Thursday, March 3, 2011

Parties, clubs, shopping and more.....

Another week – it went by so quickly!  Time seems to go really fast here….I’m not sure why exactly.  It could be because I am not waiting all week for Saturday – since Saturday is another workday here….I get Thursday and Friday off as my weekend and since I am still not used to the days I never really know what day it is : )   I have the time down and I am over my jet lag though.  It took really almost a week to stop waking up at 3 am and wanting to go to sleep at 4 pm!!
I still haven’t really started work.  This week was spent with some consultants from Joint Commission International – doing a mock Joint Commission Survey.   For my non-healthcare friends, the Joint Commission is sort of like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for hospitals.  It really doesn’t mean a whole lot but most hospitals have the accreditation and wouldn’t think of not having it.  It involves a survey team coming to the hospital every three years and looking stem to stern to be sure their standards are met and everything in the hospital seems in order.  The big difference is the International Standards book is about an inch thick and the Standards book used in the states is about 4 inches thick.  For my healthcare friends, I can say all the additional standards really make no difference and the issues in the states are the issues here….unsecured medications, the occasional expired something, lack of communication between healthcare team members, care plans that aren’t individualized, etc…..
Surprisingly, the hospital looked pretty good to me overall.  It is probably the cleanest place I have ever seen – every bathroom, corner, closet, floor is spotless!  It is also pretty well maintained and has all of the state of the art equipment – in fact, they have things they probably don’t need - like a panoramic x-ray machine in the ER!  Everyone I have met is exceptionally nice, including the doctors.  The nurses are from everywhere but a lot are from the Philippines.  They seem pretty knowledgeable but language is definitely a barrier.
Last week, I met some new friends from the states, a married couple from San Diego.  They both work for Aramco, she is a nurse and he works for the “Core” (meaning the oil side) in finance.  They have a lovely home on camp and they were leaving for a month for what is called “repat” leave.  Every year within 3 months of your anniversary date you have to take at least 14 days leave out of the country.  If you add up the travel days and other things is really comes closer to 3 weeks.  So, since they were going to be gone a month they loaned me their car.  That has been a real treat!!!  I was worried about a driver’s license, only to learn that since women can’t legally drive in Saudi we are all driving illegally so a driver’s license isn’t needed.  Also, in case of an accident, the cars are insured and the owner of the car will be issued points that affect their annual safety award!!  This camp is really bigger than I thought and getting around by bus isn’t as easy as they made it sound in the orientation so I am enjoying my freedom (sort of!).
The camp is beautiful and the weather has been fantastic!  It has been sunny and warm during the day and cool with a lovely breeze at night.  Just perfect for sleeping with the door walls open.  There are flowers, palm trees, green grass and parks everywhere!  I just live about 50 feet from the golf course so I have been enjoying my evening walks on the trail that goes around it. 
My co-worker, Valerie, has been good to show me around and introduce me to people.  I have decided to join the Scuba diving club and look forward to getting certified.  Diving in the Red Sea is very popular and the fish are beautiful!  There are also some islands in the south on the Gulf that have lovely diving and the fish there are really interesting too.  The dive club meets once a month and someone gives a little presentation on one of the dives.  This week was about whale sharks – and that was spectacular!!  These are huge fish, they don’t bite and they are relatively rare.   I also went to a birthday party for a guy I met at the dive club.  He and his wife have been here, left, and just come back.  They have a sweet little baby girl.  The party was fun – just like a party at home complete with ***!!  They also had a “Shwarma dude”  -  that is what they call the chicken or lamb that is grilled on a spit kind of thing and then sliced off and rolled in a flat bread with tomatoes, garlic sauce and pickles.  It is really good!!  So think of a catered party with a **** -  just like home!!
I’ve missed everybody this week.  It has also been a little frustrating trying to figure out where I want to go, how to go there, how to do the things I need to do….in some ways like anytime you move, it’s all new.  But here, it’s all different too!!  Nothing really works like it did at home – there isn’t a WalMart and I can’t just jump in my car when I want to go to the mall because I am bored or lonely : )  I have to remember my abeya if I go into town (a long black robe thing the women have to wear) and I can only go in the “family doors” and “family sections” – the other are reserved for men.  But I think I am going to like this place – I am going to learn to balance work with the rest of my life and I am going to have a chance to learn some new things.  I can already hear some of you saying “ yeah, sure, you have only been there 2 weeks” but, there is a vibe here that is different.  I can’t explain it yet but I am confident I will be able to one day…..they call it the “Magic Kingdom”!!!

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