Hello everyone!

Now that we have the time and the sanity to write, we'll tell you what we have been up to.

The flight over was very very long, 14+ hours in the air was bad enough, and the crying babies made it even more exhausting. Our layovers were a bit long, and the Abu Dhabi airport was quite a bit too cold (about 60F, thanks for the blanket mom). We snagged some seats near one of the very, very few outlets and just camped out on our computers - but no free internet. It seems free internet at airports is becoming harder and harder to find these days.

After landing in Jeddah, we took the shuttle from the airplane to the arrivals gate and met a representative from the university there. There were two other students on the same flight, so we kind of stayed together for a bit while our contact got customs ready for us. Our contact sort of helped us through the long process of getting into the country. We had our fingerprints and our pictures taken, and our passports stamped. It turns out they actually used those pictures for our residence cards, and since it was after almost a full day of travel and it was about 3am, they are easily some of the worst pictures we've ever taken. Some of the locals trying to get through customs were annoyed that we were taken to the front of the line, but it wasn't too bad. It did seem to take a long time to get all four of us through, as the guy at the counter seemed to try and multi task whenever someone else would come speak to him. We finally picked up our checked bags from the biggest luggage carousel we've probably ever seen. It was quite difficult to navigate with our luggage, the airport was almost packed full, even more so than an average airport. This is mostly because of the large number of people traveling through the airport during the Hajj season. The airport isn't very big to begin with either. A car was waiting for us outside, and I nearly fell asleep on the hour-long ride north to campus. I had been awake for nearly the whole trip; Abby had gotten maybe six hours of sleep on the plane.

Once on campus, we had to stop so that we could pick up our IDs at the dedicated ID building. Then we were taken one of the two hotels on campus and dumped in the lobby at about 5:00AM local time. The attendant at the desk called someone and told us just to wait in the lobby. About half an hour later, they brought us boxed lunches, which were better than nothing. An hour after that we tried to explain that Abby was the student and I was the dependent. It took a couple tries but they eventually understood. In a majority of cases, the dependent spouse is usually the wife, so they were surprised by our reversed situation. Sometime around 8:30AM someone finally showed up to take us to our apartment. We were brought to our apartment, and given a twenty second tour, and a contract to sign. The gentleman was in a bit of a hurry, and encouraged us to just sign it without reading it, because we would be given a copy that we could read at our leisure. I was tempted to say that if he could wait almost four hours to get us into the apartment, he could wait another thirty seconds to let us read the single page contract, but I didn't. One very helpful thing that he did do was to clearly point out the telephone number, 959, to call for maintenance.

I'll tell you more about maintenance in my next post.