Friday, August 24, 2012

You Might Be an Expat if...you use a turn signal!

A couple of weeks ago, we finally completed the nerve racking task of buying a car in Saudi!  Here at KAUST there is free public transportation with buses arriving at each stop every 15 minutes.  Inexpensive taxi service and shuttle buses to Jeddah make it almost unnecessary to own a vehicle at KAUST.  Again, that's almost!  Carrying groceries home for a family of six, missing buses when trying to get to playdates, traveling to Jeddah for orthodontist appointments (Oh, by the way Cici gets braces this week!)  and trying to shop in Jeddah for a family of six all made it a lot more enticing to purchase a car.

Purchasing a car in a country full of death defying drivers poses the challenge of finding a reasonably priced, used vehicle that was in reasonably good condition. Kent was fortunate enough to have a friend at work who is Saudi who helped negotiate the price and arrange for a mechanical inspection before we got it.  Even then, the Ford Explorer (minivan's are hard to find here) we ended up buying didn't have any seat belts on the 3rd row seat and we didn't realize that until after Kent bought it and brought it home.  We are still trying to find out how to get the seat belts installed.  People here don't always wear seat belts.  I've seen mothers bouncing their babies in the front seat on a highway where people can't agree on whether there are 3 or 4 lanes of high speed traffic.  (Traffic lane markings are just considered road decor here!)

Paying for the car was interesting because they don't do financing here the way they do in the states.  Some people take a suitcase full of cash to pay for their car, but we didn't like that idea.  Kent's friend help him figure out how to wire the money to pay for the car and then Kent had to go back to Jeddah to pick it up when the cash was recieved. 

Last night as we were driving back from Jeddah we came up with a new take on Jeff Foxworthy's "you might be a redneck if" jokes.  We call them "You might be an Expat if..." jokes and the first one was inspired by the fact that some drivers here see a turn signal as a sign that tells the driver behind you, "I'm getting ready to slow down a little so you better hurry up and pass me and cut me off so you can get where you are going before you are highly inconvenienced by a slight reduction in your speed!"  But, hey - we're expats - we use turn signals!

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