July 8, 2007
I left my family at the Departures Lounge of Edmonton International Airport and headed for a plane that would take me to the UK … and finally Saudi Arabia. The first steps of my two year adventure were taken with a heavy heart, a sense of excitement, and more than a couple of tears in the eyes of many.
July 8, 2015
I have been fortunate to call Dubai home for the last three years, after nearly five years in Saudi. That two year adventure seems to have snowballed out of control.
The first picture of me in Saudi Arabia. August 2007
Eight years! That’s a long time and yet, in the grand scheme of things, not a long time. I ventured out here with eyes wide open and mind even more so. I wanted to form my own thoughts, draw my own conclusions, see things from my own unique perspective. While it hasn’t always been sunshine and fucking rainbows; the good days far outweigh the bad. The positive wonderful experiences far outweigh the negative ones.
I’ve experienced cultures I knew nothing about. I’ve seen sights I never would have imagined. I’m on my third passport since I arrived and am already planning ways to fill up the pages in this one. I’ve seen 20 different countries since I’ve been here. That number could be higher but I keep getting drawn back to several of them.
I have found warmth, humility, compassion, laughter, and friendship on shores that were completely alien to me. I have made bonds that will last forever with some of the most wonderful and genuine people I have ever met. People from all over the world! I have friends from over 100 different countries! Not sure I can find them all on a map but I have heard of them.
And yes, I do miss family and friends from back home. I still miss the everyday things I took for granted. I miss paying too much for petrol. I miss having a Coke slushee from 7-11. I miss having to complain about the Edmonton winter – now I complain about the Dubai summer. But every time I miss something, I think of something else I can see for the first time. And that keeps me going.
Certainly I could have had adventures at home. Different adventures from the ones I’m having now. But for me, a great part of leaving home was to get out of the rut I was in. Life was good. Very comfortable. Great friends, the best family a guy could ask for. I was being offered good jobs. Only two days before I got on a plane I played my last soccer game with a group of guys I had known for years. We won 5-1. I scored two. Ended the season as the league’s top scorer despite playing only half the season. Thankfully the team went on to win the provincial gold medal (which they presented me when I returned to visit for the first time in 2009).
So I needed this move as much for my mind as I did for my spirit. And even though there have been moments of loneliness, doubt, frustration, and annoyance; I would not change my decision to come out here. I’ve loved. I’ve lost. I’ve succeeded. I’ve failed. And I continue.
One of many wonderful sunsets sinking into the desert
On my first road trip to Qatar. Didn’t even notice this guy as I was filling up my tank with petrol. He later tried to chew my hair.
So, eight years. Not sure how much longer my Dubai/Middle East adventure will last, but I’ll squeeze the best out of it. My sister told me once, and I think this is very apt, that when I “left Edmonton I was still very much a boy. Not anymore.” Not after all the experiences and the learning I’ve done. I am so much wiser for it. This has been, and continues to be, the greatest education I have ever received.
The iconic Burj al Arab. I see this everyday on way to and from work
And the most recent pic of me. Haven’t really changed much in 8 years. Except for the grey hairs.
If anyone wants to ask a question or two about specifics of my time, I would be more than happy to answer them in the comments section.