Finally in KSA

I was beginning to think that I would never get here! My visa came via fed-ex Friday morning which was in due time for me to make my 8:30 pm flight out of JFK. Unfortunately, my colleague’s visa did not arrive in time so he doesn’t fly until Sunday evening, getting him here on Monday afternoon.

The plane was a 777-300ER which seats 386 passengers. Of which I was one of two white folks. The other one being male, which is easier by default here! I got a few looks…by every person walking down the aisle. Upon landing I lined up in the very long customs line that said first time visitors.  An employee asked to see my passport and then wandered off with it. I followed him as I didn’t want my passport to disappear and he directed a bunch of human traffic into the lines ahead of me. I wasn’t overly impressed but just kept smiling.  He then looked at my visa and asked if I was a first time visitor…duh, was my thought process, but I bit my tongue, smiled, said yes.  He then directed me to the line that said diplomats and only had two people in it. Yay!

As I was in the short line, this all happened quickly and I headed off to collect my luggage. In this next room I saw two gentlemen immediately head my way, I aimed in their direction and met my contact, Adnan. We have been communicating electronically for months and it was nice to finally speak face to face.

As I am a single female, my sponsor must sign me out of the airport. Adnan has lived in KSA for 32 years but, as he is not a Saudi, he wasn’t able to sign me out! Our driver fulfilled this role for me. At this point, I put on the abaya that they had brought for me and we headed to the hotel.

Hotel is a Marriot so pretty standard. But, I have to wear the abaya when outside of my room. I have almost walked out of the room without it twice.  I get halfway out the door and think, darn, gotta get the robe!  It is going to take some getting used to. I tend to trip on the hem as it is quite long. This is due to it being designed to ensure that ones ankles don’t peek out.

I tour my villa tomorrow, I’m looking forward to it. I will post photos when I have them.  If anyone is interested, the website for the housing compound is   It looks pretty nice.  I will have a two bedroom villa which will be perfect when my parents come to visit.

On the less positive side, I keep looking for my tiny dog. It is going to be a long year without her…

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