Monthly Archives: December 2014

Joe’s visit

My man is in town, and we’ve been having a great time.  We’ve done so much that it’s hard to tell you all about it.  So, I will blast you with photos because, well, that’s what it’s all about. Here’s an outline to help you out.

Dubai —  I had to work his first two days here, so we hung out at my place, but on his third day we headed for the big city. Mail AttachmentJumeirah beach photo station

DSC06158 Sangria by the pool

DSC06151 Spent a good chunk of a day discussing philosophy and world politics with our South African bartender in an “American” bar

DSC06148 DSC06136 My big man meets the burjDSC06134 Sandmen!DSC06140 DSC_0324the Dubai fountains before they perform DSC_0313 View from the tallest building in the worldDSC06102 DSC06089 DSC06064 DSC06050 Santa at the ski area in Emirates Mall

DSC06033um, this window display makes me wonder what’s above not below my bed!

Christmas:  We went to the pork store and bought Westphalian ham, french ham and, you know, yummy pork products for our Christmas eve buffet.  Shannan and Lisa came over, and after getting bored with watching the fire crackle on the t.v. screen we watched Trains, Planes and Automobiles (Does “those aint pillows” ever get old?).  Next day, we went to watch my carpool buddy’s husband compete in an international equestrian show (where I didn’t take a single photo — what was I thinking?!).  Both days were lots of fun — best way to spend my first Christmas away from home

. xmas3 xmas2 10868278_10205820071966755_5331708340167006196_nphotos taken by Lisa or Shannon, Joe took the last one

xmas1see those paintings on the wall … they’re finally hung thanks to Joe!  He bought me a drill, so I can make holes in these concrete walls — yee haw!  More art to be bought and hung.

The wild west and camel fest:  The western region of Abu Dhabi is rural, and more conservative than Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  It’s more remote location borders Saudi Arabia.  Every year about this time in Madinat Zayed is the Al Dhafrah Camel Festival, which celebrates Bedouin heritage, but is mostly known for its camel beauty contest, which holds lucrative prizes for the winners.  We booked a room for one night at the Mirfa hotel on the coast, but ended up spending two nights there because we had way more fun than anticipated.  You just never know who you will bump into in the middle of the desert, but from our experience it’s all good

. DSC_0431Our guide is also a freshmen at ASU.  His family’s camels came in second place last year, and he’s home on break.  In a few days he’ll be back in Arizona studying chemical engineering.  To my kids and former students, say hi to him if you run into each other on campus!

DSC_0376This man’s beauties were feisty, but they seemed to love him. DSC_0407 watch this, she doesn’t suspect a thing…DSC_0409 camel kiss! DSC_0334 I floss!DSC_0331

DSC_0315 hahaha the camel is like what is your problem?10868110_10205848256111341_7136676406049179811_nWe got to sit on thrones and drink Arabic coffee while waiting for our personal tour guide.  How cool is that?

10888879_10205854825315567_8076258252273300060_nOur rooms weren’t ready yet, so we went into the hotel pub for lunch.  Um, we didn’t leave until many hours later, but we did make new friends with a Finn and a Scott.  I believe a man from Poland took this photo for us.

10888596_10205837439160924_7262348456062304010_n 10420782_10205837436480857_1023469910066742670_n 10891783_10205837435200825_3462452403578316491_n Jenga and pool games!  541603_10205854825675576_4630327988748687093_n DSC06216Camel bling at the souk. Sunrise photos taken by Lisa. Um, I was still sleeping

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Absolutely love the tranquility of this beach.  I’ll be back when I need time to just chill and breathe.

My man taking a moment to contemplate all the food we just consumed at a brunch buffet at the Liwa hotel, which is stunning (sorry didn’t take much photos there). DSC_0433 Our time together has been wonderful.  We have just a few more days together, and then it’s back to him working on one continent and me another, but we’ll meet again somewhere else on this planet come July.  Good news is he’s totally cool with making the big move after he retires next year.  I see many, many wonderful travels in our future! Before then, though, we have some more sightseeing to do here.  We’re not going to Dubai for New Years.  Instead, we opted to join friends on a desert safari/camping trip.  I’m sure a good time will be had by all. Click here if you want to see more photos…

Weddings and whatnot….

1470041_10205716109247752_6221693281796722286_nHenna hands (belonging to Lisa) and feet (mine) all glamored up for a wedding. There’s so much of my life here that I will never be able to show you, but I guess that goes for life anywhere really.  We can only give glimpses.  You already know I can’t show you pictures of women uncovered, which makes today’s entry a tough one for photos — although I’ll show you food. Emirate weddings are celebrated separately.  Men whoop it up in one room while the women do their thing in another one.  It’s a weird concept for westerners, but it works here.  This is the second wedding I’ve been invited to simply because of where I work, but I felt like I had to go to this one.  The bride and I have never met, but she is well loved by the other teachers.  I’m told she’s witty and sweet and just the most-deserving woman, but that’s not why I went. I went because a group of local teachers came to us earlier in the week to let us know how horrified they were about the murder that took place a few weeks ago.  “This is not us,” they said.  “It is against God.”  And, best of all, the heart felt “we are mothers too …. you are our sisters.”  They also reminded us of the wedding, and that it was on a Friday night, so we could stay up late and not have to worry about work the next day.  “Bring your friends, come have fun.” So, I did.  I wanted to experience a local wedding, and I wanted to show my Emirate sisters that, yes, I do want to bond and have fun with them.  I don’t know how much bonding we did, but again I am grateful to have been invited to be a part of their lives.  I was also so proud and touched when the math teacher I share students with grabbed my hand and pulled me across the room to meet her family.  I might actually speak more Arabic than she does English, but through facial expressions and body language we warn one another when a class is being good or bad — especially the one group that loves to test us.  We really like each other even though we don’t know much about each other.  Now, I’ve met two of her daughters, a sister, and her son’s wife.  I’ll be sure to bring photos of my kids to show to her next week.  Why can’t it be this easy to connect worlds and families all of the time? Now as for the wedding I’ve discovered it’s not quite the same without the sparkly drinks, but there were cans of soda — so bubblies were there.  The women are stunning in their dresses, and it was shocking to see so much of their skin.  Those who decided to remain in their abayas did so in classy, beaded ones.  Servers came around and offered expensive perfumes, oud (perfumed smoke), chocolates (OMG I must be part emirate because they love chocolate and nuts as much as I do), an assortment of teas, food, you name it. 10675658_10205716105047647_5245999994023625582_n just one of the platters of chocolate that came around  2014-12-12 19.58.24Lukaimat, my favorite!  They’re served warm. I ate way more than 3. 10858369_10205716104287628_2339445989464915685_ni think this is lamb, not my favorite.  I stuffed myself with chocolates, lukaimat, hummus and salads, so it was totally true when I responded to “why you no eat?” with “I am full from all the chocolate.”  The bride’s sister laughed and whispered back to me, “I like the chocolate too much too.” 2014-12-12 21.22.51a tapioca tea.  I liked it, and, of course, more chocolates! 2014-12-12 21.06.50jello, or as my British coworker calls it “jelly.”  This one baffled us because who serves jello at a wedding?  The only reason I can guess as to why this was served is because the bride went with a beautiful red and gold dress, so maybe it was meant to match her dress.  Oh well, I ate it.  tastes just like strawberry jello. Sorry I didn’t think to take pictures of the perfume and oud, which is a shame because they are in beautiful containers. So, basically, you eat and drink until the bride arrives.  When she does they lower the lights, play music and put a spotlight on her as she slowly walks down the aisle toward a golden throne for two.  Her dress and hair was absolutely gorgeous. emirati-weddingI totally nabbed this off the Internet, but the lady in red is wearing something similar to what our bride wore.  Picture taken from  http://www.arabiangazette.com/big-fat-global-wedding-industry/ The bride was so nervous.  My heart just bled for her, but she made it down the aisle, got hugged and kissed by I’m assuming the groom’s mother, swarmed by kids running after her, and cheered by her friends.  Later on abayas were swooped back on and her husband was brought down the aisle by I’m assuming his sisters.  He was so friendly and confident, just waving at all of us like a celebrity.  We liked watching him joke with his bride, and it looks like her nerves disappeared.  Friends and family walked up to wish them luck, the cake was cut, and that was about it. It’s different, but at the end of the day a wedding is a wedding.  We all want the new couple to be blessed with lots of love and happiness.  It looks like this one is off to a good start, so I’m glad I got to see it. 2014-12-13 07.57.35And me today kicking up my feet (and yeah showing off the lovely henna), writing you this while my curtains dance in the breeze, and loving the fact that I have free time to share all of this with you.  Hope you guys have a great weekend!

Do I have to go back to work?

I’m on the last day of having 5 days off.  Bummer.  For the most part it’s been a whole lot of fun.  I mean look how relaxed I am on this beach pic…

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I love this pic.  It just sums up some of what I love doing most — chilling by water with friends.  Wine and food on the beach with some more of my loved ones would make it even better.

Tuesday was National Day, so Lisa, my infamous neighbor, and I drove to Abu Dhabi to spend time with fellow Phoenicians Naomi and Kelley.  I absolutely love where they live, and sometimes I’m a little jealous.  But, my corner of the emirate has its pluses too.  Best part is we can all visit each other’s corners at times like this.

We went to the Corniche (beach area), watched an air show, relaxed, watched the cars honk and parade up and down the street, strolled and relaxed some more, and then the sun went down and the crazy string and shaving cream wars began.  It’s insane, but a lot of fun just as long as you stay on the family side of things.  Loved seeing families picnic all over the park with their grills and shisha.  The kids and moms had a blast spraying us, and we had fun spraying them.

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Our major lesson learned was that it’s best to stay on the family side because if you cross the street — at night — to the beach side when a free event is taking place, you just might find yourself on the single male side of things.  Their idea of fun with silly string and shaving cream is a little more brutal — especially when unsuspecting western women walk their way.  Nothing bad happened, and the best way to sum this up is to say I can now add getting assaulted by silly string to my list of shit I’d never thought I do.  We quickly made it back to the family side of things and decided to just watch the fireworks from their balcony versus the beach.

The next day was all about shopping, and then we headed home for a night’s rest before taking off to Dubai.

Here are a few more fun pics of the Abu Dhabi portion of this week’s trip.10389280_10205604744343699_447312307029142301_nDSC05861 DSC05832 DSC05782 colored smoke from planesDSC05768 DSC05731 DSC05726 the lovely CornicheDSC05771

The Dubai portion of trip was all about exploring new things.  Shannan and I went to our first rugby match, and it just happened to be during the Rugby Sevens, which seems to be a pretty big deal to rugby fans.  Yay us, we got to watch our girls kick China’s shins.  And let me just say this is not a sport for sissies — they beat each other down!

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We were pretty pleased to learn a few of the mens teams were staying at our hotel and that our hotel had a rooftop pool and bar, but then way disappointed to learn it was a juice bar — drinks looked awesome though.  So, yeah, we booked at possibly the only dry hotel in Dubai, but it’s all good because we were so tired when we got back to our room we passed out, which was good because the next day we were busy, busy, busy.

First we ate breakfast on a patio at a lovely french restaurant, then we learned how to use the Metro, and then we explored Dubai Mall (which was a first for me).

DSC05925 DSC05928 DSC05931  DSC05943

And then we checked out Global Village, which is a massive state fair, except it’s an international one.  Games, shops, rides, food — oh glorious food! — and shows.  Lot’s of fun.

DSC05952 DSC05955 the Americas exhibit was a let down.  What made me laugh was they had an Abaya stand there, and these abayas showed cleavage.  I guess that Americanizes it…DSC05956 DSC05957 DSC05958 I never knew honey was such a big deal in Yemen, but it is.  We got tons of free samples.DSC05959 Honey there’s a honey for us…DSC05963 want a cup of tea?DSC05967 DSC05968 DSC05972 roar!  monsters and moon!DSC05984 Three continents in one swoop DSC05992 DSC05994 Yep, I went to Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, etc. all on the same day!

DSC06000Aaah and my favorite stop, the Turkish Restaurant.  We shared a table with two Russian women, and enjoyed watching the men work as much as the food they served us.  I’m a fan of grilled meat and cheesy dishes!

Needless to say, I had a wonderful 5 days off.

I wasn’t going to mention the bit of UAE news that made it’s way back home because it’s not my story to tell.  Sadly, it does belong to others.  But, I’ve gotten so many emails on it that I feel like I have to end this happy post with ugly news.  Yes, I heard about that poor woman who got stabbed in the mall, and, yes, if I were stationed in Abu Dhabi that’s probably the grocery store I would use, and, yes, we are all shocked and horrified this happened.  I did not know the woman, but like everyone else my heart goes out to her family and friends.  I am so sorry the woman who wanted to create havoc did indeed end an innocent woman’s life.  I’m sure had I known the woman who died, I would’ve loved calling her friend.

Violence isn’t normal here. Crime isn’t normal.  The only time any of us feel in danger is when we’re on the roads, and then we learn how to drive here and we don’t mind so much. Heaven help the U.S. when we return.

Whether or not the murderer was associated with any terrorist groups is unknown, but her act was obviously one of terror.  To everyone back home I cannot stress enough that, for the most part, we are safe here.  Of course because we’re Western and because we’re in a Middle Eastern country we do keep our eyes open, but we hear of more horrors going on at home than we do in this country.

I want to thank everyone back home for their love and concern, and I also want you to know that I am quite happy with being here.  I am learning so much good from the people here, and I know one day I will enjoy sharing their tales with all of you around the fire pit in my yard back home — until then, know this is still a really good place for me to be.

Okay, time to fit in some t.v. before having to go back to doing the work thing again…

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