Photo taken and edited by Andrew Cole … thanks Andy! I’ll share more of your goodies later.
The past few days have been all about having fun with friends and saying good bye. Too many farewell parties this time around, but I’m happy for my friends moving on to new experiences. I’m sad for my future here without them, but I’m sure some of us will most certainly drink and eat together again. And, I’m grateful that a few of my friends will also be returning in August.
Some of our good byes. Wish I had more pics to show, but we were too busy having fun to snap it all.
There are only three main to-dos for me today: finish packing, clean up my mess of an apartment and land my tuckus on the window seat that leads to the flight that will get me back home. I’ve accomplished two, and in about an hour I’ll be on my way to the airport. (time IS dragging a bit right now)
I cannot wait to see everyone! And then six weeks later I’m back to saying goodbyes. It’s my ever-revolving circle of tears and laughter.
And, that’s about all I’ve got to share for now … more posts will be in the making shortly! Have a great summer everyone.!
There’s a whole lot of inging going on over here. Last Thursday I went to Dubai to watch some of my friends sky dive over the palm (notice how I said watch, not partake), the next day I was swimming in its waters thanks to another friend’s bachelorette party on a yacht. Day after that I was practically mugging the frozen drink guy thanks to me melting on Jumeira beach. The heat is definitely back!
On Sunday I watched my girls transform into Cinderellas and then glide across the stage to nab their diplomas. Oh how I wish I could show you how mature and beautiful they were. I am so very proud of each and every one of them, and I can’t wait to see what they do after they graduate from university.
This weekend I joined friends in Abu Dhabi for brunch at the Intercontinental — we have a soft spot for that place since it was our first UAE home. For those of you back home brunch isn’t your typical Mother’s Day affair. Um, in 4 hours I was able to destroy what good a month’s worth of dieting and exercising has done for my body. Back to the drawing board, although we have another brunch next weekend. It’s a never ending battle — the living here sometimes is just too good for my own good.
Thanks Ashley for taking and sending brunch pics.
Ramadan begins again in a week, so we’ll calm down on the splurging and get ourselves ready for all of our trips home to loved ones this summer. Just a few more weeks, and year two is already khallas. Where does the time go?
Girls Just Wanna have fun…
The yacht party was so much fun. I totally plan on attending more of these next year.
The view from our Dubai apartment. We found this great place near Jumeirah beach, which will just happen to be our new digs every time we go.
And now I get to chill. Some girls are coming over to watch last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, so we’ll inhale some Indian food and OMG at whatever surprises HBO throws at us tonight and then again on Monday.
Hopefully, everyone back home is enjoying their Memorial Day weekend. I’ll see you all soon.
It’s been an easy work week. Caps and gowns are in, so my girls are really excited about their upcoming graduation. We’re just finishing off some last-minute review and then khallas it’s exam and ceremony time, and then they’re on to university. Inshallah and a big ole humduallah!
It’s getting hot here, as it tends to do. Today it’s 108 F, and it will only get hotter. Thank God we have our chilled pools and air-conditioned everything. This weekend I’m pretty much cooling off at the pool or reading on my chaise. I’m saving money because next weekend I’m off to Dubai to see some friends sky dive (um that’s a big hell no on my end) and celebrate Jordan’s and my birthday, so a weekend home is a good way to give my wallet and body a healthy break — before I do more damage to both.
Since I don’t have much new to report right now, here’s the latest edition of Teach UAE. A letter from me to new hires is on page 18, and my buddy Suzanne has a piece on repatriation (so very sad she’s leaving) on page 39. There’s a whole bunch of other goodies in between, so give it a read when you have time.
It’s been a busy two weeks. Joe landed on Easter, and we had a week of catching up and seeing some sites. In his short time here he got to play in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, and Dubai. Saying goodbye was really hard (although my friends and time on the beach made it easier). A week is not enough time, but I’ll be home for the summer in three months, and then before you know it he’ll be retired and living here with me. I think he’s ready for the expat life — his liver maybe not so much.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again I so love my friends. We manage to really do this living thing well together. Joe’s first two days here we holed up in Al Ain, but then we joined Suzanne and Craig in Abu Dhabi where we showed Joe a taste of the city night life. Then we all took off to Muscat for a few days, where we took advantage of our resort’s pool, beach and club room. We had good intentions to visit the city. I hear the souk and opera house are must sees, but alas we only waved at them from our taxi. It’s all good; it’s only a 45 minute flight from Abu Dhabi, so we can visit again and actually do the tourist thing. This time was all about laughing and loving life.
After Muscat, we headed off to Dubai to catch up with Jordan, Shannan and friends of theirs (who are now also friends of ours). We splurged on a nice hotel on The Walk and whooped it up, although for Joe and me it was bittersweet since it was also our last night together.
City Lights and Laughter
This past week was professional development, which worked out for Nasirah (my department chair whom I adore) and me because we pretty much planned out the whole trimester. It’s good going in knowing we have our resources ready, and by the looks of it we may have only around 6 weeks of teaching because our exams have been moved up. I’m not complaining, but my poor girls are going to be slammed with studying. It’s okay, they’re tough, they can handle it. I can’t believe my time with them is almost finished. The school year has gone by as fast as my breaks.
Last night some of my friends — same old crew, so really they’re more like sisters/cousins — came over for dinner, and tonight I’ll go over to Shannan’s for a cookout at her place, so basically I have a few more days of kicking back before the mad dash to the final exam line begins. While I’m missing my people back home, I’m still totally content and grateful to be over here. It’s weird to be so at peace when the world around me is losing its shit. I’ll keep hoping the rest of the world will catch up with our little corner and learn to relax, love life and be productive in a good way.
All hail Princess Bettina and Princess Shannan because we got to spend the night in a suite that included 24 hour butler service and, well, lights and a/c that he had to show us how to use because after a few margaritas the iPad switch thingy was just too much for our royal brains to comprehend. [side note: the butler doesn’t actually stay in room with us — just in case you were wondering]
BUT, the trip didn’t start off royally. Long story short: que the Beverly Hillbilly music because dumbass me got my spiffy lil rental stuck in a sandpit. Shannan and I got all dusty and sweaty trying to get it out. We found cardboard and branches to shove under tires. We revved engine in reverse and forward. We kicked the tires. We prayed. What we got was a hole leading to China until our heroes — a pick up full of men — stopped to pull us out.
sadly this photo doesn’t show that there were like 4 or 5 of them helping out. It does, however, show the three-stooges scene where the seat-belt cable thingy broke free of my car (it worked the second pull though)
I danced my version of a humdullah, shukran happy happy joy joy dance — possibly making these poor souls second guess their decision to stop. But, they politely nodded their version of a “welcome miss” and piled back into their truck to go their way while we went ours — straight to Emirates Palace, baby.
Of course when we pulled up to valet parking our now-filthy hyundai accent got an inferiority complex because let’s face it he’s small and has absolutely no power. You know the Rolls Royces and Lamborghinis totally effed with it once the lights went out.
We walked to registration only to be stopped and greeted by a lovely lady who took our documents. We were like oh shit she knows we don’t belong here. We’re getting kicked out. But, instead, she returned with a bouquet of roses, scented towels (probably so we could wipe the sweat tracks off our faces) and the offer of tea or juice. We were asked to sit while they checked us in. I’m going to show my low-class colors here, but I have never ever had a check in where they came to me instead of me waiting in line for them. After all the processing was done we were introduced to our butler, a tall Norwegian (I think) whose back was so straight I’m sure it hurt.
While our nordic butler was all polished and dignified, we were not. As soon as he opened the double doors (using a faux gold coin, our key!) we were Omgodding and giggling like school girls, with the occasional “oh shit did you see this?!” As soon as that man left we were jumping on the king size bed and calling out to our new neighbor the sheik (seriously his palace was to the right, or so we were told by our butler — hahahaha love typing “our butler”).
The room was so large our bathroom had its own chandelier. I wish I took photos of the metal sinks or the rain shower, which was so tall it really looked like you were getting rained on.
We just sat in our room awhile taking it all in while sipping fresh mango juice and nibbling on our bowl of fruit. Later on we were treated to Patchi chocolates (for those of you not in the UAE these are expensive chocolates that seem to be at every wedding and special celebration. I’m so spoiled now, 5 minutes into an event I’m like “okay where’s the Patchi?”).
Eventually we tore ourselves from the room to check out the east-end pool and beach, which is the adult only section (although I did see kids there). The west-end pool and beach includes a lazy river, an assortment of game tables, water slides and enough kid pool toys to cater to a whole village. Don’t want to walk, no problem Miss. There are golf carts waiting to take you, or you can nab one of the resort bicycles and peddle to the other side.
After living it up in the pool, we met up with Suzanne for her birthday dinner at a restaurant where for a certain time period it’s all you can eat off the menu and all you can drink margaritas. Sadly, we had to leave the hotel for this, but that’s okay because our royal coffers probably couldn’t afford dinner at the palace.
And here are a few shots of the hotel — just to rub in the luxury a bit more
And last but not least, before going to bed we took advantage of the humungo bathtub/jacuzzi, which could’ve passed for a small pool.
Day 2 we spent lounging in the lazy river. Needless to say we did NOT want to leave, but alas our jobs and real lives expected us back. To my UAE buddies: take advantage of this sale. When will you ever get to be this spoiled again? It’s the closest most of us will ever be to the millionaire lifestyle. OH, and it includes a lovely breakfast the next morning. I kind of wanna go again next weekend, but, um, I only have like 200 dirhams in my account (but shhhh don’t tell my butler).
I also wrote about this for TeachUAE (sans the bubble bath shots and cuss words): Teach UAE link.
Next time around I’ll try to remember to tell you about graduation and our last days at school. Oh wait it’ll also be Ramadan, so I’ll be sure to tell you all about that.
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…
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.
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.
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…
Right this very second Joe is snoring on the couch while I upload photos and reflect on the passing of another year. This is as it should be. It’s pretty much how we spend New Years day every year.
New Years Eve, however, was quite different from the annual neighborhood cul de sac party (although I did get to call home today and wish my old party buddies well). Lisa, Joe and I joined some friends from Abu Dhabi and did a desert safari/camping trip. My friend Sangita, who is also in Al Ain, also happened to be on the same tour, so it worked out perfectly. Right now I’m tired and suffering bedouin butt — my new ailment thanks to getting up and down from the hard cushions on desert floor. BUT, I am so grateful for the life I have been blessed with. 2014 was a great year, and I sense 2015 holds many more magical moments.
But, you’re not here for that. You want to know what trouble we got into. I’m happy to say none, but we did bash some dunes (basically it’s like riding a roller coaster in the middle of nowhere in, our case, a hummer — freaking awesome), ride some camels, smoke some shisha, watch all kinds of dancers (Arabian men LOVE to dance), do some dancing of our own, eat and drink well, and laugh with friends from around the world. Somewhere around 4 a.m. we crawled into our traditional tent and passed out, only to wake right before the sun and stumble our way to the rustic (that’s a good word for it) bathroom. I wish I would’ve thought to nab my camera because my words can’t do the morning fog caressing the dunes justice. It’s one of those moments meant to be remembered and cherished, but that didn’t stop me from crawling back into my sleeping bag. Mama needed to get some sleep before crawling back into reality.
My only regret is that I couldn’t pull all of my loved ones from home to do this with me. It was the absolute perfect way to end one year and bring in another. But it’s all good — we have all year to play and discover different parts of the world together!
learning some moves from a young pro
time on the dunes!
woke to find puppies.
breakfast and remnants from the night before. When the clock struck 12 it was glitter, silly string and fireworks galore. Hahahaha since safety regulations are not the same as back home, the fireworks where shot off a dune over our heads. This was fantastically awesome until some of those embers landed on dance floor, but it’s all good everyone just ducked and danced around them. Not gonna lie it’s all good until someone loses an eye, but it was pretty amazing to have the flares blossom so close to you.
On our drive home we had to stop while three mama camels and their babies meandered on the long dirt road. Apparently the lil ones got thirsty. Great way to start the new year though.
I hope you’re all having a lovely day as well, and can’t wait to see what we all do in 2015!
Happy New Year, my friends!
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…
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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… I never knew honey was such a big deal in Yemen, but it is. We got tons of free samples. Honey there’s a honey for us… want a cup of tea? roar! monsters and moon! Three continents in one swoop Yep, I went to Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, etc. all on the same day!
Aaah 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…
So what did I do Halloween weekend? I bought stuff for my apartment, drank too much fermented grape juice and took pictures of new stuff, watched a little t.v. and totally enjoyed my alone time. Don’t worry I didn’t turn into a hermit and avoid everyone. Thursday night I went out to dinner with a friend and Halloween morning my neighbor baked brownies for everyone (and then for dinner treated me to shwarmas and hummus) . I love my little complex —- it’s like living in a dorm hall except we have much nicer stuff and our own homes, but there’s always someone to hang out with when needed.
Today is our version of a Sunday, and I sort of did what I’d do back home on a Sunday. I went to Starbucks and bought a pumpkin spice latte and sipped it out on my balcony. First of November and we finally have a bit of a cool breeze going —- yes! Later on I’m cooking dinner and watching something on HBO with some of my friends (Shannon if you’re reading this, I’ve got dinner covered).
I’ll get back to whooping it up next weekend, but for now I’m so enjoying time at home. Sorry there’s nothing wild and crazy to report to you, but here are some of those pics I took Halloween night. Hahahaha the scary part was me forgetting there’s a shower hole on the other side of my shower curtain and almost knocking myself out snapping a shot of my sassy sprayer. See the danger I put myself into just to show my new normal to you guys back at home…
My sprayer. I thought of putting a face on it.
Um, I may have gone a little overboard with wall stickers
My new hand-made bed spread. I love it!
My little rental all by her lonesome. Apparently, I’m not the only one who stayed home Halloween night. No parking spots available! Oh wait, um, folks probably took cabs.
The new welcome mat to pigeon balcony. It only cost me $3. Score! And another bed shot with my new pink balcony chairs — I take them in because those pigeons are out to ruin my happiness. I will win our ongoing battle — eventually.
my cheery guest bathroom. Nothing new in here, well, I guess everything in there IS new, but I bought that stuff last month. Love my poppies growing out of the commode — thanks Ikea for getting me started on the whole wall sticky thing.
Apparently I had a little too much time on my hands because I guess I thought it was a good idea to take close ups of my carpets, so I could show off how soft they are, AND the fact that I have red and purple carpets — go me!
Okay, that’s enough of my boring you with all the little things that make my home a happy place. Time to get some stuff ready for work tomorrow and then read for fun. yay!
So, I survived the inspection hell while surviving the I-just-moved-to-the-middle-east mania. I’m back to believing the people who said it’d get easier after my first three months. I’m still in month two, but (now that I have time to breathe and live normally again) I just noticed a few things that tell me I am adjusting, and yep I’m back to being excited about this little adventure of mine.
Here’s how I know I just might be getting used to all of this:
- I no longer pray when entering a roundabout, but I think God misses my incessant “Oh thank you for letting me live!” There are a LOT of roundabouts in Al Ain!
- I almost picked up the phone to call a new sushi place that only delivers, and then I remembered wait if there’s no where to dine it’s probably made in someone’s home. We have a lot of apartment businesses here (thanks to expat spouses usually not being able to find work), and they’re great (I love my neighbor’s cajun takeout service!). But, is it wise to order sushi from someone’s home in the middle of the desert? Western me won over on this one, so the call wasn’t made.
- I hear the word shoe, and instead of thinking about feet I immediately re-explain what I just said using more hand and facial gestures. I believe shoo in Arabic means I have no clue what you’re saying, but your eyes are pretty, and can I just keep staring at them?
- Speaking of eyes, I no longer think it’s creepy when a girl demands “give me your eyes!” I also no longer flinch when some girl runs to touch my hair. I do, however, wish they knew what kooties were so I could freak them out by telling them they just nabbed mine.
- I have no problem walking past a bunch of laborers in their dusty kanduras to get into my special Spinneys to get my special grape juice. Hell I don’t even realize I’m the only woman in there until standing in line —- especially when there’s a buy 6 sale!
- I no longer worry about whether or not I should go into a store or restaurant that has only Arabic writing —- there’s usually good shit inside there, and I’ll enjoy eating it (well except for the grape leaf thingy —- that one not so much).
- While drinking my coffee in the wee hours of the morning I find myself mentally chanting Allah Akbar right along with the call to prayer.
- I feel naked when I go outside in a t-shirt and bermuda shorts. Along the same lines I raise my eyebrows when I see the new Indian girl at work wearing short sleeves. Hahahah it totally shocks me every time!
- It doesn’t even phase me until later that I’ve just seen a man pop out of a trunk with a shovel in his hand. Ten minutes later I think “wait that’s effed up even for here.”
And last, but certainly NOT least, it’s Wednesday night and I am stoked because tomorrow is Thursday, my new Friday. I don’t know what I’m doing yet, but I know it’ll be fun, and I won’t be wasting any time worrying over what I cannot control. whoop! whoop!