no shortage of kleenex

Written on Nov 22, almost half way through my trip.
Well, today I peed in a hole in the ground, so I can cross that one off my bucket list. Most of the Ministry bathrooms have conventional toilets, but Tracy had me try the one that was the traditional hole. It was a bit tricky with the abaya, but I managed. In general I’m a bit mortified at the state of women’s bathrooms. They seem clean, but they all have a strange smell, there is rarely toilet paper, and rarely paper towel. If you’re lucky there will be a kleenex box, which is an okay substitute for toilet paper, but not for paper towel. Oh, and the permanent sign on the IBM washroom has a misprint, and it’s labelled “Ladles bathroom”, with an ‘l’ instead of an ‘i’.

Speaking of kleenex, I’ve never seen so many boxes of kleenex. At restaurants, instead of napkins, there is kleenex. When you have a meeting, people will bring in bottles of water, tea and boxes of kleenex. It’s everywhere.

Today was busy. We had a workshop this morning demo-ing part of the system to some family doctors and public health practitioners. My job was to take notes, and one third of the meeting happened in Arabic. I only know how to say thank you, so that was a bit difficult. Then the higher-ups had a whole bunch of meetings so I went to the ladies section of IBM and worked on my own for a bit. It’s very anti-social, being a women here. At least in a professional sense.

We are heading to Jeddah tomorrow evening for the weekend (work week is Saturday to Wednesday here). We are staying in the Sheraton Resort there, and we can wear whatever we want while at the resort. I must say, the abaya gets a bit cumbersome. And I don’t know why I bother doing anything to my hair, as wearing a headscarf even just for five minutes flattens it.

It was very cool today — about 15 degrees, and it even rained a tiny bit. I just looked at the forecast and there are cooler temperatures forecast for a few days. But Jeddah will be high 20’s, so that’s good. Apparently the Red Sea is about 30 degrees celsius. I can’t even imagine that! I am planning to go snorkelling.

It’s really quite amazing, this experience. I’m thankful that it’s turning out okay for me, thankful that Greg seems to be managing with the kids, and thankful that I was given this opportunity.

I’m off to read for a bit before bed. I’m skyping with the kids and Greg tomorrow morning so I’ll have a nice start to my day.