Category Archives: Al Ain Second Trimester
Woo hoo! I’ve officially survived my first trimester and in the midst of my second. I’ve got this!
As you all know, Michelle came to visit back in March. We posted some Facebook pics along the way, but I’ve been promising a rundown of some of what we did — just to give my future visitors a taste of what to expect (heaven help my wallet and liver!). Basically, besides the Jordan trip, we surrounded ourselves with luxury, good food and friends.
Abaya fashion in front of the grand mosque. I like having a shayla on in the wind, but I could do without the abaya when it’s hot. But, it’s worth sweating a little to hear the call to prayer while in the grand mosque.
Gold-laced coffee, pastries and gold vending machines are totally in at the Emirates Palace, a 7 star hotel with a price tag to match. FYI: I’m so excited to be spending a night there in June thanks to a sale for gulf residents. It’s still expensive, but Shannan and I can afford to splurge and split the cost — something we wouldn’t be able to do with their normal prices.
the view of the hotel’s beach through one of their windows — cannot tell you how excited I am to be able to go there in a few weeks.
Boat docks near Intercontinental (where I ‘lived’ my first week in Abu Dhabi). These two are dangerous together. They wanted to hop on a yacht …. they had to settle for a quick foot on the boat shot.
One of our Abu Dhabi nights began at a Brazilian restaurant, where beefcakes cut up sizzling meat in front of us — don’t know which made us drool more. Why yes that is a slab of beef covering Shannan’s face.
will never tire of sipping cocktails and enjoying this view.
Another Abu Dhabi night we celebrated Shannan’s birthday at Burlesque in the Viceroy. We loved staying there.
When we weren’t doing the posh and nonfamous, we spent time lounging on the beach or at a pool.
It wasn’t all glamour and parties though. We spent some time in Al Ain as well. Michelle got to visit my school, a student’s house and my favorite local spots. I’ve decided it’s a good thing I don’t live in Abu Dhabi city because let’s face it I’d be totally broke whooping it up way more than I can afford. Here’s a link to the blog Michelle and I wrote about visiting my student: Home Visit
And, here’s a link to Michelle’s post about visiting my school: School Visit
And then, of course, there was Dubai. We loved the shisha stage we got to sit on. There’s so much more I could share, but I’ve got to get on with the day. I know there are better pics I could post, but there are hundreds to sift through. Hopefully, one day I’ll organize it all.
Until next time, here’s a healthy fruit shot to all of you (seriously no liquor in this one). Cannot wait wait to share this with my next visitor, whomever you may be!
It seems so long ago since Michelle’s and my visit, but it was less than two months ago! We were only there for four days, but we packed a lot in — including climbing to the top of Petra without the help of those poor beasts of burden. Trust me the donkeys that trek up and down the mountain earn the burden title. We just couldn’t add to their misery.
I wish I would have taken the time to write while we were there, but I didn’t, so I’ll do my picture/caption blast to tell the story. But, first I’d like to sum it all up by telling you a little bit about two young men Ashley and I met in Sri Lanka. They were brothers from Israel. They were kind, clever and a lot of fun. They were so excited about their visit to the turtle hatchery earlier in the day. Their zest for life and mannerisms reminded me of my sons back home, who like these two have no desire to wreak havoc in anyone’s life. When I said I was in Jordan just the week before, one of them said, “We can’t go there.” It stunned me because Israel shares the dead sea with Jordan, and yet they cannot cross each other’s border. Syria also borders Jordan, which is something I wouldn’t have thought much about if it weren’t for the frequent military checkpoints throughout Jordan, as well as the airport-style security check before entering any resort.
I’ve never been to Israel or Syria, but if the people there are anything like the Jordanians we met (and the two Israelis) it’s hard for me to understand why there is still this much conflict. I know there’s more to it all than my simple, touristy eyes can see (so please don’t think I’m being insensitive to the horrors that take place any where in the world), but I wish all of you could see how beautiful and normal this part of the world can be. I’ll stop with my “if the world could sing in perfect harmony” stuff, but truly I wish we could.
As for Michelle and I, we were awed by Jordan’s beauty, hospitality and variety of treasures.
the hills are alive … and, yes, I was surprised by how much green we saw there!
Ancient ruins in the capital, Amman
Even more ancient are the ruins in Petra. Joe wants to visit here, so I’m sure I’ll be back. Next time I will stay in the modern city of Petra and spend two days hiking around. Michelle and I hired a driver to pick us up from our Dead Sea resort, bring us to Petra, and then back to our resort. This meant a total of 6 hours driving, which was also cool because we got to see the sunrise and all sorts of countryside. (sorry the pics below are not in order, but you get the idea)
Michelle at one of the plateaus before reaching the top. You keep going up and up, thinking you’re almost there, and then bam you realize you’re not.
We get to look tiny for a change. The Monastery, was probably a temple first, is really close to the tippy top, but just look how massive that building carved into rock is. To learn more about Petra and its history (and, yes, you’ve seen some of its ruins in an Indiana Jones flick), click here.
some of those gazillion stairs that lead to the top. Vendors, who we think live on site, sell along the way.
of course we made friends with the people in front of us — going up those stairs. They were kind enough to take a photo of us taking a break in some much needed shade.
tacky tourist time. Come on, admit it, I’m sexy in those black socks!
poor babies work hard for their owners’ money. There were also camels and horses you could ride. While we felt sad for the animals, we did enjoy the banter with some of their peddlers. Some of them had kohl around their eyes and braided hair, which made them look like Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. They flirted and joked away trying to talk us into paying for a ride. Alas, their charm did not get our asses on their asses.
Although we did talk a man into letting Michelle ride his camel for a few minutes, so she could experience the fun of the mount and dismount. Hahahaha getting to watch your friend do this for the first time: priceless! The camel seemed amused as well.
the first part of your hike is going through a rock canal, which is beautiful in itself.
the sun waking up while we’re headed to Petra.
the rock had so many layers of color, which changed when the sun shifted. This reminded me so much of Sedona in Arizona.
The romans are coming! or maybe they’re supposed to be the Greeks (damn don’t know my military garb). Okay, so this was tacky. You gotta feel for the locals earning some dirhams dressing up as Roman or Greek or whatever guards. I realize I’m not being a very good teacher right now by not finding out the correct details for you.
the wild beasts we met at the top. Puma kittens — okay, whatever, they’re just kittens, but I like my version better. As you can tell they didn’t mind snuggling up to us either. At the top looking down at the massive monastery. It doesn’t look so big there does it?
well shit I am in Arizona… OMG our freshly squeezed juice was so needed when we got to this plateau. Best lemonade of my life! more red rock detail. I will never get enough of watching the sun rise or set, water ripple and red rock cliffs.
While Petra was amazing, our spa day at our resort was just as wonderful!
I cannot tell you how much fun I had swimming in the spa pools. One was an indoor dead sea pool (and it stung like a mother because I shaved my legs that morning — ouch!), one was a frigid pool you jump in after relaxing in the sauna, and the other was my favorite. It was basically a big pool with all sorts of jet action — from a back massaging fountain, to the best foot massager ever, to seats of bubbles. I truly felt like a princess swimming in its waters. We spent an entire day getting pampered here, which our aching muscles from the Petra hike totally appreciated. I may come back again just for the spa day!
And then there was the fact that we could swim in the same waters as Cleopatra…
Thing is before you float in this water because you can’t really swim in it — your flubbery self will flip over, and you don’t want to splash around because trust me that shit burns when it gets in your eyes — you have to cover yourself with its black, sulphur-smelling mud.
definitely one of the most awkward things I’ve done. Word of warning: men will hog the vat of mud and slather that stuff all over them. Some have no shame and swab it up under their trunks. I just stood there watching this one man mud up his junk. No worries because his buddy watched me lather up my chest. Don’t know if it cured me of anything, but our skin was so incredibly soft afterward.
Getting into the water is awkward too because it’s rocky, and you don’t want to cut yourself because of all the salt. And then there’s the whole floating thing. Your body does not want to sink at all. It’s also weird swimming around knowing nothing will bite you because it’s the ‘dead’ sea.
but it doesn’t look that way. Colorful rocks and built-up salt crystals adorn its shores.
We also thoroughly enjoyed our resort, which seemed to chill everything.
Who doesn’t want chilled nuts and shisha? The shisha part was weird because when you blew it out the smoke was cold.
The best hummus I’ve ever had, however, was warm.
the roasted pine nuts tasted like bacon. Oh and that puffy bread next to it was also deliciously warm!
Last, but not least, they celebrated Earth Day while we were there by lighting a bonfire with gas, and filling a bunch of paper bags with candles. It was hilarious to watch the men try and set this thing up, but we got to sit on the beach, eat free appetizers and watch the lights of Jerusalem across the way.
our little non-eco friendly lanterns.
Mohammed our driver making sure the wind doesn’t blow Michelle off that cliff! He doesn’t look too worried though, does he?
Of course there’s more to tell, but you’ll just have to ask Michelle or me about the rest of our trip. I’ve already made this post too long. Next up (inshallah) will be a run down of the rest of Michelle’s visit.
p.s. Just read this blog on tourist visa changes in Jordan. It saddens me the people there are suffering financially because of what’s taking place in neighboring countries. http://quitealone.com/2015/05/05/jordan-changes-visa-regulations/
It’s been windy, and we’ve had a lot of sand blowing all over the place. Needless to say many of us are suffering from sinus issues. I’ve been off balance and light headed for over a week now, but, in part, I just blamed it on end-of-term exhaustion. Then it finally hit me. I went to work yesterday and really, really dreaded it. Don’t know why I thought it’d be a good idea, but silly me thought it’d help my girls get their final presentations over with (which some of them did). Woke up this morning with a full-blown sinus infection, so I took my first real sick day. In order to get paid for this I have to go to the doctor and get a certified letter stating yep, I’m sick, so pay me (we also have a few emergency days we can use, which don’t need a doctor’s note, so it’s not as dire as it sounds). I went to the clinic/hospital suggested by my coworkers.
It was super easy to get to, and although it felt like forever I was there for only an hour. That said when you’re sick and cranky and your hearing is muffled because of your sinuses revolting, you just want everything to be your version of normal, which it will never be in another country. First off just because it says entrance over the door to the clinic doesn’t mean that entrance is meant for you — it’s meant for a shitload of worker men who are as sick and cranky as you (and looking a bit more dusty). Luckily, the security guard escorted me to where I needed to go.
Then you go through the “no husband? no family here?” drill, so you just say hey I’m going to put my new daughter (didn’t include her title of wine) down, so now one of my neighbors is my next of kin. If I die, she’ll be the first person to know.
Then you’re quickly told to go around the corner, take a right, find the lift, go to 1st floor and go to counter 2 — from a nice man who happens to have a very thick Indian accent. I can’t hear well when I’m healthy — imagine listening through clouds in your head. Luckily I found the lift, but when you get upstairs you’re in the hospital area and there is no sign that says Counter Two — but I figured it out. yay me. More people I don’t understand talk to me, but I sit next to a local woman who seems as dazed and confused as me — and we both get taken care of pretty quickly. Except in my case I’m pulled into a doctor’s room where there is already a patient being examined — whoops. Then I’m back to the ladies waiting room until I’m pulled in. My doctor is a nice lady from Sudan, but I couldn’t decipher half of what she said to me. All I know is I got my letter, my prescription and directions to go to next building, take lift to basement, get blood work and “skull Xrayed for sinuses.”
First I had to pay, which was only $13. Next building is actually going through the Emergency Room across the lane, and again a security guard pointed me in right direction — love those security guards! I found the lab easy enough, but then I was supposed to go to Xray place afterward, but I really didn’t want to wait anymore and seriously do I really want someone to X-ray my skull? I appreciate them being so thorough, but all I wanted was to go home, sip some tea and pass out. So, I skipped it, but shhhh don’t tell my doctor.
And here I am waiting for the theraflu to kick in, sharing my first doctor visit with you. Overall it was pretty easy, just intimidating because it was my first time — and, well, very foreign (for me). If there’s a next time I’ll know what to do. On the drive home I almost peed my pants because the largest dust devil I’ve ever seen popped up near a roundabout. Here’s a link to one my cousin posted, and, obviously, not the one I saw. Mine wasn’t that tall, but it wasn’t too much smaller girth wise. Dust Devil video
Hope you’re all having a healthy week! It’s now nap time for me.
How will I ever go back to a normal life? My normal now consists of last-minute hotel bookings to play and shop in Dubai, or to you know go to Sri Lanka for a few days, or to book my summer visits to Prague, Munich, Berlin, possibly Amsterdam, Hamburg, then home for a few weeks where my man is planning another trip for just the two of us.
Oh, and taking a few days off to go to Jordan to see Petra and float in the dead sea (and squeezing a night in Bahrain as well). And, having fun setting up my second bedroom for Michelle who’ll be visiting in two weeks (I’ll post pics after she sees it — want her to be pleasantly surprised). My new normal includes a very nice man from Pakistan and another nice one from Afghanistan (looking very much like where they come from) deliver and set up furniture in the room, and then sitting with them a bit to chat and drink water. Can you ever imagine this happening back home?
My biggest issue right now is keeping all of my upcoming travel plans in order. Poor me also has an upset stomach because we spent the day at work eating awesome Lebanese food and an amazing red-velvet birthday cake for a co-worker.
Don’t get me wrong … I do miss my old life (and all the wonders my home and loved ones have to offer), and there are days when I dream about what it’d be like to be back home. But, mostly, I see where I am, what I’m doing, and I hear the shit my friends and I say — the way we’re so casual about eh catching a flight to Colombo, so that we can go visit the elephant orphanage, or book a room in Dubai because eh, who wants to drive an hour home after shopping? — and I’m like who in the hell am I? Just last year I stressed over where I could afford to stay for my job interview in Santa Barbara (which, actually, turned out to be an awesome mother/daughter trip). I was bummed there was no hotel 6 within walking distance of the “really expensive” place the interviews were taking place.
The job still has its hard days, but me oh my I am a very lucky girl. Stay tuned because I’m sure I’ll have plenty more fun and amazing to share after Michelle’s visit (doubt I’ll get much chance to post much while she’s here).
Until then you can bask in the before picture of my second bedroom, which was up until last weekend my “walk in closet.” Lot’s of school work thrown in there… can you tell I’m tired when I get home from work?
things are heating up in Al Ain…
How can you have a bad weekend when you have churros and chocolate?
I’m pleased to see that Al Ain is booking more social events — or it could be these things have happened before, and I’m just now noticing it. Either way, we’re finding more fun stuff to do — yay!
As for my headline, it’s literally heating up. It’s Valentines weekend, and we’re back to putting on the a/c. Um, this kind of sweating isn’t what one hopes to be doing in February. That said I need to stop because I could be stuck in a blizzard, and this is much better.
So, as for this weekend, we had a food truck festival in a local park. Apparently, a group of food trucks were shipped in from the U.K., and they’re touring the UAE — this weekend it was our turn to have them. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was fun to get out on a Friday night and mingle with expats and locals. Bands played, vendors sold us food and drinks, and people were forced to chat with one another while either standing in line or looking for a chair. My kind of night — especially since we added shisha and bevies near the Rotanna pool later on.
our cute lil food boys. Cheese man was working his buns off getting all the grilled cheese orders right — his sandwiches were our favorite. Pizza boy had fun with his customers while pulling hot pizza out of a flaming oven in a truck.
The Indians next store, however, probably didn’t like having pizza people as their neighbors — we can buy Indian food on any corner here, so people lined up for pizza not naan (although did have some yummy naan and butter chicken Thursday night — hmmmm and may go get some again later today).
Cute younger boys were fun to watch too. Jalen, Sangita’s son, never ceases to entertain, even when sipping a soda. And, I don’t know who drooled more that little boy staring at the pastries or me. Of course I want whatever was in the middle row.
Shannan looking good in the daisy dress — we both ended up buying the same dress and almost wore it on the same day, but whew! last-minute wardrobe change (and a warning text) spared the crowd two hotties — our little town can only handle so much excitement in one day.
Today, I’m taking it easy — maybe I’ll go to the pool, maybe not. It’s so nice to just chill and not worry about anything, which is great because I could be thinking about how much I’d love to be home with my loved ones. It’s Joe’s birthday and Valentines today, but instead I’m relishing some much needed rest and relaxation (the work week leading up to this was more stressful than normal, but we’re good now).
And, of course, I miss and love you all!
Happy Valentines Day, my habibity and habibi — let’s hope I got that right (for all I know I’ve mistranslated that into something sinful).
And a big ole Happy Birthday to my luv muffin — see you this summer.
Why I sometimes come home with a headache…
What? Another post so soon after posting yesterday? For starters I’m stalling. I’m getting observed this week, and I really don’t want to go back to creating differentiated packets. I have just two more to whip up, but damn I don’t want to. The other reason I’m in here is my head is pounding — even after two advil (and some Panadol from the school nurse earlier today). Today was not one of my better work days. Nothing horrible happened, and it certainly wasn’t my worst day at work, but the girls were more preoccupied with their social selves than their academic souls. I’m sure my headache exists for other reasons, but I’m blaming it on my girls.
The good news is my bad days here aren’t like bad student days I’ve had at home (but mark my words a tamer bad is still bad). No one will come to school here with a gun, girls don’t pass out in class because they’re drunk or pregnant (although they do sometimes faint), and they don’t knock over tables in the process of a beat down —- but they do occasionally throw water or pull hair.
As far as I know no one has cussed me out yet, but I’m still in the very early phase of learning Arabic, so maybe someone’s tossed a bad word or two my way.
A bad day for me is when they’re just not having it. For whatever reason English is not what they want to be doing, and since they’re from here and I’m from somewhere over there, it’s really easy to tune me out. I think because they also come from large families they’re just naturally loud —- with a capital L. OMG, when these girls get going it’s full-fledged shrieking and yelling. The chimpanzee section of the zoo is quieter.
Proximity teaching doesn’t help once they’re in full swing. I stand next to the talkative table, and as soon as I look at the rest of the class, boom! they’re at it again.
Thing is I can’t stay mad at them because a. I know they don’t understand much of what I say; b. they’re in the same class room all day long and just want to be girls; and c. they intersperse continual compliments with their unintentionally rude behavior.
Here’s a typical bad-day conversation:
Me: X why aren’t you working?
X: Miss you are so beautiful.
Me: Thank you. Did you know you’re even more beautiful when you’re working?
Y joins in: Miss you are so nice.
Me: Watch me get mean…get back to work.
Move on to another loud table.
Z: Miss your eyes are like the sky.
Me: Thank you, can you put yours to use and read that passage for me.
Z tries to read whatever and gets a few words right.
Her buddy stares at me (mind you they’ve had me for 6 months now my eyes should no longer be a novelty): Miss why you no put make up on.
Me: Child, let’s work on that sentence. How do you ask that correctly?
Another student: Miss I want your eyes. Give me your eyes (and I’m pleased she said your).
I move on to another table.
“Miss, I love you.”
First table now breaks out into the Barney song: I love you, you love me!
And it goes downhill from there until I raise my voice, make them stand, sit, stand … you know every damned shut-the-ef up tactic I know. I get them under control for five seconds.
“Okay girls now give me your verbs.” I think I’m so clever, but no that only gets them laughing.
And then it begins again.
We totally live for our weekends….
Cheers! yeah I know this is a cheesy photo, but hey look at that background. I’m by boats and water with lots of food and bubbly, sitting outside in February. Okay, so I’d be able to do this in Phoenix too, BUT no azure water there.
I’ve been busy working and, well, playing. The weekends are not meant to be wasted, so I’ve been getting to know all the varieties of fun in my new land. A few weekends ago I got to go to another Emirate wedding. This time for one of my students sisters. As always the women were stunning and the food was abundant. I will miss being brought chocolate, tea and perfumes. It’s going to be a rude awakening when I go back home — WHAT no one is bringing me anything luxurious? I have to pay for said items?
I’ve also taken up an Arabic class (I’ll write about words I’m learning in another post) and discovered a few new fun spots here in Al Ain. One night after Arabic class Shannan and I went to a Syrian restaurant others raved about (for anyone moving to Al Ain it’s Al Taahi near the Rotanna), and oh my goodness it exceeded our expectations. It’s a tiny place, but the owner is amazing, and he loves to take care of his guests. Let’s just say we walked out of there round bellied with loaded goody bags and the best pomegranate juice I have ever had.
I’m glad I’m discovering more fun spots in Al Ain because every time I go to Abu Dhabi I turn a shade of green envy. Yes my friends apartments there are so much smaller than mine, but they’re in Abu Dhabi in a high rise, and, well, hello? I want that. That said more events are being planned here, so Abu Dhabi buddies are coming to Al Ain for weekend fun too. It’s all just an hour and half drive away — so humdullah we have the weekends! Overall, I’m lucky because I get to live in three worlds here — Al Ain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. So the green side of me needs to just pack it in and remember to relish all that I have.
Last weekend was all about being a girl — even when you’re a few months shy of 50. One night I cackled it up with some friends while we made homemade pizza and brownies, the next we spent it shopping at the new Yaz Mall, which I love (and I’m not a mall person). OMG we had so much fun shopping (and, of course, eating), and then later two of us sipped cocktails while throwing our little fashion show in our hotel room versus going out. Sometimes it’s just fun doing the girly girl things. Besides, we all whooped it up the weekend prior at a lovely Al Ain event — an all you can drink wine and eat tapas party at a private pool area at the Rotanna. It was beautiful and quite the event, which then led to a night of dancing and more fun. Wish I could post all the pics, but I want to keep my friends, so just know we rocked it.
This weekend I joined some friends in Abu Dhabi and went to a Friday brunch at the Intercontinental, the hotel we all stayed in when we arrived in August. Long story short a very good time was had by all. Today begins a diet because I’ve inhaled an ungodly amount of calories. How much you wanna bet I cave and order delivery from Jaimile, the Syrian, before the day ends…
There’s this restaurant at Yas mall where your food is served to you from a roller coaster. It’s a fun thing to do every now and then. We’re easily amused.
More Yas mall pics. I’m attempting to show off a wine stain, but I picked up the wrong side. and why I think this is hilarious is beyond me, but look no cavities! I cropped out my friend in this pic because I didn’t ask if she’d be okay with me posting a pic that included wine, but she’s absolutely gorgeous in this shot and I need to send her this photo.
So, we’re being photobombed by a Scott. Lord, I have a big head.
Kaylene if you’re reading this. I took the Jameson pic just for Kelly. So yeah this brunch thing is pretty damned yummy. The one we went to included three restaurants and different drink stations, so you mingle around, nab a little here, a little there, and then have one of the waiters roll you to your cab.
notice how small that beer is. Um, and before that are jager bombs. I thought I was past the days of doing anything with the word bomb in it…
And where I’ll be tonight — sipping green tea — after I’ve finished my lesson planning.
of course I’m posting it because I like my black and white and pink. Again, I’m easily amused. And, now, it’s back to work. I have some worksheets to type up. The whole work thing can be a downer on Saturdays…
So we had some weather…
Like in Phoenix, rain is a big deal here — except even more so because it rains less here than Phoenix. Of course the way people react to it is a little different. Basically, a few drops of water brings out the crazy. Rain means you can spinout in roundabouts, hoot and holler while hydroplaning on the flooded roads, skip school to go mudding in the desert, scare your teacher when she walks into the room and sees 4 girls have broken the window hinge just so they can hang out the window. You know that sort of thing.
I can’t say I blame them though (although I wish the crazy driving would stay in the desert and not on the roads I need to drive on to get home). It’s nice to have rain and dreary skies — especially when you know in a few months it will be hell hot again, with humidity. It’s also chilly (for us), so I’ve been wearing my winter pjs and snuggling under a blanket while watching t.v. It’s nice to be cold and then warmed up. I wish I had my Joe and Badger to snuggle up with, but that’ll all happen again soon enough. This will one day be a memory, so may as well enjoy it while I’m living it.
That said work is exhausting me. I have one heck of a schedule this trimester. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my worst days — one day I have 6 classes almost consecutively and the other I have 7. The good news is on Sundays and Thursdays I have prep the last two classes, so I can leave early, which I totally plan on doing this afternoon. Cannot tell you how excited I am it’s Thursday!
Speaking of which my carpool buddy will be here in a few minutes, so I better get my shoes on and start the day.
Ms. Bettina loving the rose a girl picked for her
and what I will see on the drive in this morning, now that the rain is gone.
Oh, and here’s a link to another Teach UAE blog. This one is a shout out to teachers who are applying to come here in August — so weird that is no longer me!
Have a good day, everyone.
Well happy anniversary to my relationship with WordPress and my Abu Dhabi obsession…
I popped in here to share my great local shopping experience, and then saw the wordpress notification that today is our anniversary. Wow this time last year I was posting my ramblings about this thing I thought I might do, and today I shopped for fish and veggies with the locals of Al Ain. What a difference a year makes! So souq (or is it souk?) shopping is my new fave. Not gonna lie I was a little (okay a lot) intimidated at first, but no need to sweat it. The vendors are there to sell, and we’re all there to buy, so it’s all good. I mean I’ve done the touristy ones, but this was real-world-get-what-you need shopping. There’s an indoor souk near my flat, and they have tons of vegetables and fruits. I didn’t have my camera with me and didn’t think to whip out my phone, but the fruit baskets/trays were HUGE and beautiful. Shannan, my souk-shopping sister, and I just walked around this one and asked questions about fruits/veggies we weren’t sure about, but we were just stopping in this time because we were headed downtown to the official fish/veggie place (you can also buy hunks of mutton, spices, honey and other eating essentials). Next weekend, i’m popping over to the one nearby to see if their prices are as good. I wasn’t expecting the market we went to to be busy, but it was. Luckily, Shannan steered me to a parking deck versus having to drive through where the locals were parking, so we made it there stress free and the car dent free. We were a little shy at first, but then dove in. My first purchase was ONE dirham. ONE DIRHAM (that’s 27 cents in American money). I was like dude, did I hear you wrong? You see when you buy produce at the supermarkets it’s expensive, and the shit doesn’t even look all that good. I spent around 50 dirham ($15.61) today, and I bought a bunch of fresh veggies and fruits and shrimp. Shannan was brave and ordered some red snapper and tilapia — and they cleaned it for her too. I get that maybe I’m just a little too excited over our shopping spree, but I felt kinda Anthony Bourdainish because you know we’re buying from the street, mixing with the flies and folk. And it was fun. Love the lil fish guy Shannan bought her fish from, and the guy who cleaned my shrimp. I’ll come back just to buy from them again. It wasn’t all Middle Eastern, a Canadian lady (another teacher transplant) taught us how to pick and then peel new mangoes, so we’re going to be market pros in no time. Even better we begin our Arabic lessons on Monday, so before long we’ll be bartering and bantering with the best of them —- although the prices are so low I don’t really feel right asking for lower. I finally remembered to whip out my phone and take some pics. I suck taking pics with the phone but here you go. Anyone got a taste for baby shark? my shrimp getting beheaded (thank god) and cleaned looks like I ‘cleaned’ this guy’s head. The one sitting down was my guy. my shrimps (not shrimp) were bought here Yeah I get it looks gross like that, but it’s gonna taste good with my salad and coconut rice (why didn’t I buy saffron from the spice guy?) tonight! So, I’m happy and content. Tomorrow I see my students again. The last time I taught an actual class was November 26, so let’s see how rusty I am. It’s a good thing I’m loading up with fresh vitamins and minerals tonight — I might need it. And if the girls are a little too excited and wear me down, I’ll just keep daydreaming about my berry bush drink at the Rotanna pool, which is just a few roundabouts away from my flat — the weekend is just a few more days away… To my American buds I hope you’ll continue enjoying your weekend, and to my UAE buds best of luck tomorrow. I’ll see you Thursday night or Friday. Inshallah! p.s. I didn’t tell you my fog story on the day I drove Joe to the airport (yes I miss him), but those of you on Facebook got to read it. My friend Suzanne lives in Abu Dhabi and has to deal with the fog. In Al Ain we don’t get much fog, so it’s not something I deal with frequently, but it IS absolutely crazy scary — worthy of any Stephen King novel. Here’s Suzanne’s words about what it’s like driving in it. http://suzannainthesand.com/2015/01/09/under-the-weather/