Saturday, July 30, 2011

Too Hot to Trot

That's our compound behind the yellow building.
It's hot here: 41°C (106°F) right now. We live in a compound called Education City Community Housing Lot 2. Right across the street from us there is a Recreation Center, which has a pool, a gym, a sauna, squash and tennis courts, a game room and a restaurant. Aside from the restaurant, we have free reign on everything else. There is a Lulu Express on the corner that sells groceries, and additional little shops that sell electronics, toys, coffee and baked goods. There is also a bank, a center for beauty products (restricted to women only) and a medical/dental clinic. Its placement is quite handy. We really haven't had a chance to explore Qatar, yet, beyond these places, but we're planning to adventure out on our own after dark tonight to explore Souk Waqif, a traditional Qatar market.

As we are still without a car, one of my colleagues was going to pick us up at 1PM yesterday and take us to the Villaggio Shopping Mall. Anyhow, at 9AM, we thought we might try to walk to the other grocery store before it got super hot. We were hoping that the supermarket might have a better selection and better prices for produce. There was no one else out walking around. Even though the distance was only one kilometer (about two-thirds of a mile), we never reached our destination. A nice man in what appeared to be traditional Qatari dress stopped to offer us a lift in his Land Cruiser, which I declined, and a few other cars slowed down to see if we needed any help. It was just too dang hot, and we could see the life running out of Vito, which also worried us a little, so we turned around and went back home.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Qatar Rhymes with Butter?

After returning from a last gasp trip to Reno to visit my parents before moving to Qatar, our computer crashed last Sunday evening. We thought we had lost everything, but, even after telling us that they would not be able to recover our data, the miracle people at the Apple Genius Bar at the Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara restored everything important. Anyhow, we learned that we can't underestimate the importance of a good backup.

In the midst of the computer uncertainty, we packed and moved our belongings into a storage unit in Vacaville on Thursday, getting the computer back on Wednesday evening just before our move. My parents met us in Vacaville and helped put everything in storage, otherwise, we wouldn't have finished in time to return the moving truck. After packing everything in our unit, we drove to Sacramento and spent the night there with friends.

With nothing specific on our agenda for Friday, one day before departing, we got up early and went to the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento. After that, we drove back to Vacaville to spend our last night in the states with my grandmother Ruth.

We woke up on Saturday morning, showered and breakfasted, put our luggage in the rental car, and drove to San Francisco International Airport. Despite the various hiccups during the week, everything had been miraculously working out until we tried to get our boarding passes. For some reason, Angela didn't receive a boarding pass, and we had to wait to see a United attendant. This is not a recommendation. After some dangling unattended in the self-check-in queue and huffing and puffing, we learned that we had to wait in another line to resolve our problem. In the meanwhile, our flight was getting closer and closer to its departure time. With 30 minutes to go, we were still waiting in line, and Angela, unhappily, suggested that Vito and I leave without her. As I was flying to Qatar to meet my future employer, we thought that it wouldn't look good if we all missed the flight. So Vito and I left without Angela!

We hustled through the security check and headed for the gate to catch our flight. At the gate, I asked if they could hold the plane for Angela, but the attendant informed me that we were going to leave on time. Vito and I boarded. Almost as soon as we were seated, the plane began to move. Vito's head snapped and he said, "Where's mommy? We're leaving our mommy!" Up until then, I had been cool, but hearing those words brought a tear to my eye, and I did my best to explain what was happening. And so we departed, heading to Qatar via a five-hour flight to Washington, D.C., where I hoped to get more information about what was happening to Angela.

Everything went smoothly in Washington. I called Angela and learned that she had arranged to depart on the same flight the next day. I was relieved, but we still had an almost thirteen-hour flight ahead of us, which would surely challenge my fatherly prowess. Vito, fortunately, slept almost the entire flight, and we landed without further incident.

We arrived on Saturday and were promptly taken to our apartment where, after receiving some instructions from the colleague who brought us to the apartment, Vito and I went to sleep. The next day, we went back to the airport and gathered Angela, and our happy family was reunited.