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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Finally, the last post from Oman. It’s the afternoon of June 25th and our plane departs on the 30th at 10:30PM. It’s a 24-hour trip (because why should they make it easy for us). We fly Muscat to Amsterdam with one hour spent on the tarmac in Doha. Then about a 4-hour wait. Then Amsterdam to Paris. Then about a 4-hour wait. And then, finally, Paris to Toronto.

We arrive at about 4:15PM on the 1st and I can’t have anything to eat after midnight because I have my heart test the next morning. I find out the results on the 8th and that will determine “the plan”.

If no surgery is required Shujie and I are going to go on an Alaskan cruise. I’ve always wanted to go and Shujie has never been on a cruise. We saved some money this year so why not throw it away? Of course surgery could change everything including working in Kurdistan. Isn’t it great to have no control over your future? (No, it’s not).

We do nothing all day. We just have to stay here until the end of the month. Last Friday we went to the resort where I drank too much and then attacked the buffet. I was throwing up food I hadn’t even eaten. Tomorrow we are going for our final visit but I think it will be a non-drinking night.

I sold my car and it’s gone. I sold it to Ayoob, the person who supposedly helps us with apartment problems. I just mentioned in passing to him if he wanted to buy my car and the price was so good he jumped all over it. Of course, every 5 minutes he was trying to get me to lower my price and I would just tell him that I didn’t have to sell it and he was getting the best price possible (and it is a good deal). I didn’t know but I’m his friend and his brother (he told me). Yesterday when the official change of ownership was about to happen he’s still trying to save a few extra dollars. He’s not evil, just annoying.

Last week we had our last “official” meeting of the English department. Another waste of time. The head of the department thanks all these people, then they announce the people who are not returning (yeah), I got a pink clock for my efforts and then they had a meal (I left). It’s been an experience.

Before I gave my car to Ayoob I had asked Omar if he could lend me a car and he assured me he had 2 sitting around and he could lend me one. When I asked him yesterday he told me he would call me later. He didn’t call. I sent him a message asking him what was happening and he said he sold his car (I thought he had 2 to lend) and he couldn’t lend me a car. He wasn’t man enough to phone me and he lied about lending me a car. If he wasn’t sure, he should have never said yes. So Omar, who I always spoke so highly of, is now in my black book.

The heat is deadly and the apartment is warm. I think the air conditioner needs to be cleaned but we’ll be gone in 5 days so I won’t worry about it. I’m trying not to worry about anything and I just can’t seem to see anything beyond July 8. I’m sure with my luck it will be nothing.

You can only take 1 suitcase overseas now. You have to pay for a 2nd suitcase. These airlines are criminals. Their prices are sky high (naturally since they fly in the sky), and they nickel and dime you. I think back to 9/11 when the airlines couldn’t do enough to get your business. So airlines are only fair and decent when terrorists get involved. What a world.

I’ve been reading a lot and I think I’m getting tired of reading. Maybe because it’s not a choice, it’s just one of the few things I can do. We watch a movie at night (still) and I will sometimes watch two. I need a new hobby. I’m becoming an expert at lethargy.

So it’s Kurdistan or surgery recovery. I think I’ll take Kurdistan. Kurdistan means seeing Turkey (it’s a stone’s throw away) and possibly a visit to Israel. It would be great to go back there again. It’s the most beautiful country. If I’m alive, I’ll probably post in a couple of weeks and with any luck next semester it will be “Adventures in Erbil”.

 

What the hell is “whey”. Was that from the famous “Frampton Comes Alive” album, “Show me the way”? What are Kurds? I believe they are people in a region of northern Iraq (the safe part) that are participating in a growing economy.

C’mon, admit it, you’ve always wanted to go to Iraq. Weekends in Baghdad dodging car bombs. Kidnap insurance. Spice up your life.

I had an offer at Beijing University in Zhuhai in China. The money is decent, and the school has a good reputation. I had an offer in Erbil (Kurdistan) where the money is okay (better than China) but there is a job for Shujie. (I’ve done China so I’d rather do something new). We wouldn’t be working at the same school. She’d be at a primary or middle school, kicking butt, taking names, enforcing discipline, dealing with teacher’s issues, and making sure the bathrooms are clean. She thinks it will be interesting and it just might be. She likes kids and she likes to talk. Her salary doesn’t compare to mine, but combined it will be our highest paid year.

Pay. What a killer. When I started this in China I made $1000 a month and I was happy. It was enough but as time goes by you start to chase the money, which is a touch absurd because you came here to escape the money and have fun. At least it’s a different culture and I’ve read good things about Kurds. You hear terrible things about the school when you check the online forums but I don’t think you’re allowed to post unless it’s negative. You never know until you arrive.

It can’t be worse that this joke of a school. I will be teaching real students (instead of foundation students who just need to get to a certain level of English). I’ll teach English and other subjects in English. This appeals to me. They put us in a semi-detached home. This isn’t the gulf so no more “black crows” and I can go out and get a drink. I’ve been out 3 weekends in a row drinking copious amounts of Bloody Marys. It worries Shujie, but I need to escape.

Will my mother be thrilled, or even Shujie’s mother? I doubt it. The name “Iraq” strikes fear into the hearts of people. I must be crazy. It strikes adventure into mine. We’ve discussed it and the biggest selling point is jobs for both of us. I’m tired of Shujie having nothing to do (and so is she). China offers no opportunities for an old person like her (51) and there are millions of Chinese who will take the same job for peanuts and work hours and hours. It’s wrong.

Everything is paid for (house, utilities, transportation to and from school) and maybe some other things. There is no tax so we are paid in U.S.$ I believe. They pay our plane fare so no reimbursement (and that is good). So if we live, we might be able to save a few bucks. This is the first year ever that I’ve saved money. My secret—live in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do. Erbil is a larger city of about 1.3 million people so there will be things to do. We will probably dine out on weekends (or drink myself silly), but it’s an escape. Hey, (and yes it’s for horses), it’s different. Of course, even though we’ve taken jobs doesn’t mean we will change our minds. But at the moment, Kurdistan it is.

School is deadly. Boring. I’ve finished with my adult students (not really serious classes) and I only have 3 exams left to invigilate. Then I wait until June 30 before we can leave. We must stick around so I get all my money. It will be boredom central but my life the past few months has been boredom central.

I’m in the process of trying sell my car. Someone is coming at 10 this morning to look at it, and I have a potential offer from someone else. The first to “show me the money” wins the car. It’s a good deal and I’ll miss it. Maybe I’ll become an Iraqi driver.

I will miss a few of the people here. There are the usual collection of prospects and suspects. We’ve become friends with a couple of very nice ladies and we will miss them. People here (I believe) come here to die. It’s an easy job where you don’t have to give a damn. The Head of the Department is a total moron who just wants to build an empire. As these ladies explain it to me, they don’t care. They’re nearing the end of their careers, so they don’t want to work hard. I can live with that. Girls (and Martin) just want to have fun. If I didn’t want fun, I could have stayed in Toronto.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am so glad I came to Oman. I love the people (but hate the students as students). It’s a slower culture but you adapt and the people are much more friendly and helpful than people from the West. I’m learned a little about Islam and have a bit of an understanding and that’s good. Muslims (normal ones) are not evil terrorists. They believe different than we do but they seen to be “live and let live” people. I would have never known that if I didn’t come here.

The last week it’s been about 45C outside and that’s kind of tiresome. Erbil offers seasons. The average January temperature is between 1 and 6C, while the average July temperature is between 30 and 35C. I think that’s much more livable than here.

Only 25 more days until we depart but it will be a long and boring 25 days with not much to do. Don’t forget Elyse, Howard is barbequing in July 4th for our “welcome home and get out of here” dinner. Of course, maybe I’ll need heart surgery and then that throws everything off but I predict nothing.

That’s it and that’s the plan. We’re looking forward to it.