As nearly anyone who knows us or who reads this blog knows, we have left KAUST and Saudi Arabia for a new life in Stuttgart, Germany. A professional team arrived at our KAUST house on June 8, carefully and meticulously packed our belongings, weighed our boxes to ensure that we did not go overweight, and loaded 31 boxes onto a truck. Nearly five months later, our boxes finally arrived at our new apartment in the Plieningen village of Stuttgart. I am guessing that our boxes sat awhile, then sat longer throughout all of Ramadan and the subsequent Eid holiday, and then were ultimately rediscovered once people reemerged into their offices during daytime hours. The team assisting us in tracking, managing, and delivering the boxes - a Filipino gentleman in Jeddah and a German woman in Munich - pulled together and successfully got everything to us in excellent condition - on October 31. Happy Halloween!
We cleared ourselves satisfactorily from all KAUST departments - housing, banking, schools, technology, transportation, IDs ... - after about 6 weeks and approximately 20 signatures and received our ticket and taxi confirmation, as well as our exit visas a few days prior to our departure. We enjoyed laughs in our sparse house of few dishes or utensils with many friends before we all left for summer. The day we left we called our friends at the recreation center, and they came to claim virtually all items that we had been unable or unwilling to part with until that final morning. As we left KAUST for the last time, I think we all felt that it had been an amazing four years and that we would dearly miss so many friends! We were not sorry to fly away from the Jeddah airport for the final time, however.
We flew to Colorado to have a family and friend reunion and then we flew to Seattle where, once again, we began the onerous and important process of clearing out belongings from our attic, packing another 31 boxes for shipping, and shuttling myriad items to Goodwill and other recycling institutions throughout our end of the city. We had planned a huge garage sale on a Sunday afternoon; unfortunately we had lost sight of garage sale culture in Seattle where most people peruse others' secondhand items on Saturday mornings. We sold about two things, including my old road bike, and then we started donating toys, books, clothes, and furniture to other places where they could find new homes. Hayden and I helped the Large Packing Guy load our boxes on a truck, from which they would be handled and moved several times on their journey to a faraway destination. When those boxes arrived in Stuttgart ten weeks later, they clearly had suffered many throws and tosses from those responsible - they were generally smashed, some were partially split, and one box with our dining room table was missing all together. Nonetheless, few items were broken, remarkably, due in part to my friend Gwen's assistance in carefully packing up everything.
While in Seattle, we enjoyed walks and swims around Greenlake, visits with many friends - some who came to see us and some who were local - and we reconnected with our neighbors. A close friend and his children joined us for a three-day backpacking trip to Spectacle Lake, where we have wanted to take Hayden and Logan for a long time. Though it was arduous and challenging, we all made it safely there and back, despite the fact that I didn't pack quite enough food. Hmmm. Sorry, Britt! When it was time to leave Seattle, I think we all felt rather sad, pondering why were not simply staying there.
We flew to Michigan to visit David's family and several friends who visited, and we took Hayden to Interlochen Arts Camp for his third summer as a camper there. We returned to Colorado for final activities with friends and family, final shopping, and final preparations for our next journey.
David, Logan, and I arrived in Stuttgart, Germany, to begin a new chapter of our family's journey. We have been here for more than three months already, and though the transition has taken time and has been, at some moments, stressful, I think we have mostly made it and are very much enjoying the many cultural opportunities here. While KAUST weekends sometimes felt dull and empty, weekends here are full with more festivals, museums, and activities than we can actually accomplish. So far we are thrilled we our new lives, which I will begin to describe in a new blog. Please check it out when/if you have time. New blog address will be posted here shortly. Thanks for reading! Goodbye.
Jennifer and the boys