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Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Big Homeward Bound List

We're making our way through our "get outta here!" list and it feels darn good! Here's what we've been busying doing lately:

1. Selling the car and squeezing as much out of the transportation allowance as possible in car rental
2. organizing our stuff: sell, give away, ship home, pack and take on the plane home
3. job applications
4. scourering online for various departure date airfare
5. researching the best (and cheapest) way to immigrate our two cats to the US
6. teaching

Selling the car was a pain the in ass that we ended early - thank goodness! As soon as we posted it on Qatar Living we got two phone calls despite my error in listing M's mobile number two different ways! Unfortunately, those early callers were just trying to low ball us by offering well below what we had listed the car. I figure there are some locals that make a killing off buying cars and flipping them for a profit in a week's time. After a few people called, said they would meet us at X location to view the vehicle, and then did not show up - M took the next customer that showed up. We finally sold the car less than a week after posting it to a nice Indian woman. Her husband and friend came to view the car, but I actually sold the car to the wife. We felt good about selling it to that couple because they really needed a car for the wife. They had been paying a driver 1,000 QR each week to drive her to and from work in Al Khor! I could see that she was very excited to get the car. We only dropped the price by 2,000 QR and more importantly, we do not have to worry about selling it at the last minute.

Kia Soul

Suzuki Celerio and Alto

Since we sold our car, we had to find a rental for our remaining months here. I have never driven a car quite like the one we have now. For just two days we drove what we thought was the world's tiniest car - the Kia Soul. We were wrong. In retrospect, I loved that Soul. We are now driving a Suzuki Celerio, soon to be replaced by an even smaller gutless Suzuki Alto. These Suzukis are so tiny and powerless that even though they are automatics we drive them as if they were manuals. I feel badly for formerly cursing the drivers of these tiny cars because I thought the drivers were just taking their time on the mean streets of Doha. I now know that the slowpoking was not due to the driver, but because of the car's non-existent engine. The Suzukis are both only 1450QR a month, and my transportation allowance is just 1500QR a month, so we are technically making money by renting a car run by gerbils.

We've got quite a bit of stuff, but not nearly as much as others will have to deal with when they leave Qatar. We have truly saved money while in Qatar, rather than spent it. The only things we will ship or pack are:

  • books
  • shoes

  • clothes
  • photos
  • souvenirs
  • Bose iPod docking station

  • Pampered Chef crockpot

  • Down feather comforter

  • two personal laptop computers

  • cameras

  • iPods
  • Imation media center

  • cat toys (Yes, I am taking the cat tunnel whether my husband likes it or not!)

We've got nearly a whole house in storage at home, so the sell/give away list is quite large. Here are the things we will sell or give away:

  • blender

  • microwave (so big the crockpot could fit in it!)

  • faux George Forman grill

  • iron and ironing board

  • DVD player

  • clothes drying rack (no clothes dryer here - so happy to be going home!)

  • two sets of twin sheets

  • two sets of queen sheets

  • four pillows

  • throw pillow covers

  • curtains

  • dishes (not a full 8-person set because some were broken in shipment to Qatar)

  • pots and pans

  • forks, knives, spoons

  • place mats for 6 (2 sets)
  • trash cans (1 kitchen, 2 bathroom)
  • shower curtain, rug, toilet bowl cleaner (2 sets)

  • two folding picnic chairs
  • potted plants

My job search has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. As always, I need to relax! While looking for jobs, I need to remember that the "fit" is most important. I need to find where I fit best, not just which job I think I want. I have been checking my favorite job posting sites nearly every day, but some institutions will not post openings until they confirm fall enrollment which might not be until late August. My little heart must be patient, which is something it does not like to be. In addition to waiting to pounce as soon as the job advertisement goes up, some openings are not really open to the public. Therefore, I am letting specific colleagues know that I am job hunting and what M and I are looking for in a place to settle for awhile.

Of course, if we are both unemployed for more than a few months after we get home there's always Plan B - get a part-time job teaching where I got my MA. I am not worried about M. He can go back to school for his MS, or do anything really because he excels at whatever he puts his mind to doing. My super husband is a jack of trades, very likeable, and a helluva worker. (In fact, his incredible work ethic was one of the top three things that attracted me to him!)

Sending the cats home to the US has been a nightmare of finding information. There are some good pet relocation services that operate out of Doha, Qatar. However, our hometown/region in the US is smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Therefore, we received ridiculous quotes like these:

1. Service can get the cats to Houston, Texas, but that's it . . . for about $4000USD. This was strange because they claim to get pets from "A to B."

2. Service can fly cats from Doha to New Jersey and then to Chicago. Service would drive the cats to hometown - hours away for double the price estimated above. Nice, so what you're saying is you'll rip us off and totally piss our cats off!

3. Service will only do the paper work and give us a website (see #2) to rip us off.

What we have decided to do is this:

M will take his one week of his 24 remaining days of vacation that his work refuses to cash out. M will fly on the cheapest airfare we can find to Houston, Texas. He will take all the luggage he can handle so we save on shipping later. He will meet the cats that will have flown direct from Doha to Houston via the "world's only 5-star airline" Qatar Airways. The three of them will road trip an estimated 12 hours to our hometown and collapse. M will leave the cats with my parents to acclimate to live in America while he drives back to Houston and flies back to Doha. That make me tired just thinking about it, but oddly enough it is the best plan for where we are going, and what my employer will give us for shipping allowance upon departure. Plus, M gets to eat Mexican food for a whole week! Sadly, they will leave me all alone in this hell hole. In fact, this upcoming Operation Fly Cats Home ordeal will keep M and I apart for the first time sine October 1st, 2009. Yikes!

During all of this I have been teaching a very good group of young Arab men. We are entering week four of fourteen, and I must say it has been a good first few weeks. M is also having some relief at work teaching courses that he has already prepared for, and thus, does not need to spend as much time making lessons.

Life is good, but it is going to get even better!

Until Next Time,

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