Saturday, October 03, 2009

Swimtrek in Malta!

Just had an awesome trip to Malta with Momma where I got to do a Swimtrek.

Swimtrek is a company that organizes long distances swim and provides all the boat support and guides. We were based on the island of Gozo and then each day would swim to other islands or around the coastline. There were 7 swimmers from all over and over 5 days of swimming we swam 15 miles and crossed and 2 channels.
Mom & I on the ferry back to Malta, covering the same 5 miles I had swam just a couple days earlier!
The uniform
Local fishing boats
One of our swims we swam into "Popeye's" Village. Its the town that was built for the movie, it was fun to swim in and its this whole crazy looking town.
The "Crystal Lagoon"

We had 3 groups based on speed, I was a yellow (slowest)...but no matter to me, I was just happy to be out there swimming!

The islands around Malta have numerous caves that we were able to swim in and some of them we could swim through. Really awesome!!!
This was the end of our first swim and then we would eat lunch on the boat and jump back in to swim another section of the coast.

A nice place to spend my birthday!!!

Our base hotel in Gozo
2 of us had a birthday!
Momma in Malta

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A little comparison

I was just thinking about the difference in the diving conditions in the locations I have been living for the past 10 years. Here is a brief comparison!

Johnston Island
Walk to marina
Take very very short boat ride to dive site
as easy as it gets!!!

Marshall Islands
Ride bike with dive gear to marina
drive nice boat out to a variety of choices...literally hundreds of choices on where to go for GREAT diving!

Drive a "pisten bully" to a little hut
scrape fresh ice off the dive hole
descend down an ice tunnel
see penguins on the way home

When divers done, take extra clothes and jump in ice water just for fun!

Drive SUV through sand dunes to dive site
Walk through trash
See wild camels on way home

Suprising things I have recently learned...

Wow, its been 3 months since I posted anything here....still in crazy Qatar, working and it seems like every day I learn something new that just about makes my jaw fall wide open.

Here are the most recent lessons learned:

  1. Some Muslim men don't shake hands with females! This was the first time I have ever encountered that.
  2. To some hardcore religous, its not ok to sit next to a Muslim guy if you are female....
  3. The standard wages for a live in maid to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week are: $202 per month!!
  4. Its very common for families to be arranging the marriages for their daughters.
  5. Its impolite to open a gift in front of the person who gave it to you!
  6. 64 ounces of Tide laundry detergent costs: $31.92
  7. Momma camels are very mean if the baby is nearby.
  8. A driver can actually refuse to drive females around and will put a sticker on his car if he wont take them.
  9. I was asked what religion I wanted the guy coming to fix the TV to be. I had to have them repeat that to me a few times. They wanted to know if its ok to send a Christian to fix the TV or should it be a Muslim. WOW! That one got me, I just said no matter to me...whoever knows how to fix the tv is fine.
  10. You can actually go to jail for eating or drinking in public during Ramadan.
and yes, I learned all of these (well not the jail bit) first hand and probably the hard/embarrassing way!!!

Here are a few recent pictures
Me the executive!!! who woulda thought...

JoJo on his very first ever ocean dive.
yes you sure can burn raviolis!

the awesome pool that's just steps from my office!!!Parking lot of the beach....nobody cares, they just throw their trash wherever!
Me and my new ride!!!

Momma & Baby CamelThe worlds most expensive laundry detergent!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thoughts on life in Qatar

I have been in Qatar for 16 months now and some days I really like it and others I wonder what the heck I am still doing here.
I started to list what I like and don't like but then realized, they are the same thing!
Here are some of my thoughts/observations on living in this country, its a mix of living in 2009 and 1809...most days are a combination of both.
  1. I like I am seeing Qatar being built up for the first time, this country is roughly 20 years behind most developed places I have been
  2. I like that you can stay in a 5 star hotel but be served camel foot for dinner
  3. I like that its part old world and part new world, often in the same buildings/businesses. However I don't understand why government offices are still using typewriters!!!
  4. I don't like the driving, traffic, drivers...all that goes with that
  5. I dont like the summer heat & humidity, May-October is INTENSE!
  6. I don't understand what to me seems like arrogance in some of the locals. If they have to wait for something forget it! It drives me crazy when you see them pull up in their land cruisers to a fast food restaurant that does NOT have a drive through. They will sit in their air conditioned cars and blare the horn until somebody comes out to serve them. I don't get it!
  7. I don't like that my apartment does not have an address and if I want something delivered it takes hours of trying to navigate the non English speaking driver through a series of landmarks to my apartment.
  8. I also don't understand why some of the streets have a name but not all of them. Seems to be about half and half.
  9. I don't understand how the answer "Inshallah" is ok for is the plumber going to fix the sink? Inshallah.
  10. I don't understand the sponsorship seems like slavery in many ways and your employers really own you and even keep your passports!
  11. The price of gas is cheap but laundry detergent is super duper expensive...I guess just because we are sitting on a mountain of gas and not detergent.
  12. Its funny that there is a Baskin Robbins on every single corner!
  13. I like that there are the old fashioned jobs, the people that ride the elevators with you, deliver groceries (if you have an address), make photocopies for you, open the doors....that stuff all feels old fashioned to me.
  14. I find it strange that they still advertise for arranged marriages in the newspapers and that if you read the classified ads for a car it will tell you if its been "lady driven".
  15. I was shocked that when my friend I went to a restaurant, he had to ask in Arabic if ladies are allowed inside! (I was allowed in and even seated in my own air conditioned room!)
  16. I have been very shocked at what you learn about our neighbor, conservative Saudi Arabia. I was shocked to recently have read about an 8 year old little girl was denied a divorce from a 40 something year old man! Just this week I read this headline, "Saudi judge approves wife slapping". Something about if the wife spends to much money then its legal for the husband to slap her, this was actually in the same article as information about domestic violence!!!
  17. I like the pride of the Qataris but I dont like how the Indians, Phillipinos, Bangladeshis & Sri Lankans are treated....they work for slave wages, many of them earn just a couple hundred dollars a month!
  18. If you have money here then it could be a very cushy lifestyle, the locals have figured out the pampering lifestyle and I think really want Doha to become a 5 star destination.
  19. I really like going to the movies here, instead of popcorn you can get a bowl of real hot corn.
  20. I like all the different nationalities that are here, in my new job there are people from over 50 countries working there.

Just my thoughts....I think one of the biggest things keeping me here is that still after 16 months I feel like I have no idea whats going on, like there is still more to figure out.

Come visit, its an interesting place!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

its really been 2 months??

Lots of changes since the last update!

The biggest is that I quit my job and have moved into downtown Doha.

The last time I posted anything I was interviewing for a job with Qatar Foundation well I GOT THE JOB!! I am very excited about it and thrilled to be out of my other job. I have not started yet, the hiring process is a bit extreme. Its been nearly 2 months now and I think I am getting closer to a start date. I have felt like I was on the Amazing Race trying to get all the proper stamps, signatures, approvals etc...Definitely the hardest I have ever had to work to actually get the job. I didn't think anything could beat the hiring process for Antarctica but Qatar makes that seem like it was so easy.

So for now, I am chilling in Doha car shopping, apartment stuff shopping and gearing up for the next step.

I have even had visitors here in Doha! Jenn & Christina were here for 3 days on their way to Africa and then my Dad was just here for 2 days on his way home from Africa. So awesome to see them here and show them a bit of this very unique city.

Yesterday, I took a drive to the KSA (Saudi Arabia) border. I just wanted to see what it looked like...which was really just a heavily guarded border crossing. I didn't stay to long as I am sure that a girl driving with an expired residency would have gotten me in all kinds of trouble

This is Jenn gone Arab

Had a lunch party for Jenn/Christina with my Bangladeshi & Filipino Friends
Moni, Afsar, Ali, Bastey, Bits, Christina and JoJo

me and JoJo

I had bought a bottle of water in the grocery store and the cashier didn't have change. So she gave me the gum instead of change back. I just thought it was funny!

Hopefully now that I wont be working 84 hours a week, I will have more time to update this site. I would also like to start working on writing a book...I feel like I have a funny story in me that needs to come out.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

a little polish

I am trying to get a job with the Qatar Foundation.

I have had to 2 interviews with them and my very good friend JoJo has gone with me both times. He gets dressed up in his interview clothes and sits in the car while I am in the meeting.

While I was in the interview he drew this picture of what I looked like going inside.