It grows on you…

So how does a boy, born in Anchorage Alaska, find his way to the desert?You’re probably thinking that I’m talking Arizona or someplace like that. Nope. Oman. Just south of Saudi Arabia.How’s that for desert!Mukhaizna

This is where I live half the year. It’s split up, 5 weeks on and 5 weeks off, but it adds up. It all started innocently enough, the boss asked if I had a passport. I, like the fool I am, said ‘Yes, but I think it has expired.’ He asked if I could find it, and I said that I would. I figured that I would be going to Mexico, as that is where the two jobs we had were. He told me which client it was and I knew it wasn’t going to be Mexico. I asked him where the job was, and he replied ‘Oman’. Now I consider myself to be fairly well educated, but I had no idea where Oman was.

I looked it up. Hmm… Middle East? Is this safe? What will the wife say?

Turns out that she saw it as an opportunity that I needed to take advantage of. We talked a little more about it and what it would mean to the family. Before we had the chance to get much further, I got a phone call from the gent that I would be working for overseas.

He asked if I could bring my passport to him that evening, so he could get the thing updated in plenty of time for my flight out. Flight out? Geeezzz, they don’t want to waste any time, do they?

I told him I would start looking for it ASAP, and let him know the status of it as soon as I find it. Well, I did find it, and within 30 minutes. Now I consider this a minor miracle seeing as how I have not laid eyes on it in 12 years! So the long and short of it is this. The passport was still active (up to 15 years) but had expired (after 10 years) so it needed to be renewed and not a new one obtained. I called the client back to let him know and made arrangements to get it to him the following morning.

So it was… I had to get a new passport photo made and sent it and the passport to the clients office. the travel department sent my passport with a ‘runner’ (that’s not why they call them that, but it’s what they do) to the passport office to renew my passport. I got it back in 3 days and at the same time, gut an email from the client that I would need shots and to go to this clinic. I’m not sure which hurt worse, my arms after 7 shots and an TB skin test, or my wallet after paying the $650 clinic bill.

Just 2 days left and I need to find out how long I’ll be over there. Have to shop for international power adapters, get a suit case, things like that…

I called the client to get some sort of feel for the length of time I’ll be there and he told me it should be a short 3 week project. No problem there. I’ll be back before I’m missed! Famous last words.

The day of departure arrived! One of the people I had worked with in the past was taking the same flight to Oman, and I was to meet him at the airport. We did meet up, and this was not his first trip out there (lucky me, he knows what to do..).

It takes 2 days for go from home to Muscat by air, although there is a 9 or 10 hour (depending on daylight savings time) difference, it’s still a long journey! We made it to Muscat, and eventually to the hotel. Leaving on Wednesday, put us in Muscat Thursday evening. Friday we hung around the hotel and did nothing. I was unaware that the weekends over here are Thursday and Friday. We went to the Muscat office on Saturday and meet with the engineer for the project. I didn’t seem like it was going to be that much of a problem to handle. We went out to the site the next day. At the airport, I was a little amused that the flight was branded as an Occidental flight, even though it was Oman Air that was running the service. I wasn’t expecting the ATR-42 (google it), nor was I expecting open seating. They really should tell a fellow before he makes an ass of himself. We landed at the airport at site. Dirt runway and all. Something else I did not expect, but grew to accept. Go to and put in these coordinates, 19.360061,56.456337 and that is where I am. You will probably have to zoom in some to see the camp, and that image is about 2 years old. If you scan towards the North West, you will see a long red strip that is the airport runway.

Now that you can get a feel for what there is around here, I’ll continue…

I started looking at what the engineer said was being needed, reviewing the PLC code and determined there was no way in hell this was going to work. I am a Senior Engineer in the Oil and Gas field. I should know what will and what won’t work by now. The Project Engineer was not happy. He told me there was a planned shutdown in 8 days and that was not able to be canceled. I ended up re-writing the code and still made their deadline for the shutdown.

I’ve been here for 1 year and 6 months on this little 3 week project. Fortunately it has not been the same project but many. They like what I do and I like working out here as well.

It grows on you…

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