It was such a comforting experience because every aisle had familiar food items that we weren't expecting to find so far from home. For example, they have Progresso soup--and anyone who taught on the sixth grade team with me (Lee Shreeve) can testify to my undying love of all things Progresso. They also have those Hormel ComplEats meals, Lays potato chips, and Garnier Fructis hair products (which I use cause they're cheap).
The hilarious find of the night was this beauty:
We were also surprised to find that things really cost just about the same as at home, with a few items costing maybe a dollar or two extra.
For example: My shampoo cost SR 14.95. That looks like a shocking number, but when you convert that to US$, it translates to $3.98. If memory serves me correctly, that's the exact same price I used to pay at home.
This is both a blessing and a curse. We exchanged all the money we had to Saudi Riyals before we left. What use did we have for US dollars? We didn't really have ALL that much money before we left, but we were under the assumption that because the exchange was in our favor, some things would be cheaper over here. Now that we know that everyday items are roughly the same cost, budgeting will be super easy...but we've still got about a week and a half before our first paycheck, and the Riyals are disappearing fast.
After we went to Carrefour (that's the name of the "grocery" store here. I use the quotations because it's really like a Sears meets a Wal-Mart meets a Kroger. EVERYTHING in one place!!), Nour was so kind to drive us out to Al-Khobar, the part of town where Hubsy and I will be living once our apartment is ready. Al-Khobar is at the end of the Bahrain bridge, and it's a really really nice part of town! There's all kinds of public art--I can't wait to get our own car so we can drive around and take pictures to show you guys. There are parks along the beaches--which I still haven't seen in the daytime. Insh'allah that will happen soon.
Nour went way above and beyond the call of duty, and he showed us the New Villas, the townhouses the school has purchased and is renovating for the new teachers. This is where the language barrier kicked in because I don't think he understood that we're actually going to be living in the new apartments which are somewhere near the new villas, but it was great nontheless to see our soon-to-be stomping grounds.
THE NEW VILLAS WERE SOOO BEAUTIFUL!! I wanted to take pictures, but they're not really where I'm going to be living, so I thought it would be silly. They have wonderful tile floors, great bedrooms and the kitchens are fantastic! If our new apartment is half as lovely I will be a happy girl.
Nour was so sweet to then drive us through what the Mister and I dubbed the Green Hills of Dammam. It's called the Golden Belt and Green Belt. I cannot even begin to describe to everyone how opulent and amazing these houses were!! Take the McMansions of Brentwood and multiply them by like 5 and you've got an idea of the sizes of these houses! We'll go back in the daytime and take pictures.
Anyway, now it's the weekend, and the Mister and I are kind of holed up in our hotel room just lesson planning, internet surfing and all around vegging out. We have no car, and Nour was out so late driving us around last night that we feel kind of bad calling him up to work on his weekend as well.
I think it goes without saying we're excited to move into our apartment and get our car so we can reclaim some of our freedom.
In the meantime, we remain
p.s. I've been trying to post a recording of the evening call to prayer, but we can't find the cords the connect our video camera to the computer. So that little tidbit might have to wait until we get into the apartment and can really search through our stuff.