not had a lot of the finishing work done yet. Several days ago I did stay home from work (since school has not started) to wait for the pest control guys to show up with their traps. Just as they were finishing, the maintenance team arrived to actually patch the many holes in cupboar
ds and behind appliances which could allow rats easy entrance. While the men were patching holes, another team of eight men - yes eight - arrived to perform a final cleaning of our house. They mopped, dusted, folded some towels inadvertently left out, washed down our balconies, scrubbed bathrooms, washed some walls, and cleaned the dust out of the closets. They did such a good job that I tipped the whole group by giving money to the supervisor and asking him to share it around. As they were leaving, the plumber showed up to fix the leaky sinks and dishwasher. He tried really hard to accomplish the job, and did succeed in some problems, but he didn't have the right parts to complete the dishwasher sleeve for the hose. No worries. Because all of the food in the restaurants and cafeteria is free, we have not really been cooking much yet. This will change some time, but no one seems to know when we will have to pay. (When asked, a cafeteria worker said to me, "Tomorrow, maybe, or in December.") In the end, we ended up with only one rat trapped in a cage - so far, though I just discovered 'evidence' of another one! We are still waiting for shower rods, bathroom lights to be installed, a TV remote (you cannot use the TV at all without it), another large hole to be fixed, and the landscaping to be completed. Still, we don't have to commute from Jeddah, I don't have to wear an abaya, our kids can ride bikes and play outside, and our schools are 10 minutes by walking from our house! A lot to be grateful for in any case.
Our schools are in a similar state, but further along. We expect students to start on Saturday, and I think everyone is very excited to have kids in the building. After all, that's why we are here really. At the end of our work day today, all the teachers and administrators gathered in a circle to share thoughts about school starting on Saturday. It was powerful because people are committed and excited, despite the challenges of starting up a school which is still being completed. Unfortunately, the entire math and science departments (including David) left for Dubai and a training opportunity tonight, so school will start on Saturday without those teachers! We actually had some laughs in the group about that. After awhile, you just have to be able to laugh about the crazy and silly and frustrating things that happen.
We have gradually been unpacking our shipments from Seattle. It takes time to figure out where things should go, though we did not bring everything we own as many people had to. So far all looks well, except that the guy who packed up our bicycles didn't know anything about bikes, and he actually damaged Hayden's brand new bike by incorrectly (and unnecessarily) disassembling the rear derailleur. We found the only bike shop in Jeddah, called Wheels, and the mechanic there was able to fix the bike, though it's not as strong as it was. It was some tough moments for Hayden, who has been asking for his bike for weeks, but he has recovered and has been riding all around! Off to do more laundry. We seem to have a lot this weekend.
Thanks for reading. Jennifer