When you go on this sort of lifestyle, one of the key things is to “take is at it comes” or to “just go with the flow” – For someone who can be deemed as relatively “highly strung” this can be a sort of challenge, however, in my old age I seem to be mellowing out a bit and learning to just take is as it comes.
Our experience when coming through arrivals could not be better, met by friendly and very welcoming people from school who soon put us at ease in our new environment. Before leaving arrivals they made sure we had SIM cards for our phones with a local number as well as sufficient credit.
We all took our laden trolleys and ventured outside, I can only describe the experience as walking into a room with a heated swimming pool or tropical gardens. It wasn’t so much the temperature which surprised me/ us but the humidity. Within a few minutes of being outside our suitcases had a layer of moisture over the surface, just like steamy windows in a car or house, it was simply mind boggling, uncomfortable, surreal and fascinating as I had never experienced this sort of phenomena.
The Long Drive Home
We were directed to our mini bus with Andrew and Katy who we had met on the flight, we all squeezed our luggage on board as there was no luggage compartment, it was such a relief to be in an air conditioned environment. As we made our way to our final destinations we admired the bright lights and skyscrapers beautifully illuminated. We had been warned of crazy drivers but it all seemed rather tame, then it dawned on me that it was Friday night so I guess this is a quiet as it gets. Gradually we left the bright lights of the city behind us and eventually after stopping to ask for directions several times we stopped at the first drop off point in a compound of smart and spacious villas but not for us. I have learnt over time that the best way to avoid disappointment is to have an open mind, after all, the mind is like a parachute, it works far better when open! We made our way out of the compound of smart villas and along partly made roads and eventually into a very nice compound with security barriers at the entrance and very polite security officers. After a lengthy conversation between driver and security officers we were on the move again. After going around the compound and back to where we started we were back to square one at the entrance. At this point I must admit I had a bit of a sinking feeling as I really liked the complex. The driver was back behind the wheel and we were escorted by a golf cart who guided him to a block a mere 200 yards from the entrance.
Feeling very happy we were to be based in this compound I started unloading our luggage – Waiting for us was a very friendly lady from school who I thought was called Catherine (later found out her name is Sarah). I struggled to unload all our luggage and get it to the front door, only to be told we are on the second floor………………………..and there’s no lift (at least this part of the building has air con). The driver and Sarah very kindly helped in bringing everything up to the apartment. As an estate agent I was keen to wander around the apartment and see where we will be living and call home. I could not help but to be incredibly pleasantly surprised.
Entrance leading to a large hallway with very high ceilings, open plan sitting room and dining area to the right hand side, spacious kitchen with serving hatch with granite/ marble work surfaces, fully equipped with all mod cons as well as brand new still packaged cutlery and crockery! Bedrooms are all spacious with private dressing rooms, a spacious en-suite serving the master bedroom and a private shower room serving the second bedroom.
All rooms are air conditioned and have their own temperature control, even though I added this sentence towards the end, I think it should have been the opening line really as this is far more important than anything else!
In addition to this there is an ironing/ storage room as well as a laundry room, in other words, it is absolutely ideal for us or in plain English, we are chuffed to bits with the place!
The fridge was stocked with basics to keep us ticking over until the next day, it was a great opportunity to christen the frying pan and to have our first meal in the Middle East – fried eggs on toast!
The Morning After the Night Before
Saturday morning I woke up relatively early, OK, incredibly early, it was 5:20, but the sun was shining brightly and I had an new environment to explore! Cathy rather grumpily told me to go away and explore quietly without disturbing her, or Katja!
The apartment has Wifi throughout (I learnt the next day that there’s Wifi throughout the entire compound, even outdoors). I hooked up my phone onto Wifi and a million e-mails cam through, unfortunately, getting the lap top to play ball wasn’t quite as simple, but after a couple of hours of playing around with it, it seemed to be working.
Cathy and Katja woke up a little later, we had breakfast and started the unpacking process. Sarah who had been there the night before had very kindly offered to take us shopping if we wanted. We took her up on her kind offer. Bravely (or stupidly) I decided to take a short walk with Katja to explore our surroundings (it is easy to forget the extreme temperatures when you are in a cold apartment apartment from when you venture close to a window). we walked out of the block and that incredible heat and humidity hit us like once again like a wrecking ball bulldozing a large apartment block. Undeterred we soldiered on and started walking across the footbridge next to our block. It was soon obvious this wasn’t one of my wisest decisions so we headed back to our cool apartment. During our short walk we came across a few people, mainly workers who were all incredibly polite and greeted us with big smiles.
Not too long after coming back there was a knock on the door, it was a very pleasant chap by the name of Dom, or Don (after asking someone their name twice, it’s embarrassing to ask a third time, I have seen him a couple of times and I am still none the wiser). He lives below us and also works at school, we had a long chat which gave us the opportunity to ask a few questions at the same time. It was nice to feel we are making new friends! Once of the great things about new places is making new friends and hearing other people’s experiences and life stories!
Not long after Dom or Don left Sarah turned up, she drove us across the road (the other side of the footbridge by our apartment some 200 yards from home) and showed us all the facilities on site (swimming pool, full gym, games room, sauna (yes SAUNA!), restaurant cheap as chips as well as a program with all activities available, most of which are free) following this we went off shopping……we drove all of 300 yards to the nearest supermarket (there’s also a bank, dry cleaners, coffee shop etc there too) In fairness, it would have been very difficult to walk back with all that shopping etc etc so we were eternally grateful for this kind gesture. After shopping we returned home to find a bottle of wine by our front door…. we had no idea who from until a while later when we received a text message saying it was from Joneen (Primary School Assistant Principle) to say welcome home. She later too popped in with another new teacher to say hi and to welcome us to Qatar.
Later on that evening we met up with Andrew, Katy and kids, we all had a fantastic meal at the restaurant which was then followed by a couple of hours in the pool. This was a very surreal experience as to start off with, the showers before getting in the pool are incredibly hot………….and so is the pool! We can only use the pool when the sun goes down as it’s an outdoor pool. In future we can use the one at school which is indoors and only 2 km away, but more about that another time…………