Monday, September 12, 2011

What an expat couple buys in bulk before returning to Saudi Arabia

Starting as early as March, the Mister and I were compiling a list of the things we needed to stock up on before returning to Saudi for our second go around. We were hoping to pride ourselves on being the Americans who didn't move overseas only to become mega brats because they couldn't find the modern conveniences of home. But by the middle of our second semester, we came to terms with the fact there are just some things we don't want to compromise on. So within a few days of returning to Nashville, I was hitting up my local Target and Costco and buying so many of some of the things we can't find here that we actually had to bring back two more suitcases than we left Saudi Arabia with.

Here's a peek into our luggage.

Greeting cards!! I know, right?! What a weird thing to need to spend more than $50 on! (oops, yeah...sorry honey! We spent $50 on greeting cards...)

It never occurred to me that I would need to buy a card for every possible holiday and a few blank ones for the holidays I forgot, but it is so hard to find a greeting card in this country! I thought there might be a Hallmark store or something at one of the malls, but I was sorely mistaken. Eventually I found a pitiful little card display at the grocery store on one of the local compounds, but the selection left much to be desired.

In Saudi Arabia's defense, there is a Hallmark store in Bahrain (yeah, I don't get how that defends Saudi either...just go with it), but there's not much to choose from and they're crazy expensive. I found some postcards, but they were 1BD ($2.66)!! And that didn't even include the stamp!

Instead, I chose to wait it out and hit up the card stacks when I got home.

Sunscreen. I live in the land of endless sun, and I haven't been able to find an affordable bottle of sunscreen the entire time we've been here! Don't let me mislead you: There is sunscreen available for purchase here, but I haven't been able to find a bottle of SPF 15 for less than $20, and I could only find the small bottles.

I mean, I guess it has to be imported? Or maybe there's limited demand since so many people just stay indoors or only go out at night? Or perhaps it's because Arabs just don't seem to suffer the same ill effects of the sun that the Pale Ones do.

Doesn't matter because I've now returned back with 4 different varieties, and I got them all from the clearance shelf at Target! Ah, the benefits of not returning home till after the beginning-of-summer sunscreen rush.

...or something like that.

Several seasons of a few different TV series. Again, don't be misled: There is plenty of programming in English here. And most of it consists of modern(ish) American shows. They're just not the shows we watch...or they're so censored that they're not fun anymore. Also, TV programmers seem to specialize in all the shows that were cancelled in the States a few years ago.

Let's just say we wandered around Best Buy for a while and tried to show some self restraint.

Tampons. 324 of 'em. Thank you, Costco!

Let's move on.

Vitamins and painkillers. Sometimes you'll get lucky and find the random pharmacy that sells more than Flintstones-esque daily vitamins, but they require a lot of money for not a lot of product. And Panadol, the popular pain reliever around here, does absolutely nothing for me. I have no idea why.

So I went to Costco and got 2 bottles of the daily multivitamin pictured, 2 similarly sized bottles of calcium plus vitamin D supplements, and the mega bottle of acetaminophen you see before you. I think the total cost was less than fifty bucks. Yes. Less than the cost of our greeting cards.

I never thought I'd see the day that I would need to find a place in my luggage for more than 300 tampons and an oddly large amount of greeting cards, but apparently moving overseas has that effect on people.

Vicariously yours,

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