Thursday, January 15, 2015

We're now ex-pats...

T+3 days.

Well, we did it.  We moved to Doha.

Monday, we finished a last load of laundry, cleaned the last few things in the house, and loaded up our luggage.  My parents took us to the airport, and hugging them goodbye was the closest I've come to calling this all off and backing out.  That was HARD on all of us, and I am not ashamed to say I cried.  A lot.  All thru check-in and security I sniffled, and when I saw them drive off I almost lost my shit.  Thankfully, the counter agent and the TSA people were very kind and understanding- yet again, let me say I love our little airport in College Station.  They even took special care of Big Dog, my stuffed pooch I've had since my first birthday and who has travelled everywhere with me.  Quick puddle-jump to Houston, then about two hours to kill before boarding for Frankfurt, Germany.  I'd told my sister the night previous that I'd call her before we boarded, but I was such a mess that I couldn't face it. So we texted goodbyes.  Still teary, boarded and got settled.  Then Thomas handed me my letter from Binnie, who'd told me to read it on the plane.  I cheated a bit, we were technically ON the plane.  More tears, but thankfully the boarding door was still open so I could text her too.  And then, Mom and Dad and a couple more friends cause why the hell not?  Couldn't cry any harder at that point.  Poor Thomas, he was stuck with me and he couldn't do anything to fix it- but he held me and promised he'd get wifi working as soon as possible so we could talk to our people.

I stopped crying finally, just in time to have a drink.  Yes, please to Scotch on the rocks (Glenfiddich! On the plane!  Never flying anything but Lufhansa ever again!)  After dinner service, I managed to curl up with Big Dog and sleep some.  Emotionally wrenching day.  Landed in Frankfurt, thru security again, to the lounge to wait some more.  Mostly not crying, but very tired.  Then finally on the last flight, to Doha.  Several more airline employees smiled  and commented on Big Dog.   Yes, I was a 37-year-old woman clutching a stuffed dog, WHAT?  Anyway, more drinks, more sleep, touchdown in Doha.

I don't mind saying that I was a little scared of passport  control, that something might be wrong with our papers... and maybe secretly hoping that something might be wrong and we'd have to turn around and go home.  Good news/bad news, nothing was wrong.  She didn't even look at our visas, just stamped the passports and waved us on to baggage claim.  Found our luggage, cleared customs (I always get nervous, even though I have no reason to be...) and found the driver and guide waiting for us.  They delivered us to our apartment tower, but our door key wouldn't work so we had to get the security guard to open it with the master key.  At this point, it was 11:00 and we'd been travelling for over 24 hours, so we were slightly pooped.  We explored the new digs, found our room, found the shower, and hit the bed.  Cried myself to sleep, but that was partly from sheer exhaustion.

So now we're here.  True to his word, Thomas DID go down first thing yesterday and get the wifi working, so I could at least chat with family and friends and let him know we'd made it safely. That was a good start to the day, then we had an "orientation to the city" tour.  It was a nice tour, but two hours in the back seat in stop and go traffic was not the best thing, first thing... slightly nauseated, I was glad to get out of the car when it was
over.  We hit a wall really hard after that, and a short nap turned into almost five hours...oops.  We are a block from the largest mall in Doha, and it contains a large SuperWalMart type store with everything so we walked over there to grab a few necessities and food for dinner.  We ran into some Aggies that also live in our building on our way back in, and they were very welcoming and kind.

After dinner, I was Facebook chatting with my Binnie and my Murdock, and that made my day.  Just being able to communicate with them was really awesome, and really lifted my spirits.  Then a chat with Mom turned into a "test" Skype session, and another with Daddy.  To see them and hear them really really helped and I went to bed much happier and feeling much better.  My sister woke me up with a Skype call this morning, and Macey called shortly after that... so the day started very well too. It's slowly getting better, and I am beginning to remember why we did this in the first place- for the challenge and the adventure, for the new experience.  Leaving the family and the old life was the hardest thing I have ever done, by far... but as we all know, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

I should be a freaking bodybuilder by the time we get thru this!  I know I can do this, I know I WANT to do this, but I am scared to do this at the same time.  Lots of things going thru my head and my heart, but so far today I have not cried!  Almost when I talked to my sister and Macey this morning, but I managed to keep it together.  And we haven't even talked about the dogs... I miss my furbabies so badly.  I brought a photo, but I couldn't bring myself to look at it until late last night, and of course, tears.  It's been weird the last two nights going to sleep without hearing them making their doggy sleep noises... Pudge's snores, Casey's dream running... but their new person says they are doing well, and even slept on the bed with her and her dog.  So that's good.

We have a couple more days before we start work on Sunday, so we have a trip to Ikea planned (we have got to get a mattress topper STAT.  Bed is a bit harder than I like...) and a few things like towel hooks for the bathroom, dish towels, small things we need.  Our shipment with the rest of our stuff should be here sometime next week, by their estimation, but could be longer depending on how long it takes to clear customs.  Right now, as nice as our apartment is, I am feeling like I'm in a hotel.  Once our stuff gets here, and we can personalize it a bit, I think we will start to feel like it's really home and not just a temporary place to stay.  We do have stunning views of the city, and the water between the buildings is really pretty.  So we got that going for us, which is nice.

So, TL;DR: we made it, we are settling in, I'm a bit homesick but muddling thru, and Ikea awaits.

OH! Yeah, also found the Mexican food section in the supermarket- small, but it exists!  Another thing that makes me happy.  And Vlasic pickles too.  Little things...

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