!!!WARNING!!! This is going to be quite a long post covering several changes to our life out here that have either happened this year or are going to happen soon. I'll try to seamlessly link them all together for your reading enjoyment.
So, it all starts with a change of status. Eloise's company classifies each employee working overseas as either Single status or Married status, each of which has different terms and conditions particularly with regard to benefits and living arrangements, and until the start of this year Eloise was on a single status contract.
Hold on I hear you say, didn't she get married prior to taking the job in Qatar? Yes she did, I can testify to that, but when it came to signing her contract for this project she was given the choice of which to sign. There are pros and cons to both, but the better holiday allowance (among other things) meant it made sense to go single status. The downside was that the company didn't recognise me in terms of health insurance and flights home etc. But I'm not the important one here.
So why did she change status. Well, just before Christmas the camp at the site where Eloise works was completed, and all single status people moved there to live. Now Eloise had the foresight to have it written into her contract that she wouldn't be sent to the camp, but the company still gave her an ultimatum; stay single status and move to the camp, change to married status and stay living in Doha, or leave the project and go home.
Clearly the first wasn't an option what with me being here, and we weren't quite ready to give up and come home, so we reluctantly agreed to go married status. But rather than dwelling on the down-side of being married status, I'd rather talk about some of the positives.
-------------------------First up, it means we get a car all to ourselves and I'm allowed to drive it, whereas previously it was shared between 3 single status people (which made it a nightmare to negotiate having it) and I wasn't insured to use it so Eloise had to do all the driving.
Actually, it's even better than that; we get the choice of the car provided by the company or a monthly allowance to buy our own. As the company car (a Nissan Altima) isn't really adequate for the driving conditions here we opted for the allowance and bought ourselves a second-hand Jeep Cherokee;
It turns out to be pretty tough as well; a Nissan truck went into the back of it the other day and didn't make a scratch (since he hit rear-mounted spare wheel). The Nissan didn't come off so well, with the whole front section crumpling on impact. That'll teach him to look where he's going!
(Oh yes, and you probably don't want to know this what with the price of petrol in the UK so high at the moment, but despite have a 3.7l engine it costs less than a fiver to fill it up!)
-------------------------So that's the new car covered. Next up, the new dog. Yep, that's right we've got ourselves a dog!
Following my first trip to the animal shelter for the sponsored walk we've both been up there several times to help out with walking the dogs, and the temptation got too much so we have fostered Camy, an 8/9 month old Saluki mix who was found abandoned on a beach in a nearby town;
We couldn't have done this while Eloise was on single status as her holiday cycle meant we wouldn't have been around enough to look after a dog properly.
Note that we have only fostered her until a permanent home can be found for her. We would have adopted her but bringing her back to the UK would mean 6 months in quarantine, which we don't think is fair on the dog.
We've had her 4 weeks now and she's settling in very well, and we love having her around.
-------------------------So to the final change in our lives out here, which hasn't actually happened yet, but hopefully by the end of the month we'll have moved into a villa on a compound near the golf course (most villas are on compounds here).
Getting a villa is one of the other perks of married status, but to be honest we'd probably have opted to stay in the apartment block if it wasn't for the dog. She's very nervous of all the vehicle and construction noise around our current place, which makes taking her for a walk very difficult (so we normally drive to some nearby desert/scrub land leading down to the sea). Having a villa in a quite compound with it's own garden will make life much easier for her and us!
There are other benefits too; the compound has better facilities - bigger swimming pool, tennis and squash courts - and it's 15 or so minutes nearer to Eloise's work, which will shave at least half an hour off the 2 and half hours journey time she currently does each day, which makes a big difference when you're working such long hours!
There are aspects of our apartment we'll miss - the view, the central location - but we've been here over a year so it'll be nice to have a change.