Saturday, April 21, 2012

Back To School? But Break Was So Much Fun?

Meg and I

View from the dhow cruise
Well, we're about to start week three post-break and so far the time is flying. I barely remember last week and I can only hope that the rest of the year goes by as fast. I've been very fortunate in regards to work. Being a pull out support teacher definitely has its advantages, the biggest of which being the fact that I get to work with a variety of age groups. For the most part the kids are really sweet, with a few terrors thrown in there to keep me on my toes, but that is the same in the states. There are already a few that I really enjoy and look forward to seeing. (Yes, some of them are the terrors!) Enough about work though, I've done a lot of fun stuff over the last two weekends and that's way more exciting.
Dessert 4 wheeling
Hadi made me hold a bird
     As I imagine you've heard, my boss is from my home town. Her two daughters came to Abu Dhabi for a week over break, so I got to meet and hang out with them, which was a great time. Her youngest was high school buddies with my great friend Sarah, so it was a lot of fun to chat with her. Since Lisa was trying to fit in so much fun stuff for her girls, I was able to tag along and do a lot of this cool stuff as well.  We went on a dhow cruise that left out of Oman just outside Fujairah, went four wheeling in the dessert, and made a visit to an Emirati farm.  
Horses at the farm
     The dhow cruise was really nice and relaxing, but we had a bit of an adventure on the way there. We didn't realize that the boat was leaving out of Oman, which for those of you unfamiliar with the Middle East, is another country! So my friends and I drive 2.5 hours and between the three of us we have a passport, a UAE ID card (sort of acts like a passport/enhanced drivers' lic.) and a UAE driver's license. We didn't even think to bring any ID because we didn't realize we would be going through border control. I always have mine with me as I do not yet have my UAE ID card. Naturally, we assumed we are screwed and will probably be turning around for another 2.5. We decide to give it a whirl and the guy at border control is actually super nice and makes an exception because we had driven so far. I firmly believe if we had only driven the hour from Dubai, we would have been making a U-turn! Crisis was averted though, and we enjoyed a sunny day lounging on a boat, eating and snorkeling. 
Rocking my keffiyeh
My new friend 'Twiggy"
     The next day, Lisa's Emirati friends took us four wheeling in the dessert, followed by a nice visit to an Emirati farm. There we held birds, rode a horse and hung out with a dog I affectionately named twiggy. It was an amusing night to say the least, complete with photos taken while sitting in front of a painting of horses and holding a toy gun and toy violin-type instrument. As I read this back, it doesn't sound that funny, but trust was! We were all crying by the time the photos were done. 

Ready for the Eagles!!
   That was my last hoorah before break was over, but don't worry, I did a lot of fun stuff the next weekend as well! On the 12th (mom's bday) I 
Blurry, but those white blobs are the Eagles!
Fireworks after the concert
went to see the Eagles live in Dubai. To say that this was the best $100 I've spent since I've been here is a gross understatement. This was by far the most amazing concert I've ever been to. Partly because it was the Eagles, and I have grown up listening to and loving them and partly because it was the first time they have ever been to the middle east. There was this amazing energy in the crowd and it was spectacular to be a part of. Despite the fact that all the older people looked at me like "Does this girl even know who the Eagles are?" I enjoyed myself immensely....and sang every word to prove that, "Yes, I do know who they are and probably love them more than you!" They played Hotel California to start off their encore set and it was awesome! If you have never heard of the band, you at least know this song, and when it came on, the crowd energy definitely turned up a notch. Just as I was beginning to worry that they wouldn't play Desperado, they closed with it and I actually teared up listening to it.  Overall, it was the best experience I've had here and I am so glad that my friend Shannon asked me to go with her. They sound as great as they do on record and that is a pretty impressive feat for a group that has been together for so long!
Couldn't stop after brunch!
Mona, Mo and I at brunch
Mo and I at brunch
     The next day I drove into Abu Dhabi for boozy brunch number three and had a wonderful time as always. I got to hang out with the regular brunch crew as well as a few new additions. Mona's cousins were in town and they were a lot of fun to hang out with. We love Mona, so we love all of her relatives as well! This was a really good deal because we were allowed to float between all three restaurants at the Intercontinental hotel. Needless to say, we all left sufficiently stuffed and then spent the rest of the night hanging out and doing a little souk shopping!
     I'll leave the adventures of last week to a new post as I am sleepy and think this one is really quite long already! 'Til next time blog friends!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It's April Already??

     I can't believe it has been two weeks since my last post. I guess time flies when you're having fun! Since I last surfaced in blog world, I have gone to Al Maya Island twice, made another visit to Dubai, gotten my apartment as set up as it's going to get, been to an Emirati wedding, seen Hunger Games, used my gym membership for the first time, went to my first rooftop BBQ, and have been generally enjoying life.
     Despite the fact that Mike and Sarah were insistent that I stay away from boats, I have gone twice to Al Maya island. Both times by boat, and can you imagine, I have survived to talk about it! Anyway, this island is great. My friends and I have gone for the last two Fridays, and it is so nice to just relax by the beach and have a Corona! It is free as long as you get over there by 2 and is complete with beach, infinity pool, swim up bar, waiters, and DJ. The place is packed with people and there are always lots of beautiful men walking around, so no complaints from this girl.
Magnolia Bakery!
     I also went to Hunger Games twice. I had told one friend I'd see it with her, but then couldn't wait to see it until I got back to Al Ain, so I went in AD. I loved it! I was sad I couldn't see it with my Daniele sisters, but at least I got to see it! It was as good, if not better than the book, and if you haven't seen it yet, or read the books, you should do both!! The only thing that stinks about seeing movies here is the fact that movie etiquette does not exist. People will answer phone calls and have full conversations in the middle of the movie. It would drive my brother nuts! I've gotten over it though, and my love of going to the movies far outweighs my annoyance with my fellow moviegoers.
Outside for the fountains!
     I made another visit to Dubai as well. This time I went with Mona and Mo, and we spent the entire day at the Dubai Mall. The place just swallows you up, but it is pretty cool. While we were there we visited Magnolia bakery, which is located inside the Bloomingdale's.  It felt just like home! We also sat outside for dinner so we could enjoy the fountain shows. All in all, a very nice day.
     My first Emirati wedding was spectacular, and I imagine that they can get way more elaborate than this. The men and women are separated, so we had to trek around back to the ladies' entrance. It was worth the walk. When you walk in, your eyes are darting everywhere to take it all in. The sparkle, the flowers, the elaborate dresses, big hair, airbrushed makeup, and the runway that cuts through the center of the room make for quite the first impression. We were greeted very warmly, and introduced to all of Mona's sisters. Mona (different from Mona who came to Dubai) is a coworker who invited us to join in the festivities.

     We didn't actually see her until about an hour in, but her sisters took care of us and let us pick a table. There were 60 10-tops to choose from, so we picked one close to the stage. From the moment we sat until the time we left, we were bombarded with drinks, food and desserts. The music started and women and children were up on that stage dancing all night. That is, until the men came in, at which point they covered up again, but it was awesome to see all of the beautiful women without their abayas for a few hours. They were great dancers and seriously the most wonderful hosts ever. They must have checked on us at least ten times. I am excited to go to more weddings in the future, because I imagine every one is a little different and just as beautiful.
Ice cream for Mo's bday!
      Sunday was Mo's birthday, so I took her to the gym! In all fairness, after the gym we spent the day by the pool and swim up bar. I finally put my gym membership to use after purchasing it a week prior and it felt good to finally exercise again. I've been pretty negligent since I've gotten here, but I plan to be more diligent once school starts back up. While at the pool, we met some nice Scottish people and it turns out two of them live here and are golf pros just down the street at the Rugby club. I think I'll check it out later this week. I have yet to see the place and wouldn't mind hitting a bucket at the driving range for some stress relief!
    We ended the night with a rooftop BBQ at Lisa's apartment complex. It was a great time. We met several other teachers and some Lebanese engineers. Lisa's friend who will take us dune bashing on Saturday was also there. The food and company were wonderful and I hope that there are more BBQs to come!
Kitchen sans washer/dryer
    I've been running around getting things for my apartment for the last two weeks. Every time I leave the apartment I buy more stuff and every time I return home, I remember something I forgot! I think I am pretty settled now, and won't need anything else major until I move to a new apartment in a few months. I am the proud owner of a washer/dryer and my last load of laundry is currently in right now! I am glad to be semi-settled and look forward to being in a more permanent home once this lease is up. Aside from that, I've just been spending times with friends and loving life here in Al Ain.

     I will try to be better about posting more, and as I settle into a routine and get out of vacation mode, I think it will be easier to get to. I will also try to start taking more pictures! See you again soon blog world. Inshallah!