As you may or may not know, depending if you know me personally or not, I am not one for hanging around and wait for things to happen or to fall on my lap. I always feel it is better to hit the ground running rather than starting gradually, so, via various modes of communication (mainly Facebook), I set off on a mission to get a car, but first things first, other things happened before that!
First day of School!
After a lovely and relaxing Saturday evening the fun started on Sunday, as you may or may not be aware, working week in this neck of the woods is Sunday to Thursday (it is actually quite strange how normal it felt), Sunday was the first day on the induction agenda for Cathy (it included no teaching partners, hence why I tagged along), our instructions were to be by the bus stop at 11:30 (fortunately it is virtually outside our block, at these sort of temperatures you really don’t want to hang around for too long waiting). We arrived at the bus stop at 11:25 and waited, we were soon joined by another new arrival who also waited with us. After a few minutes a large white SUV arrived, it was one of the Assistant Directors of Primary apologising profusely but the mini bus had been and gone…… early! He told us to go back to our apartments and wait and he will sort something out. Some 10 to 15 minutes later he was back along with a mini bus. We drove around the compound collecting people and we were soon on our way to school. This was the first opportunity to meet some of the new arrivals, some of which had arrived a few hours earlier! most of the new arrivals are New Zealanders and Australians with a few Americans and Brits. We all arrived at school, soon after (it is only 2 km from our compound, it will make a nice change for Cathy compared to the 160 km round trip she was doing in Spain!). I like to think I have a pretty comprehensive vocabulary but quite honestly, there are no words to describe this building. The architecture, the design and the layout are simply beyond what I am capable to describe, awesome does not come anywhere near to doing this place justice.
We were guided to the cafeteria where there were very smartly laid out tables and the most amazing range of foods, as well as waiters and waitresses circulating offering everybody a lovely selection of juices (remember, no alcohol here! Before we could tuck into this succulent banquet, there were several very interesting speeches. Once the speeches were over, it was time to feast on this fine banquet and to mingle.
Sunday was to be a short day, by 2:15 or so, we were back home, next on the agenda was a shopping trip to Landmark Shopping Centre. Once again we were collected by the school mini bus and taken to this incredible shopping centre. We did all our shopping in Carrefour, we were delighted to see that generally speaking, prices are not much higher than Spain or even UK for food shopping. After our shopping expedition, we were taken back home where we soon proceeded to throw everything into its rightful place, grabbed our swimming gear and went for our evening swim.
Back at the Helm Looking After Katja
We are extremely lucky that Katja gets a place at school as school places in Doha are at a premium, not only that but she gets to go to an excellent school, however, the only issue is that she doesn’t start until 7th September and when she does, she will finish at 13:40 (we think), Cathy doesn’t finish until 15:00 hrs, which means me picking her up and then picking Cathy up, or something like that.
Cathy went off to school happily and waited for the bus at 08:30, bear in mind that by that time the temperature is already around 38 degrees, this time the bus was late, but at least it came!
Kati and I watched Frozen, for the millionth time, had a lazy sort of start to the day before heading off to the club house to check out the games room and other facilities. we then returned home, had some lunch and Kati dosed off, Cathy arrived not long after.
I had arranged via Facebook to pick up a hire car, after all, we are in an amazing area and we really can’t wait to start exploring. It is also the penultimate stage of us feeling at home (the final stage is when our shipment arrives). Qatar has (and I say this in the nicest and most respectful possible way) a rather minimalistic approach to road signs and directions, I haven’t noticed too many signs or road names, in addition to this, I have been told that due to the quick expansion in roads, having a GPS isn’t that much help either. we booked a driver to pick us up from the compound, someone who had been highly recommended by people who have been here quite some time. Jamal (our driver) turned up bang on time to pick us up, he was unsure as to where we were going (not too reassuring but as we were on an agreed price it didn’t matter) so he range the car hire people for directions. We arrived in this most amazing building and walked along its corridors until we found the car hire company, oddly enough it is called Sydney Car Rentals, perhaps I was in the wrong country! Once again, we were greeted by incredibly helpful and efficient people who could not do enough for us. we had the contract explained, even offered a choice of car colours too. We did all the paperwork required and then it was time to pay. For some reason, the lady took the deposit as one transaction which went through no problems, however, she then tried to take a second payment from the card which of course set off some sort of security alert in Spain (Spanish credit card) and the card was blocked…..ooops. Paco or Pepe did their job in blocking the card for security reasons, unfortunately there was nobody at the end of the phone for us to speak to because banks in Spain shut at 2 o’clock…. marvelous. Fortunately, I had brought with me some Euros to change in to Riyals which was pretty much exactly how much the car hire was! However, this is not the Eurozone, next challenge was to change currency before the car hire guys shut shop. Because I wanted us to get back home quickly and not taking the scenic route via Yemen, I had asked Jamal to wait for us and then to drive back to our compound so I could follow him. Jamal was a star and quickly whisked us around town until we found a currency exchange place. We changed money and were back at the car hire place before it shut for the day. We paid our money and were shown to the car. Having had several warnings about driving standards here, I was a bit apprehensive but soon realised that driving here is relatively similar to driving in Bulgaria, differences being that the roads are better but have far less sign posts!
We arrived back home quite tired as it all seems to be catching up with us so we popped over to the club house for a quick snack, the idea was for us to have a relaxing swim after tea but unfortunately, our little darling was being a pain in the proverbial so we decided to head home after tea and have an early night wondering what delights Tuesday would bring………..