Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ramadan Kareem!

I am slowly realizing that Ramadan mixed with jet lag does not make for a pleasant experience.  Warning, this post is not all rainbows and happiness…
  Ramadan is an Islamic holiday in which Muslims fast during daylight hours.  The stores close for the majority of the day but open again in the evening until 2am.  Most business is held in the evening and women should dress more conservative than usual.  As a visitor to the UAE I must respect Ramadan and its traditions.  For me this means I cannot eat, drink or chew gum in public.  I am able to do those things in private but not where practicing Muslims could see me.
 The temperatures hit around 110F for the majority of the day with the heat index making it feel like 123F.  This is beginning to pose a problem with my hydration.  I was fairly naive about Ramadan and figured I would be just fine.  This notion is proving to be false.  I am constantly ducking into bathroom stalls, crouching in corners and hiding behind things to take a sip of the water in my purse.
  I am not able to eat regularly either.  The hotel has a breakfast buffet for those who are not participating in Ramadan.  I eat my breakfast, stuff my purse full of various food items and then do not eat again until 7pm when the restaurants are open again.  Very few things are open during the day to eat at and the hotel food is very expensive.  I usually eat 4 to 5 small meals a day so me only eating two meals a day is making my weight fluctuate but at least during Ramadan I have to dress conservative in my gypsy clothing.
 I am also struggling to get over my jet lag and am constantly sleeping.  The strange hours are not helping with jet lag either.  Last night, we had to go to the police station to get our finger prints done.  They scheduled us for 11pm and we did not arrive back to the hotel until 2:30am.  That was an enjoyable experience.  Happy Ramadan! 

Now for some rainbows and happiness!!!!

     Overall, my time here has been enjoyable.  I can see myself being happy living here.  I am embracing the new experiences.  There is such a diverse mix of people in the city and I am a big fan of diversity.  I also have met some excellent fellow teachers and we are having a good time together.  The hospitality here has been impeccable.  My sister and her family will be visiting me in September.  My niece called to tell me she was coming to see me and that she was going to bring her own bed to Abu Dhabi because she did NOT want to sleep in my bed.  So I think they will have a comfortable drive from Saudi Arabia to Abu Dhabi with Peyton’s bed in the car.    

Some of my Texas friends!

At Carrefour...the Wal-Mart of Abu Dhabi


RIP my dear friend the cable joint...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I have arrived!

Ashley has arrived!  Me and my four pieces of luggage (all overweight) have made it safely. I left Houston at 8:45pm on Thursday and flew for 14 hours to Qatar.  The flight was not full but unfortunately my row was completely full.  The two men in my row were not the most social of people so I was able to avoid the small talk.  The flight was actually pretty enjoyable.  I slept, watched movies, ate, read and slept some more.  Qatar Airways was impressive.  The food kind of sucked but everything else was pretty swanky.  All the flight attendants were dressed pretty fancy and their outfits coordinated exactly which I was impressed with.  They even had matching scrunchies which was the perfect addition to their outfits.  I also would like to recommend both movies I watched to everyone Diary of a Wimpy Kid was precious and Limitless was a really well done movie that I am surprised didn’t receive more attention.  After, we landed in Qatar we went through a line of about 200 people to go through security again and then we went to our gate and shortly after boarded our flight to Abu Dhabi. 

Ready to go!

This flight was thirty minutes and flew by.  We landed in Abu Dhabi and disembarked from the plane to be greeted by signs and people telling us where to go.  They herded us into a line and handed out our visas and stylish lanyards to let everyone know who we were.  We then moved to customs.  We waited in line to get our eyes scanned (I am not sure why we did this) and visas stamped.  We made our way through customs to search for our bags.  This is where the frustration began because me having four oversized bags and only me to move them I was somewhat in over my head.  Needless to say they did not all fit on one cart and I had a nice airport worker wheel my bags out.  I will use the power of my blonde hair in times of need J  We then walked into the outdoor sauna at around midnight on Saturday and it was much hotter than expected.  We all loaded onto a bus and headed to the Fairmont Hotel.  We were greeted at the hotel by many people and went downstairs to get our room keys and water.  Our bags were delivered to our rooms within thirty minutes.  I ordered room service and watched TV until I fell asleep around 3am on Saturday morning.  Now this hotel is probably the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in.  My bathtub and shower overlooks the ocean.  The bed is more comfortable than my bed at home.  There is a giant breakfast buffet and breakfast buffets are one of my top five favorite things.  The staff here is incredible and helps me with every little thing.  I think this is what my life was meant to be like and I surely could get used to this...
My Temporary Home

Seating Area

Restroom with a view of the water

My Tub/Shower with a Beach View

2am Snack
View from my room!