Get ready for a long one, folks. I had so much to say yesterday, but I didn't post as I was following the old adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"!
I have to be honest with you...yesterday was our toughest day here yet. The kids started school, and as I had an appointment, I was unable to join them. They got up at 6:00 am to catch their 7:00 am bus, so that in itself made everyone a little bit edgier. It think Ben's day went the smoothest, with no hiccups in his schedule, and he even learned to write his name in Arabic (NOW the moved over was worthwhile)! The fifth graders (all 154 of them) got together in the cafeteria and the teachers had games to help kids meet others. Jacob's foreign language registration somehow got missed, so he was temporarily put in Spanish yesterday - we hope to have that straightened out by today. Nicholas was pretty positive about his experience, but he did miss out on a couple of electives that he chose in the spring, and is unable to take Arabic as he was told he needed to start that in Grade 6. We're looking into it to see what can be done...we'd like him to take some foreign language, and he's not allowed to take French (because of being in immersion previously). All the kids seemed to really like their teachers - I think that will go a long way in making the transition smooth. Dan stopped by the elementary school at lunch, and saw both Jacob and Ben - I think it was nice for them to see an familiar face.
Jacob was the most down when he got off the bus yesterday - hang-dog expression on his face, head hung down, dragging his feet (cue the Charlie Brown theme song). He's upset because he hasn't made any friends yet, but I have every confidence that it won't take much time for him, as he is such a friendly kid. Ben (who is the only Canadian in his class) said he met two kids from the US, a boy and a girl, who seem pretty friendly. Nicholas met quite a few people yesterday, and I'm sure he'll do just fine.
Yesterday I was scheduled to go for an HIV test at the offices of the Supreme Council for Health, as one of the requirements for obtaining my Residence permit. The women's clinic is segregated, and normally Exxon provides an escort to help you through the whole process, but since that wasn't possible yesterday, they provided me instead with an "expediter" - Salmeen, a Qatari man whose is supposed to translate for you and tell you where you should stand in line, etc. However, the driver and the expediter forgot to pick me up at 8:30, and by the time Dan made some phone calls on my behalf, it was 10:30 before another driver got here - I was happy to see Rilwan again. By 11:00 I was at the clinic and had received a number for my place in the queue...I was 95 people back. I sat and waited until 12:30 (remember it's Ramadan, so no eating, drinking, chewing gum - it felt even too awkward to read my book), and I was feeling pretty good that there were now only 30 people ahead of me. However, at that point the power went out and their system went down. The electronic numbers above the wickets disappeared and most people rushed to line up. This turned out to be fruitless because all the women behind the counter had stopped working. After a conversation with an Irish woman (who told me that they were not going to re-open again that day) and some discussion outside with Salmeen (with him speaking to me in Arabic and English, gesturing for me to get back in line), I convinced him that I should return another day. So, I get to do it all over again on Tuesday morning, hopefully with much more success!
I filled my washing machine with water yesterday morning (hot - the only kind there is in Doha) and let it cool all day. When I got home at 2:00 (and after I had cracked a beer) I started a load of laundry, but the washer quit. Great capper to a lousy day!
Today has already been more promising, with the kids heading off to school in better spirits, my neighbour from across the street stopping by for a visit this morning, and Maintenance arriving to replace the burned-out motor in my washer. I'll try to have a happier (and shorter!) entry next time!