Saturday, 19 June 2010

Sick in Saudi.

I'm sick. I've been unwell for a week now having picked up an earache in Salalah that has turned into a fully fledged flu. I now have a sore ear, sore teeth (what the??), aching joints, dry and peeling lips, a cough, bunged up lungs, alternately blocked and runny nose, a throat just on the turn, a temperature and I'm feeling very, very tired. and lethargic.  

Imagine having flu when outdoors the temperature is 40 degrees Celsius at 10am.  By lunch time it's over 50C. 

I don't like being sick in a foreign country.  I'd much rather be sick at home. 

I haven't got a doctor here, not that that means anything, I don't usually go to doctors anyway, preferring to try natural therapies and homeopathy - none of which are here, at least I haven't found them yet.  So I really am not enjoying being sick right now.

I spoke to the ladies about a good doctor.  Unfortunately there is no friendly GP service down the road.  The advice I received was go sign up at a hospital when you're not sick so your name is on the file otherwise, you could be waiting an awful long time to be seen if you rock up sick and unregistered.  I probably, really should have done that already and probably, possibly could that now, but think I'll just keep taking the garlic and large doses of Vitamin C instead.

My thoughts are all over the place today - I'm blaming it on sickness.


I knew before I came here that there wasn't the freedom I was used to.  I also knew there wasn't the entertainment I was used to.  But I was assured that, regardless, I would be kept so busy I just wouldn't know how to fit everything in.

Hmmmmm.  Ok, some days can be like that.  Other days..... are monotonous to the point of madness.  Thank goodness for internet, which in itself can be maddening.

I could get into salsa dancing classes, or belly dancing classes or mah jong, or pottery painting or indoor bowls or art classes or book clubs.....lots of ladies join those groups on various compounds and keep busy every day going from one thing to the other. Those things just aren't me. 

I could make myself go, just to keep myself busy, but the whole thing feels like a false life, false I'll just lie around at home until something a bit more meaningful comes along. Well, at least while I'm feeling off.  I'm actually hoping to meet someone who's into abaya burning womens lib activity....that should make life exciting.


My driver, Noor, who is actually just a taxi driver, but we use him more often than anyone else, so I call him my driver, because people here just seem to presume that, being an expat woman, I will have a driver....Noor said to me the other day, You are becoming like a Saudi lady mame....Lazy.

Bloody cheek!..  I could have been offended but unfortunately, he was right.

Noor comes from Pakistan.  He showed us photo's of his village one day....the only men in the photos were old men as well as women and children.  He said most of the working age males are overseas working and sending money back.  He says about 600 of his fellow villagers live in Saudi. 

Anyone who enters Saudi has to be sponsored.  Glenns firm sponsored him.  The sponsor basically owns you when you enter the country.  Most workers have to hand over their passports and only leave when the sponsor agrees, even though leave is written in to their contracts.  (Glenn still has hold of his passport, and mine).  For Noor, and most taxi drivers, that means they generally go home every two years to see their families or wives and children.  It also means they walk on egg shells between those visits so they don't upset anyone, in case someone reports them to their sponsor, who decides to withhold their passports.

Noor is very tired right now....he's working very long days.  I asked him, 'What would your mother give me for my flu Noor?"  Although I'm a bit off color I'm still teaching English so I still see Noor most days.  I only have a few more lessons and want to get them done so I can take a break.  Noor is going to get me some real honey.  I'll let you know if it works.

He's looking forward to his trip home this year.  He gets married.  We're invited.


It would be very easy for me to get sucked into the Saudi daily schedule - sleep to late morning (or early afternoon) and have my day run totally late from then on, with dinner around 10pm.  This schedule was set due to the heat.  I will admit that the evenings are much more pleasant than the middle of the day. 
It is harder for Glenn to make that schedule because the office runs on western hours, 9am-6pm.  He needs his beauty sleep.


Just lately I only wake up when Glenn gives me a see you later kiss on his way out.  We don't have kids to get off to school, which also tend to follow western hours, so there is no real reason for me to have to get up in the morning.


Pharmacies in this region can dish out all sorts of drugs without me needing a prescription.  Is that good?

I was given ear drops in Salalah which, being anti-medicine and pro-alternatives, I only took for a few days until we got home and I could get my hands on the garlic in my cupboard.  Glenn was less than impressed this arvo when he found I wasn't still on the drops.  I can't imagine why he was so upset....


Recently I visited a ladies health center which has a gym and aerobic classes, spinning etc.  It looks great.  YJ would love me to join with her.  If we are staying another year, I probably will.  So far, I have only signed up for the pilates, which is twice a week at 10am.  I'm glad for the other two ladies on the compound who are also going,  They have dragged me out to the last couple of sessions.  Being sick I don't really want to go, but am forcing myself. 

I'm sure it's for my own good.

Our compound is small so we don't have the events organiser that other places do.  We have to organise our own fun, which tends to include a lot of coffee and cake...not good for the thighs.  We have another lunch tomorrow.  Shall I go?  Will see how I feel.


I've been invited to join an organising committee for something....but nah....that sounds like having to be involved.

One friend has been encouraging me to volunteer at the schools.  You get paid for volunteering, which actually totally negates the concept of volunteering if you ask me, but hei aha.  Problem is I have to up to catch the bus by 7am....forget it.  Besides, I don't have any kids at school....


Since being unwell I have found it impossible to even drag myself up to the local supermarket to buy milk and bread.   It's too hot, it's too far (not), I'm too tired, I won't make it back before I pass out....etc, etc.

The guys at Glenns work wonder if the heat is getting to me or if I'm depressed.  Or both.  Apparently that happens to a lot of women here.  Or am I just down because I'm sick??  Whatever, this last week I've simply lost my mojo...I need a dream, a goal, something to get me excited and motivated, that's what Glenn says.  He found his new dream the other day - a Harley.  I'm guessing that was the reason for his little speech of encouragment.  Men are motivated by such simple things.  I think I'll feel a lot better once I can breathe properly, that would be nice...


Whatever I do here I know it's going to involve lots of other women.  Everything is women only this, women only that....God for some mixed company when we're out and about.  I think, actually, that I have a lot more testosterone in my body than other females and I am missing the men.

And I want to drive the bloody car myself.

After reading this through to check for spelling mistakes I've come to the conclusion I need to cultivate more happy thoughts.

How about this.....
I detest being sick.  I look forward to being healthy and well.

Ka Kite,

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