5 am. My family is tucked in nicely upstairs, but I've been awake since 2:30. Better than yesterday. That was 1:30. Blame it on the girl. She woke me both times. Yesterday, I managed to keep her in bed for another two hours before she demanded to get up. Today I used my special mommy elixir, and she was asleep within the hour. Too bad I can't buy red wine till we get our residence permits. No elixir for me!
Jet lagging with a 3-year old in tow is a whole new experience. But there is something to be said for being wide awake at 5 in the morning. Since I am decidedly NOT a morning person, it's kind of nice to be up to enjoy the early daylight hours. It's light here by 5 in the morning. It's also dark here by about 5:30 at night, but that dark is welcome this time of year. We can swim at the pool after dinner without the sun blazing down on us. And slowly stroll around our little block, thankful for the air conditioning that awaits us.
Our flights went fabulously. Kaiya was in full director mode, lugging around her own adult-sized carry-on, and demanding to lead the way. Jeff and I were slightly frazzled, as evidenced by me leaving our boarding passes and passports at security. Sheesh! The flight from Toronto to Montreal left late, leaving us only about 30 minutes to walk a couple kilometers through the Montreal airport. Thankfully, they were looking for us, and a kind shuttle driver zipped us the rest of the way. We boarded a packed, very multicultural flight. Kaiya had one screaming freak-out right at the start, when we demanded she get her pull-up on, but the rest of the 12.5 hour flight was easy-peasy. Seriously. And we didn't even have access to our carry-on bags full of goodies. Since we were so late, the stowaways were full in economy, and we were gently forced to leave our bags in first class. But no matter. She slept most of the flight and spent the rest of the time watching Dora on her little screen or using my ipad. Phew! Jeff and I both had our own individual moments of panic about 3 hours into the flight. By that time, she was asleep, and so were we, but a few twitches from her, and we thought she was waking up. Both of us had moments of "What were we thinking?" But thankfully, she went right back to sleep.
We've quickly realized our little firecracker may be our best gateway into this new culture. Throughout our travels, so many men and women smiled her way, made comments about her precociousness (3 going on 15, huh?), and generally found her amusing. In the Doha airport, we got more of the same. Airport workers all smiled her way and spoke with her, and when I shushed her for her gregarious song-making, one woman remarked, "Oh, but they are such happy sounds." I'm definitely feeling a family-friendly vibe here. And that's good.
Oh, and just a note about the security in Doha airport... after the international shipper warned us about Qatar's "100% inspection policy" for shipped items, I was afraid the same might apply to our suitcases. Ha. I could have had a suitcase full of pork, and they wouldn't have known! Our carry-ons were passed through a scanner, but the two men working the machine were so deep in their conversation they hardly even glanced at the screen. And the room marked "customs" was filled with some stainless steel tables and nothing else. No people, no questions, no nothing. A breeze.
We've had a lot of hiccups here in our first day, and I'm looking forward to Jeff going to work tomorrow (yes, Sunday) to start slowly working through these matters. I knew it would be this way. Since the school is in Al-Khor, everyone employed by the school is living there, and so of course, the school's attention is focused there. Except for us. QAK (yes, that's the abbreviation... gotta love it) was very gracious in providing us with accommodations in Doha, since that is where I will be working. (And hey... it's the capital city and where all the action is at, so it's where we want to live) However, while we love our villa, with its 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, it definitely is lacking in some of the essentials we were promised. I won't make a list here, mostly because I don't want to worry my mother. :) At this point, the only one that is really a concern is the non-functioning stove. And no cell phones, so no ability to call a driver if we need one. But the cell phone issue, at least, should be resolved soon. I'm in contact with my employer, and it looks like they may be dropping one off soon.
I'm not overwhelmed with first impressions. I think this is partly due to me having been here last June, but mostly due to the fact that I'm very mindful of the 3-year old in my care. This adventure is so completely different than the Japan chapter. Of course they are totally different countries in terms of culture and climate, but both Jeff and I feel that at this point, most of the difference is because of Kaiya. Our trip to the grocery store yesterday was that much more overwhelming because of the severely sleep-deprived little girl we were caring for. Caring for! "Managing" would be a better expression, I think! I just have to remind myself that my usually meticulous style of searching the aisles and inspecting each new product will have to be temporarily put on hold. Till we're in a regular sleep pattern. And I have a cell phone. And I have better access to a driver/my own vehicle. And it's not Ramadan, so we're not scurrying around before the store closes... You get my drift!
Well, it's now after 6, so I think I'll sign off. I would like to leave you with pictures, but we haven't yet figured all this out! We do have wireless though, so we'll have to try using Skype soon. Take care, everyone!