Hello everyone! Brad here, I have officially "highjacked" Ambre's blog. I suppose it's my blog too ...through marriage though (a "step-blog?").
I want to first thank everyone for the kind thoughts, well-wishes, prayers, mojo etc... This has been a quite an adventure so far and one that hasn't always come easy. It's been a roller coaster ride, that's for sure.
But let's cut to the chase here...I've been here two weeks and you're probably wondering what life if like. Well that's a good question!
So far, it's been wonderful. I realize I'm probably in a "honeymoon" phase. That's probably not a good analogy...it's nothing like a honeymoon at all: I'm not with the person I love, not on the beach sipping daquiri's and no... 'hem..."love." But there is a beach here...and my love will be joining me soon. Maybe "rose colored glasses" is a better term? Ask me in a few months and I suspect things won't be as rosy as I acclimate more. But so far so good...wonderful in fact!
I'll do my best to give you a brief overview of what it's like so far....
We live in a camp called Ras Tanura. It's the second largest camp that Saudi Aramco operates. From my understanding, we have about 4,000 residents...all different nationalities. What makes our camp really special is that we're the only one on the beach. It's a very nice beach!
I'd say it's better then most beaches in the US. Is it a "pure blue and tropical" beach? Probably not...but close. It's been VERY windy since I got here and the water has been churned up and I realize it's not at it's most ideal state.
It's a very long beach and there is this wonderful boardwalk for the entire length of it. I've been walking or jogging that every evening since I got here. I can't wait for Ambre and the kids to come and stroll this path with me. I'm sure it will get old at some point, but for now, it's pretty darn amazing!
In the evernings, it's lit up and it's quite social with people and families all along the way playing and laughing and enjoying the nice cool air.
(Not sure why there aren't actually any people in this picture. Bad photography on my part.)
There is a lot to do on camp. LOT's of clubs and groups. It's probably a bit like a cruise ship in that aspect. You could keep yourself VERY busy here. The camp also has a lot of amenities. There are about 5 or 6 places to eat. Here is the beach side coffee shop:
I went and had breakfast one morning and the main café and it was really pretty good. Here's my breakfast (I can't believe I was "that" person taking pictures of my food...I've clearly marked myself as the newbie on camp):
(A mere 4 US dollars)
There is also a movie theater that shows two different movies a week. I haven't been yet but I will probably go soon.
Lots of various sporting fields:
(Can you see the beach in the background? Very cool!)
The splash pads are also very popular. They are positioned all around camp and always have a crowd of kids playing on them.
There's also a golf course, a yacht club, horse stables, a library and a bowling alley (too much to take pictures of). Plenty to keep you busy (and I'm sure I'm missing a few things...or maybe a dozen...I'm not known for my memory!)
There is a grocery store on camp as well. It is nicely stocked and should serve it's purpose.
Right outside our main gate is a "village" called Rahima. It is quite large and has a nice grocery store and a few restaurants. Many of the restaurants deliver to the camp as well.
But 40 minutes away is a much bigger city called Khobar. It has two very large malls and lots of restaurants. It has lots of familiar names like: Ikea, Pottery Barn, Gap, Body Shop etc...plus many American restaurants. There are three very nice grocery stores there...I think we'll be heading there two or three times a month just to restock on high quality items.
We are living in a home supplied by Saudi Aramco. It's a four-bedroom townhome that is probably in the neighborhood of 2,200 to 2,400 square feet.
Here's the front-
(I love our palm tree. It'll be great to decorate for Christmas.
Yes...we'll be decorating for and celebrating Christmas.)
We have a nice backyard with a patio. We really need to get a gardener and get some things planted back here. But it's big enough for the kids to play and stretch their little legs.
(Some people have BEAUTIFUL gardens.
Each house has a full sprinkler system to keep things nice and lush.)
I'll post some pictures of inside the house later. We don't have any of our furniture yet, only loaner furniture from Aramco. Right now it just feels like a big white box inside. Things will look better with some proper paint and all of our furniture...I'll post some pictures then.
The location of our house really rocks too. We are RIGHT NEXT to the elementary school where the kids will be going. It's a wonderful school with some really amazing programs. The kids can walk there, that's for sure, it wouldn't even be worth the bike ride.
(Not a very good picture of the school...but it will have to do.)
If the kids do have to ride the bus, this is what they take the school. I rode in one of these to a meeting and they are incredible...really posh inside. A tad overkill...but it gets the job done.
(Again, not a great picture. But up close, they look like some futuristic bus. It's a little intense.)
We are also RIGHT NEXT to a recreational center. It has a giant pool...at least Olympic size or better. Plus a little toddler pool (both of which are covered from the sun). There are two gyms (one for females and one for males), a rec room with pool tables/foosball/Ping-Pong/air-hockey and a nice covered playground-
This is our street. Right behind me is the rec center. At the end of the street is the beach...about a 2-3 minute walk.
I work in the Leadership Development Center. It is really one of the nicest training facilities I have ever been in. It's truly first class. Lots of technology, flexible working space for participants, a nice coffee bar...it feels very collegiate and collaborative. I'm probably not doing it justice...
I'm what's called a Leadership Development Advisor. I will be facilitating workshops, doing one-on-one coaching and advising on key leadership initiatives. It's been great so far. Everyone I've met has been wonderful...a real group of world class people.
The work-life balance so far has been wonderful. I work from about 7 am to 4 pm but come for an hour in the middle of the day for lunch. I've been riding my bike to work and it's about a 6 minute ride. When it gets hotter, I will probably drive a car or golf cart...about a 1 minute commute.
The amount of vacation time is also incredible. If are strategic with your vacation time, you can be out of the country for about 80 days a year...that's pretty incredible! I work with about 30-40 people and every day or so someone is coming back from a vacation...and man are they going places. The passports of some of the people over must be incredible. Definitely looking forward to that aspect of life over here...we LOVE to travel!
Here is me off to my first day at work. Not sure why the stupid face or pose...something weird happens to me when the camera flashes....I just can't be serious or something. My apologies to everyone for having to view this picture...
And that my friends, is the end of your tour! I will be coming on here from time to time and taking the blog hostage. I'd like to show you more pictures but also explain a little bit about why we're doing what we're doing. I know moving your family to Saudi Arabia isn't ordinary and I think I owe you all a little bit of an explanation...so more to come!
All I ask of you is two things:
- Please ask any questions you may have. I want to be as transparent as I can about life here and I'm sure I've missed some important aspect of our lives that you've been wanting to know. So ask away!
- PLEASE share this link with just ONE person that you know. We'd love to get to know some of your friends and for them to get to know us. Or simply post this link to your Facebook page. Either way, spread the word!
Thanks everyone...we love you all!
If you missed our BIG announcement about our move back in April check it out