Marhaba! (Ben taught us yesterday that this is how you say hello in Arabic.)
Well, what a difference a couple of days can make!
I've seen much happier faces getting off the bus in the last couple of days, especially yesterday - every Tuesday is early dismissal (12:30) for all the kids. Nick has made five friends (he's keeping track), and seems very comfortable getting around school for his different classes, buying lunch and finding company during his breaks. Ben has made a couple of friends, and I think I'm in already in love with his teacher - the personality fit for the two of them couldn't be better. Jacob is settling in quite well, and said he made a friend on the bus yesterday, a Fourth Grade girl from Australia who lives on our street. Yesterday, the kids had a couple of boys over in the afternoon to play video games and go swimming. They are also a new-to-Doha family, and have two boys, aged 12 and 9 - the oldest is in one of Nick's classes.
Yesterday, we asked Ben and Jacob what they had been doing at recess, since it's so hot outside. They said they stayed in and played computer games. "Mr. Leeper hands out laptops during recess to whoever wants them." Stunned silence on our part. Come again?? I think that particular perk has brought this school up several notches in their estimation!
I successfully completed the most arduous step in the Residence Permit (RP) process yesterday, getting my HIV test and having my chest X-ray read. Happily, I had two other ExxonMobil women (one a spouse, the other an employee) join me to get theirs done, too, and it was so nice to have company this time around. I actually felt like the experienced pro, as I knew how to navigate the first part of it, unlike my first attempt on Sunday!
Dan's office is located in West Bay, which is the downtown area of Doha with all the neat architecture. He works quite close to City Center Mall, which has a Carrefour, so he is able to pick up a few things after work if needed. Yesterday I called him and told him we needed milk, eggs, a combination lock for Nicholas...and a new dinghy. Yes, folks, it's true - I know you're shocked but our raft sprung a leak yesterday, setting the record for the demise of a new toy. Dan did not buy a new one, but patched it instead, and we're hoping it holds.
I learned some interesting facts about traffic rules in Doha from Rilwan the other day. We were being tail-gated by a Qatari in a large SUV, laying on his horn and flashing his lights. Rilwan had been going the posted speed limit (80 km/h) which seems to be recognized by ex-pats, but not (generally) the nationals. He was telling me that there are big fines for speeding, but only if you get caught, and mostly if you're not from Qatar. The fine for running a red light is anywhere from 6000QR or $1700CAD (running the light, no accident caused, but the camera catches you) to 50,000QR ($14000CAD), if you cause a serious accident. My temporary right to drive expires today, so it looks like I won't have to worry about it for awhile.
I have much thanks today for my neighbour, the appropriately named Joy, who gave me her extra set of measuring cups (ours are in our sea shipment). I was able to make brownies and chocolate chip cookies that held a reasonable semblance to the ones I make back home!