Saturday, February 14, 2015

Weekend Update (apologies, SNL)

T+1 month.
Yesterday was our official one-month anniversary here!  It feels like we have been here much longer, and yet at the same time it feels like we just got here yesterday.  Friday the 13th is a pretty auspicious day for an anniversary, don't ya think?

To celebrate, we got out of the city!  We decided to do a little "out of town" exploring, so we went west.  More specifically, to Dukhan, on the west coast of the Qatar peninsula.  Dukhan is a very small town, not much there besides a McDonald's, the Cuban Hospital, and massive production facilities for Qatar Petroleum.  It's about 90 kilometers from Doha, and there generally isn't much traffic on Friday mornings, so I bit the bullet and drove.  Super windy, and very dusty, but overall not too bad.  The water is crystal clear, and wasn't very deep where we were, so we went wading for a while... the water was really cold, but our feet went numb after a couple of minutes so it was all good.  That's what we get for going to the beach in February!  The beach was deserted- no one around for miles.  Literally.  No one but us and the critters in the water.  It really was gorgeous and I am looking forward to going back when it's warmer.

From Dukhan, we went to the even smaller hamlet of Umm Bab- not even a McDonald's there, just a turnoff for the cement plant.  Not another car on the road, and there was even a spot where sand had blown completely across it.  We found the beach, and the lovely cluster of palm trees that give it it's name (Palm Tree Beach)... and another oil production facility.  This beach area wasn't quite as nice, so we waded a bit, took a few pictures, and headed back.

We took an alternate route back to Doha, a smaller road across the peninsula and the desert that, actually, reminded me a LOT of West Texas.  Flat, dry, you can see for miles, and oil production equipment here and there.  But you generally don't see this sign off of I-20:

Yep, that's a camel crossing sign.  We saw several (signs, not camels) on the way back, rather like the deer crossing signs you see in the US.  There was actually quite a bit of flora to see along the way- most people think of the desert as vast and sandy and nothing living, but it's actually rocky and there are lots of trees and small plants and native grasses that manage to eke out survival here.  Quite pretty when the sand isn't blowing all over.  Our small car was buffeted quite a bit by the wind, and I had to fight to stay in my lane a few times.  (We've been given a Nissan Sunny, the international version of the Sentra) as a loaner car til we get one of our own.  It's decently zippy.)

Let's see, what else?  We received our RPs, our Residency Permits, on Wednesday this week.  We are now legal residents of the State of Qatar!  We also got our passports back- phew, relief.  It was a bit worrying to have to give them up for an extended period, but they did get returned. I'm somebody again!  Now for the drivers license, which I hope to get soon.  We also got our "liquor letter" from our employer; this allows us to go get a license to purchase adult beverages (and pork!) at the one liquor store in the whole country.  We plan to put it to the test tomorrow!  We've been ordering stuff from Amazon in the last few weeks, and it's all arriving... so now I have Ro-Tel and Velveeta and Bisquick in my pantry, I have a sponge with a handle on it for dishes (apparently not a thing here, can't find one anywhere!) and a crockpot is on it's way.  Just about got everything I need for a fully-functioning kitchen!

Work is good, I have begun to see students on my own and each appointment is a little better than the last.  Picking up the degree plans (I have good cheat sheets!) and the prerequisites and learning more each day... the students are really great.  They are unfailingly polite, and have all asked how I am liking Qatar, the campus, the job, and they are really curious to see how it compares with the College Station campus.  Some of them are surprised when they notice my Ring to see that I am an Aggie too. I've added some plants and my photos to my office, and the handyperson will be by to hang my diploma sometime soon.  (All our walls are concrete and have to have holes drilled with masonry bits, otherwise I'd have done it myself.)  I have a nice window that overlooks a courtyard with a pretty little pond and palm trees.   Speaking of which, it's a school night!  So I must say goodnight for now... type at you again soon!


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