Big things out of the way today – in no particular order:
My winter coat, not worn since I left Chicago 4 years ago, is at the Dry Cleaners. I did my best job getting all the white cat hair off it. It hangs to my ankles and even has a hood – might double as an abaya if it were baggier! They looked a little doubtful when I asked if they could dry clean my winter Salwar Kameez – which I also haven’t worn since Chicago. Wearing silk longjohns under them cuts down on the need for cleaning but I think I will take the embroidered (but not blinged) SKs over and let them give it a go – at $11 plus each…hmmmm…I DO have a gentle setting on both washer and dryer…
Ordered Saudi Riyals from the bank – I got over a thousand for my $299 and change. I am told the exchange rate is held at 3.75 riyals to the dollar within the Kingdom and not to change too much money here…which I didn’t. The guys at the recruitment company who actually hired me on behalf of the university floated the notion yesterday that, as my plane arrives at 6:15 AM, I might have to take a taxi by myself from the airport to my hotel, so I figured I’d best have some riyals in my purse. Notwithstanding that 1) the Saudi Embassy web site says unaccompanied women are not to leave the airport without their sponsor representative 2) I don’t speak the language 3) I am a woman 4) I will be in a totally strange city 5) the helpful phone numbers kindly provided presume a) I will have a cell phone that works in Saudi or b) I will know how to work the local phone system. There is an implicit assumption that the world will work exactly the same for one tired and bewildered western woman with no abaya and no hijab as it does for 6 male locals.
I was in a right panic by the time I got to Skype with the Dean. He gave me his usual, comforting “NEEEEEDn’t worry about that…” and he found a google site for the hotel with the address and a map. The hotel name wasn’t spelled at all like the one in the email – but same hotel. He suggested that I print out the map and write the hotel address on it, and then, if I have to, contract a taxi from one the stands within the airport rather than going out to the curb. All I will have to do is show them the map and say “Take me to this hotel, please” – which I can even manage to say in Arabic! Panic immediately subsided and my “travel in a strange land” scripts kicked in – I’m fine as long as I have addresses and maps!
I did discover the hotel is a couple of blocks from a McDonalds – how American is THAT! I am only there over Wednesday, Dec 15th night as I fly to Buraydah on Thursday evening where I KNOW there will be someone to meet me!
I went through my coin collection and found that I have 33 pounds and change to spend during my 7 hour layover at Heathrow. At least the shopping there is interesting.
My durable power of attorney is now notarized so that one of my daughters can handle any financial affairs that may come up while I am gone.
Now, while I edit book chapters for Badrul, I will sit on interminable hold while I try to arrange for utilities to be turned off, my phone moved, etc.
Well, that was what I was going to do…and then Norah turned up – all full of energy and we have loaded both cars with boxes and stuff. So now, off to Norah’s then dinner and then the new Harry Potter movie with Norah and Holly.