Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to Become an Intolerant, Racist Asshole in One Easy Step

Step One: Work in Qatar.

I would make a joke about how tired my arms were after flying in from Doha, but I wouldn't be joking.  It took almost three days after I landed in Denmark to stop feeling like I had just spent 48 hours on spin cycle.

I was due to fly out in the wee hours of the 20th, and the 19th was one of those days that will go down in infamy as "If It Can Go Horribly Wrong, It Will and the Timing Will Be Impeccable."

First, the internet went on holiday, which is why the resulting events of the day took 3 times as long.

We discovered late late late on the 18th/in the wee hours of the morning of the 19th that people needing to leave Qatar needed an exit visa.  This can only be gotten via the Qatar Moron Authority's man-who-deals-with-visas-but-apparently-has-never-seen-one-before-in-his-life-which-is-why-we'd-all-been-issued-the-wrong-freaking-visas-even-though-he-was-in-charge-of-getting-us-visas-LAST-YEAR-so-how-could-it-be-a-completely-foreign-concept-to-him who ended up being on vacation IN SUDAN.  Since it was a holiday in Qatar, just trying to figure out WHO needs to get us exit-visas, WHAT do we need to get an exit-visa, WHERE is the man who will get us exit-visas, and WHEN IS HE GETTING BACK took ALL DAY.  Remember, myself and two others were getting on a plane at 2:55 AM, aka less than 24 hours from when all this was happening, so we were justifiably apprehensive.  The poor guy who was supposed to be on a flight on the morning of the 19th who was not allowed to leave Qatar (and thus the reason we discovered about this exit visa thing) was LIVID.  He's trying to get back to the UK for Christmas and as the airports were shutting one by one he was sitting in a hotel waiting to get his exit visa watching his chances of getting home vanish before his eyes.

We drove to Doha at 6 PM with the idea that maybe we might be able at some point to leave the country.  We were then in a car accident, because what is better than having to deal with one bureaucratic nightmare than TWO!  The Nissan Exterra was undamaged (well, we did get hit by a Ford Escort, which I know from experience are horrible little cars), we were only bumped, but we had to go to the police station and stand around for a while, during which the Qatari tried to blame us for being in the way when he crossed 3 lanes of traffic to exit the round about.  Yes, you horrible fat man, so sorry for being in your way, I am SO AWARE my position in the pecking order is below you and that it is my job to improve your country without disturbing you in any way, especially by getting in your way when you drive your little crap car like it's the freaking Indy 500!  My job was to look pregnant and American (HA HA! You need us to buy your gas and protect you from Iran, you fool, so don't piss off the hormonal chick in the maternity gear), which must have worked because we were let go without incident.  We all wished we could go and get rip-roaring drunk at that point, but we couldn't.  I was ready to get a pet pig, name it Mohammed, dress it in a burka and parade it through Doha before ritually sacrificing it to the God of Abraham, bathing in it's blood and having me a bacon sandwich.  Hormones, remember?

So we went to the souk to eat Indian food.  Just as our food came (at 10 PM because of the accident palaver), we got the call to go to the Qatar Moron Authority main building (newly finished, which means 50% of the building is non-functional, including some of the ladies' loos) because the vacationing visa man had come back to Qatar and was going to go into the office and get us exit visas.  I have never eaten Indian so fast in my life.  I had the worst acid reflux for hours afterwards.  Pregnancy, Indian, and speed eating do not mix (you can have two of the three, but not all three).  Eventually we made it to the airport in time with exit visas in hand.  Because Al (the poor Brit) had to reschedule his flight, he still had several hours to wait while we got through with no problems.  (He did make it back to England and had a lovely Christmas with family and friends.)

By the time the Danish Boy picked me up in the rental car, I'd been awake for 38 hours (I'd even worked a full day that day, moving finds crates and objects around the compound and had gotten no afternoon nap).  I'd gotten some cat naps in on the flights, but I also needed to keep getting up to pee, keep the circulation in my legs going, eat, drink water, stretch, get off my bum so that I don't get hemorrhoids again (too much information? sorry), etc.

The DB took me back to his brother's Copenhagen apartment to sleep while he ran around delivering Christmas presents.  I slept 8 hours, was woken for dinner, slept another 8 hours, was awoken to run out and buy a new old Volvo (more on that in a second).  I then drove the new old Volvo in the snowy and icy conditions back to Ærø where I pretty much collapsed and slept another 8 hours, according to the DB I didn't move once I laid down.  He even managed to vacuum and I didn't so much as budge.  I remember none of this, being asleep at the time.

I got up on the 22nd and began to run around like a loon - I bought the DB's Christmas present, food (seriously, the man had eaten us out of everything in the house - but then again, he had been busy WREAKING THE CAR - see below), and made it to a midwife appointment before everyone (BIL and GF, SIL, MIL and MIL's dog) arrived for Christmas.

Before I left Qatar, I got a call from the DB that began with "I'm fine.  I'm not at all hurt.  And I'm really sorry."  He was driving back from an interview on Thursday, the 16th, when he lost control of the Volvo in the slush and ice and spun into a clump of trees.  The Volvo did exactly what it was supposed to do and which is why we will never buy anything but Volvos ever again and he walked away without scratches or even bruises.  Even the trees were fine.  But the car was a total loss.  It could have been fixed, but it would have cost far more than it was worth and almost as much as the cost of a newer Volvo station wagon in better condition.  We know because we just bought one.  The DB also pointed out that our old Volvo was due for a major re-haul this spring, which also would have cost more than the car (we were really not looking forward to that bill), so in the end the accident may have saved us some money.  I don't particularly care - I'm just so thankful that the Volvo did what it was supposed to do and saved the father of my unborn child from harm.  That's why we bough a Volvo (although HE insists it is the for the huge powerful engine), it's impeccable safety record.  I would have been heartbroken to have to sell it for scrap just because we couldn't afford to overhaul the engine or something, but to have it go out in a blaze of glory and validate it's very purpose of being was a death anyone would be proud of.

So we drove out from Copenhagen yesterday to a farm where a mechanic who's got a degenerative bone disease was selling his Volvo (he couldn't get in or out of the car comfortably any more, but had kept his Volvo in pretty good condition for a 15 year old car).  It's back to stick-shift, I'm afraid, but it's nice to know that we have a newer Volvo to protect us as we drive around Denmark.

It was very useful, for example, when I braved the Blizzard on the 23rd to pick up our free-range duck from the butchers.  But that's a Christmas story for another post...


  1. Anonymous6:44 PM

    Glad you are safe :) xxx

    'Babs' xx

  2. Wow, what a stress. I'm glad you are all safe and sound with no blood vessels bursting or sacrificial pigs. ;)

  3. Anonymous10:17 PM

    Don't know about you, but that post left me exhausted! Phew. Glad all is well, albeit on the other side of a harrowing, acid refluxing journey :)

  4. I am now in love with Volvos for saving the DB.


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