Monthly Archives: March 2016

Spring Break!


Yesterday was our last day of school for a week AND we got paid.  There are a lot of happy teachers in the UAE right now — wait most of them are on vacation somewhere else in the world.  As I type this my friends are posting pics from Rome, Paris, Sri Lanka, Cambodia.  Other friends are en route to Bali, Seychelles, Jordan, Madrid — just to name the ones I can remember off the top of my head.

I’m sitting in my living room looking at above sign while sipping a special bevy and watching movies.  I’m doing this because my man is traveling 26 hours to finally see me again Sunday evening.  I’ve spruced up my apartment (and I’m in the process of sprucing up myself), went shopping and bought some of his favorite things (woo hoo I’m baking walnut brownies and boiling easter eggs for his arrival — my pantry hasn’t had cookies and chips in it since the last time he visited), and I took a break from all of this prep work by napping at the pool.  Tomorrow I’ll hit the gym, do more pool time, take a walk or two, make a ghoulash (to heat up while he’s here), read and spruce up some more.  Can I just say it’s nice not having to rush to do anything.

While I’m bummed that this time around I’m not adding any new countries to my ever-growing list of travels, I am so excited to see Joe again — and to once again share my temporary corner of the world.  It’s hard to believe that this time next year he’ll be here living with me full time again, adjusting to retirement.  I’m thinking our spring break vacation next year just may have to include Nepal and Tibet.  I’ve been saving those two countries to do with him.

And travel isn’t totally out of this break because a few days after Joe arrives, we are traveling with friends to add a new city to my “been there” list:  Muscat.  Plus, I have a lot of fun outings planned right here in the UAE — plenty of food and beach time.  Not to mention that I’m enjoying the hell out of my quiet time.

Oddly enough this was my favorite thing to do back home during break.  I rarely traveled during spring break because I couldn’t afford it (while all the cool places to visit are a short flight from here, they are quite a distance and cost from the U.S.), so instead I hiked, hung out at my pool, cleaned, caught up with friends, cooked nice meals for my family and enjoyed every second of it.

So my sign is right — happiness is just part of the trip wherever you are, and I’m so happy to have it in my life. I’m also pretty darned happy that travel is something I so easily get to do now — or choose not to do for special visitors!   And a big ole happy break, Easter, time-to-yourself to all my friends and family!


Three cities (okay 2.5); one weekend

It’s that lucky time of the term where we have just a few days left before Spring Break — whoop!  whoop!  Our girls are testing, so no real classes this week, although we do have catch-up time with the girls.

I’m proud to report that most of my girls did really well with this country’s college-entrance exam, and now they’re on the tail end of other exams they’d rather not be taking, but they’re giving it their best shot — while we try to finish up their grades on time.

Because I didn’t have to worry about planning lessons and resources this week I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend — yeah I know who am I kidding?  I thoroughly enjoy every weekend, but I swear this one came totally worry free.

On Thursday I spent the night in my apartment with my neighbors — Ashley baked cookies while Haneefa and I inhaled said cookies as well as some awesome cheese brought via Amsterdam thanks to Shannan.

On Friday I went to Meena Bazzar, aka Little India, in Old Dubai near the Gold and Spice Souq.  Basically, it’s where Indian and Pakistani (and anyone else willing to try out something different) women can go for their pick of dresses, shoes, jewelry, and any accessories — including any extra bling you’d want on clothes.  If you want a handbag or luggage, no worries, it feels like Karama (another famous place to shop in Dubai, specializing in leather goods) is right around the corner because there is a man on every street waiting to take you to a best-price bag shop (we declined their offers).

Luckily, I went with my friend Sangita, who is British-Indian, who just happened to be looking for a few outfits for a cousin’s wedding in May.  I loved helping her find things, while I bought myself some adorable gold shoes, and having her introduce me to her family’s culture — including a meal at her favorite north indian restaurant (all vegetarian and yummy, although I’ve discovered that um, chickpea curry has its own scent that, um, your body releases up to two days later — who knew?).  Sangita if you’re reading this thanks for a fun night, and I’m totally looking forward to our next trip — where I’ll actually have the money to have some clothing made for me!

The next morning the skies were dark in Al Ain, but Abu Dhabi was sunny, so I met some other friends for a day on Saadiyat Beach, and the waves were busy.  It was a fantastic beach day where 40 and 50-something year old women played like sea nymphs and, unintentionally, showed off parts of our bodies not meant to be seen on a middle eastern beach — but hey what are you gonna do when Mother Nature whips you around like a rag doll.

Sunday morning I went to work sun burnt, but relaxed and at ease —all I’ve gotta do is proctor a few exams and finish marking.  I can do this!  Tomorrow, I get to have a spa day with Shannan in celebration of her birthday — and while the weekend ended Saturday night, it still feels like it’s going on (okay except for the morning alarm; could do without that).

You can buy made dresses, semi-made dresses, or fabric with patterns, which can be modified to what you would like.  While I’m not about the dress I’m holding up in picture — the man brought it to me because I’m tall, and he thought I’d like it — I am a fan of some of the pant/tunic options (they’re not what you think — will just surprise you with them one day).  I loved our final shop, which is where Sangita bought 4 outfits.  We were served Masala tea, while sewing machines buzzed upstairs, and sales men buzzed downstairs, and Sangita picked her fabrics and got measured.  A very busy place for a very tiny shop.

At the restaurant you sit down to a metal tray with tiny bowls.  Servers quickly come and fill the bowls with an assortment of vegetable curries and serve you a salty yogurt drink — to help cool the tongue.  I preferred using the raw vegetables and my bottle of water, but now I can say I sipped a salty, milky thing.  I learned that rice is served last not alongside the meal.

These pics don’t do the waves justice, nor the different shades of blue in the water.  A big ole thanks to Suzanne, her daughter Jenna who was visiting, Kelley and Craig for a fun-filled day — including our “it’s not ice cream it’s gelato” treat.  Thankfully, no one was taking pics of we sexpots getting bitch-slapped in the water.

One of the things I love most about here is the child-like wonder my friends and I continue to have despite our years of fighting all the metaphorical waves in our lives.  A night home, a day shopping, a day on the beach should always be as much fun as it was when we were little girls — may we never lose that!

In just a few days, Spring Break begins, and then we’re all into our third and final trimester for this year — where in the world does the time go?

Finally … another Teach UAE blog post

I’ve been slacking on my posts for TeachUAE, so took advantage of the extra days off this weekend and wrote one up.

Click here (you’d think I’d come up with something more creative than ‘click here,’ but it’s early)

And, now it’s time for me to brush my teeth and get on with the work day.

Hurricane, Typhoon, Cyclone UAE

dark skiesSo, we’ve had some weather!  This was taken at noon on Wednesday — yep it got that dark.

All last week we had cloudy skies and showers.  Mother Nature amped things up beginning on Tuesday.  Toward the end of the school day the sky turned black and what looked to be a thunderstorm turned into an all out rage.  I’ve never seen winds and rain like that here.  I rarely saw storms like that back home — even during Monsoon season.

So you can imagine the craziness that ensued with the girls.  Tree tops bent over to high five the ground while water rushed in through the doors.  The lights went out in our classrooms.  At first the girls were so excited, but then some of them got really scared.  Some cried, and I can’t blame them.  I wanted to cry too because trying to maintain some sort of order and keep them away from windows and calm in a corner was pretty much mission impossible.  But, we all survived and eventually the storm subdued and the girls went home.

The drive home was just as crazy.  I video taped one of the roundabouts, aka new lakes, but can’t post here because apparently I cuss a lot when I’m scared.  I don’t know how my car didn’t flood out, but I’m so grateful — Thank you Hyundai for whatever you put under that car to protect the engine.  Almost every roundabout was flooded beyond belief, and Al Ain has a LOT of roundabouts.

This was Tuesday.  5 a.m. Wednesday I wake up to torrential rain.  My balcony is now a swimming pool, and I’m worried water will seep into my apartment (humdullah!  it never did).  Check my messages and discover that whoop!  whoop!  school is cancelled for the day.  Of course I’m happy to have the day off, but I’m also relieved to not have to drive in the roundabout madness again.  A river is now also flowing right in front of my complex.

My neighbor sends a text to all of us inviting us to her place for breakfast.  Long story short throughout the day we celebrate the madness together.  Around noon the biggest storm hit, and we watched it from my balcony where we learned that we now also had Thursday off too.

While my place didn’t flood, there were issues with other apartments in our complex.  Haneefa’s apartment flooded by her windows and she had muddy water dripping down her wall.  The alleyway between our two buildings turned into a nasty pool until Bibin, our caretaker, managed to pry open the drains.

This didn’t stop us from enjoying our day.  We cleaned up as much as we could and then feasted and played games.  I love my neighbors and am so happy to be where I’m at.

To get a better picture of the havoc this storm wreaked, though, check out this news site.  Scroll down to see random videos.  Compilation of social media videos.

Obviously my complex had it easy compared to other areas in the country, but still it was one heck of a storm.  Thursday started off sunny, but then the skies got dark again — luckily no real rain to report, so I drove to Abu Dhabi to whoop it up with my friends there.

Friday everything was sunny again, and I wish I didn’t have such a bad headache because it was the perfect beach or pool day.  Instead I came home, slept a lot, and then had a lovely dinner/movie night with Haneefa.  Hahaha we watched San Andreas Fault and wondered why The Rock didn’t come save us during our own lil natural disaster.

It’s now Saturday and the skies are brown.  Aargh, I was hoping to go to the gym and then hang out at the pool.  Hopefully, it’ll blow over and I can get some sun.

Last year we had maybe 5 rain days all year and none of them lasted an entire half hour yet alone days, so it seems to me we’ve met our rain quota in just this week.  But yay that it’s exciting to get real weather — other than our heat and sandstorms.

And, I’ll end this post with an article about the people who worked to minimize damage or save stranded folk during all our craziness.  Unsung heroes story

Oh, and here’s a link to my friend Suzanne’s blog on Tuesday’s rain.

Ewww and the sun’s back.  Woo hoo!


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