I have learned quite a few new lessons in the last few weeks.
Buying a car in Saudi Arabia is like walking through the desert, as you approach the top of one sand dune you hope to see your destination, but you only see another sand dune to walk over. I have been trying to purchase a car over the last 4 weeks. I am pretty sure I have signed more papers and put more work into this than I did when I purchased my last house. The first challenge was finding a car that fit our budget and worked for us. The requirements for a car were pretty easy, as big an SUV as we could afford. We looked at Jeeps, Fords, and Dodges, all too expensive. Finally, I went to the Mazda dealer and found a 2012 Mazda CX-9 with 0% financing. Awesome.
- Step 1 – Down payment. I wanted to put it on my American Express card. So I could get the points and pay it off next month since most of our money is in a bank in the USA. “do you take American express?” I asked. “Yes” said the salesman. Well, the truth was NO they don’t take American Express. After many fail attempts, I had them use my debit card from my Saudi Arabian bank account, then I called my US bank and informed them I wanted to put a large transaction through from Saudi Arabia. Finally, the full down payment was paid. Ohh, this took about a week and a half to get all sorted out over 3 trips to the dealership.
- Step 2 – Financing. Apply for financing. Pretty much all I did was sign. The form was in Arabic so I certainly couldn’t read it. For all I know, I agreed to give them my left kidney. The next day I got a call I was approved for 0% financing.
- Step 3 – Checks. The salesman told me I needed checks. For the 36 payments. Ok. No big deal. I know my bank will do electronic payments. But no. The car dealership needs all 36 checks. Physical checks. Now I need to open a checking account and order checks. That was easy. The bank is very helpful, except it took 1 week to get the checks instead of 2 days like they told me. Finally, all the checks arrived. Now I had to fill out all 36 checks and postdate them. I thought my arm was going to fall off.
- Step 4 – “Your car is ready come sign” said the salesman on the telephone. Whoorayyy…. I finally get my car. Nope, I have to sign 36 promissory notes for each of the 36 months I have my car financed.
- Step 5 – Wait… So today, I’m still waiting. They tell me my car will be ready tomorrow afternoon. Insha’Allah.
If you ever find yourself driving on the wrong side of the road, it is best to do it in a country where this is common place. They understand what to do. Honk the horn and get out of the way. Thursday evening we had a little extra time on our hands before dinner, it was prayer time, so we decided to take the scenic route. Somehow we ended up on the wrong side of the road on the divided highway. I was really confused when the cars were driving in my lane, so I honked. The first car I passed was a police car, but it just kept on going. It must not have bothered him that I was driving on the wrong side of the road. The next few vehicles honked their horns, but also got out of my way. Fortunately, we arrived at an intersection so we were able to get on the correct side of the road.
After the scary car ride, I was ready for dinner. We still had a little bit of time until prayer was over and the restaurant opened so we added our name to the list and waited for a table. We quickly ordered our meals, Kelsie a chicken wrap, chicken fingers for the kids, and I wanted a burger. Who did I want it done? Medium. Like I always order. Well, apparently that translates into rare. Reddish, pink, and cold on the inside. I couldn’t even bear to eat it. Guess, I’ll be one of those people who orders their burgers well done from now on. L
We finished dinner just in time for the last and final prayer of the day. This meant more waiting. First we had to wait for someone to let us out of the restaurant, since they close the curtains and lock the doors. They opened the curtain over the door and unlocked it, letting us out. Then closing it up tight after we were out. We slowly drove to our next destination for a little shopping, but still had to wait in the car until they opened up. Eventually we joined the line entering the store as the doors opened. Just as we got to the back of the store and were about to find what we were looking for, the lights went out. The store was pitch black, emergency lighting? Nope. We dug into our pockets and got our handy dandy cellphones out and used them as flashlights. This must happen regularly, because the employees were quite quick to get out flashlights and start wondering through the store. Guess it was no big deal so we kept shopping, but after wondering around for a few minutes an employee came by and told us to exit the store. We left our cart in the aisle and headed out, empty handed.
We really need to invest in Rosetta Stone Arabic. Wow, it’s expensive, but we really need to do it. Apparently, our blonde haired and blue eyed kids attract a lot of attention. And most of the attention comes from people who don’t speak English. It would be nice to be able to interact with people in their native tongue. There are also tons of crazy teenagers over here just like in the US, they run rampant. I am sure it would surprise them greatly if we were able to address them in Arabic and I’d really like to know what they are saying when they look at us and start chatting away
So… What have you learned this week?