Saturday, March 29, 2008

Welcome to Abu Dhabi!

So this weekend we went to the carpet and fish souks. Wow, the fish one smelled FABULOUS! lol
We went to the Mina Shopping Center which has an indoor carpet area and a Co-op so we could get some more things we needed for the house (for "furnished apartments", they are awfully lacking in the necessities).
The fish souk is cool though. They have little "kiosk"-type stations where all the fishermen have their catches laid out for purchase. Everything is freshly caught that morning. We were going to get some prawns and fish but then we decided against it because we wanted to eat at one of the little resturants down by the water and didn't want our fish sitting for an hour in the 120+ degree car!
We decided on this cool looking Indian-inspired resturant down by the port, which turned out to be gorgeous inside. It was a buffet and we all felt very underdressed to be in there! The food was very good. Stu and I sure are getting a taste for Arabic cuisine! About half-way through the meal, this little French girl came up with her brother to see the "bebe". She was talking to her brother in French then out of nowhere started talking to Kaden in English. I am so amazed how ignorant we are as a society. Our children don't know 2+ language by the time they are 5! And her annunciation was impecable! Her name was Celia and like most "child-rearing" here, we didn't see her Mother for a good half-hour before she finally realized she was gone, lol. Mom came up to scold her but she was back in under five minutes, with little brother in tow. Hands all over Kaden, as everyone does here. They have no concept of "don't put your dirty hands in the baby's mouth"... I just look at it as a way for him to build up his immune system! Sigh...
Yesterday we went to the Marina Mall. We were going to go back to the fish souk, but it was so ungodly hot yesterday mid-day that we decided air conditioning was a better plan. AND IT IS MARCH!!! I cannot imagine it getting hotter... but it will! It has been right around 100 recently... apparently it was as hot as 105 on Thursday, and the humidity isn't even that bad yet. It is worse in teh morning than at night.
Anyway, so we hit IKEA, and walked around, Stu price-checking all the designer handbags, lol. They have just in this one Mall: Dior, TWO Armani stores, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Guess, Hugo Boss, Chanel, and probably thirty more I am forgetting. A purse in the Coach store we looked at was 9,500 Dirham... about 2,600 bucks! And that was just for a little one, when we first walked in, lol. And you constantly see these women covered in black from head to toe, but sporting a Coach purse! haha It made me think of my cousin Aubrey... She would lose her mind in this mall! lol
We decided to eat at Fudruckers, but the wait was ridiculous, so we went to this place called "Moka Cafe" which was right down the way from Fudruckers. The wait for the food was nearly an hour, which is insane, because it has been our experience that service in this country has been like nothing we're used to in the States! But, once we finally did get our food, it was very good. I have leftovers that I get to eat for lunch today! I am excited about that! haha
Anyway, below are lots of pictures from our weekend. Remember, the work week here is Sunday through Thursday, so today (Sunday) is our Monday. Enjoy! :)
We got new plants! See on top of the entertainment center? :) Hopefully I won't kill these!

I tried to show the detail of the carpet we got a little better. It is so pretty... and it is made of sheep's wool. A very good quality carpet.

Daddy and baby hanging out on the couch.

Bright white, there's-no-way-I-live-in-the-Middle-East, Sydney!

Stuart! I picked out that shirt... like it?

Per Mimi's request... here are some things that seem familiar... but are oddly foreign, lol. Above is "Strawberry Tang".

"Sour Cream and Onion Pringles"


The Mosque at Madinat Zayed Shopping Center, where the gold souks are.

Instead of having several competing stores scattered throughout town like we have in America (i.e. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc.), they have "areas" for competing sales. Above is the "mobile phone" area very close to our house. If you look closely you can read the names of the shops. That sure would make "shopping for the best deal" much easier in the States if they were literally right next door, eh?

This is the little cafe we like to go to. It is about a block from our house. We sit outside (for now) and enjoy the weather over a sandwich and coffee. It's very nice.

This is our apartment building... for now. Maybe some day we won't live next door to the Mosque!!!

This is the building they are working on next door... just thought you might as well have a visual for all the complaining I do about the "construction next door".

A really tall, pretty building downtown. :)

"Stunna Shades"... hehe, I couldn't resist! :P

Madinat Zayed Shopping Center. This is where all the gold souks are.

The entrance to the Emirates Palace Hotel

The Emirates Palace Hotel. This picture does not do justice to the absolute emormity of this hotel!

The public beach... as you can tell by looking at the hot little thing at "one o'clock", plenty of people are just fine wearing whatever they want... (things that make you go, "buuuhhhhhuuuhhhh.")

Looking at the city from near the Marina Mall

The Marina Mall. Hello IKEA! :)

The carpet souk

The port down by the fish souk

View of the Gulf from the Corniche

A portrait of the Sheik by the Emirates Palace Hotel

Some buildings... look at the detail on the middle building. Architecture here is pretty incredible.

Look at those legs!!!

Baby happier now that he can fall on a comfy carpet instead of bonking his head on the tile!

Hot and sweaty baby in the car yesterday... It was around 100 degrees.

This is one of the more "ghetto" buildings in the city. You don't see a lot of this...

Leaving our block...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Both Eyes Open...

Before we came here, I was very uneducated about "Arabs" as a whole. I could have seen someone in the U.S. and referred to them as an "Arab" without having any idea from where they actually originated. They could have been Pakistani, Iraqi, Bangladeshi, or even Indian and I would have had very little idea that there was a difference.

It's kind of like when you live in good old Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (or any arbitrary small-town-American-city) and everyone around you is Caucasian. You just say "they're white" and never think anything of it. When you see people walking around in the shops and on the streets, you assume they are your average just-like-me American, and go on about your day.

Talk about a change in perspective in just a few short weeks since we moved here! Last night Stu and I (and Kaden of course!) went shopping at LuLu's, which is just a little grocery store inside of a small mall, across the street and down the block from our house. When we first walked in I noticed an Indian couple and their daughter looking at dresses in the window of a shop. I looked around more and saw a group of Pakistani gentlemen laughing together in a corner. I saw an Emirate man on his Blackberry, walking in a very determined way for the exit.

Then I had to laugh to myself. In just a few weeks I have gone from "Look at all the Arabs", to seeing the melting pot of this city for what it is... and taking each culture for what it's worth. It's fascinating to me how closed-minded we can be when we are stuck inside of our own lives and problems. We don't give the world a chance to teach us something about ourselves.

Now, back to the white-so-you-must-be-American misconception. Again, in Idaho, 9 times out of 10, you're going to be right, they are American. They are just what you thought. Here, when I see other white people, it has become common practice to try and listen to them speak so I can pick out the language and guess where they are from! There ARE no other Americans here. I hear that there ARE some, haha, but the only other ones I've run into have been other "from Stu's job" families.

So, it's exciting in the basic familiarity sense, it is nice to see other "Caucasians" wandering around, but yesterday I hear this blonde guy tell his female companion, "Roight, I need to pick up a proper spoon, since the one I'm using is for shoogah, isn't it?" And they both laugh as she agrees. Cool, this guy is obviously a British import.

Then there was the stunning ("white") girl with light brown eyes that I met on the bus in Qatar waiting for the plane to depart for Abu Dhabi. She smiled at me and I said "hello." She said "Ciao". Qua??? I totally expected her to say "hello" back and to have an American accent. She turned out to be Italian and didn't understand a WORD I was saying in English. I asked her if she was going to Abu Dhabi... she got the Abu Dhabi part of the question, said "Si". Then we sat there and grinned at each other, probably more to ourselves at our complete failure at conversation.

It happens all the time here though. I have seen (heard) a lot of Germans, Brits, obviously, I've heard some Spanish (Spain, not Mexican, heh), Italian... and then you get into the fuzzy side of things where there is a merge between "you look Arab" and "you look white"... such as, the Israelis. They typically are lighter skinned, some have green, or light brown eyes, lighter hair, but they are generally not as well-liked because of where they are from (huh, no idea what THAT'S like, lol). So it's become a game of sorts, "Guess the race and nationality!"

All joking aside, it really has been an invaluable experience already as much as I have learned not only about the other cultures I am surrounded by, but about myself. I've learned a lot about my personality, why it is the way it is, and about the things that are most important to me. On the flip side, I have learned plenty of things that I would have thought would have been very important to me, when in this country and culture, are trivial at best.

It's already been, and I know will continue to be, such an amazing opportunity to learn and grow as a person. Who knows, maybe when we get back to America, I'll finally be able to answer the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Because, to my knowledge, I've never been able to answer it. Here's hoping! :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Eurpoean Outlets

I tried to take more pictures today, but the batteries in BOTH cameras are dead and the charger for them we brought with us won't plug in to our new European outlets, and for whatever reason, our converter we got seems to be on hiatus, or otherwise took a crap on us. So that sucks.

BUT, what I was going to show was the purple sweet potatoes they have here. I was making baby food for the (duh) baby, and the potatoes themselves are white inside, like our normal russet potatoes, but the outsides are no-kidding-purple! And they turn an even deeper purple when they get wet. Pretty cool.

Then, there were these two birds sitting on the windowsill in the living room this afternoon. They saw me and apparently are prior acquaintances of glass, because it didn't faze them in the slightest. They were black birds with a yellow beak and feet. Interesting. I've never seen this type of bird before. Just one more "new" item UAE has! :)

In other news, I was just a boring house-wife today... I made baby food, baked cookies (yeah, seriously, heh), did three loads of laundry (you can see how well I'm doing at this whole "stay-at-home-Mom thing... ALL laundry gets done ONE day of the week! haha), dishes, as with every other day, dishwashers apparently haven't made it to this side of the planet yet... a shame. What else? Took care of Sir of course... he's been on a book reading kick. He'll get bored of playing and will grunt and when I look at him he will look at the bookshelf then back at me. I say, "Do you want to read a book?" and he'll just grin. Heh. So we read A LOT today. I am reading one of Obama's books right now (side note: if you haven't read it, read "Dreams From My Father." Trust me. It's worth it.) and I started reading to him. He doesn't care if it has pictures, he just likes to sit on my lap and listen to inflection in my voice. So it works. He thinks I am doing something just for him, while I get reading time in! :)

After forgetting Easter (which is still obviously bothering me), I am beginning to wonder how it is going to affect me not being surrounded by "Hallmark" during the holidays. I mean, anyone who's EVER gone into a Wal-Mart has seen the displays for whatever the next holiday is... months in advance of the holiday. Most of us ignore it, or make some crack about how this is "capitalism at its best", making money off all of us ignorant souls who know no better. But, what will I do now that I won't see ANY Hallmark-esque advertising during the holidays? No Christmas decorations, no 4th of July, not even St. Patty's Day??? It's weird to think about. The fact that I saw online late on Sunday that it was Easter, and that I otherwise would have had NO idea it was a little unnerving. haha

Anyway, the baby is up. Thank you, Mosque! You know, they say they "only" pray 5 times per day... that is complete crap. They actually pray 5 times per day for five solid minutes, THEN they END the prayer time (over the loudspeaker) about a half hour later... So they "pray" (read "yell") 10 times per day...

I am going to go start dinner now, but I will try to get camera batteries either charged, or get some more!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


As you may have heard, we were without a working TV when we first got into our apartment. Well, we finally got one and it is crazy how much you miss a little Family Guy when you go without! lol Even Sir missed it... Look:

Last night for dinner, Stu and I met Josh down the street at this little cafe. I had an iced carmel coffee and a sandwich, which was the first thing I had here that I didn't care for. (the fries were good however)

After dinner Stu and Josh went to the mall to go get hair cuts and I walked (in a low-cut top and tight jeans) ALL BY MYSELF with Kaden in his stroller, home. It was maybe a quarter mile. I was so excited I finally did something all alone. I mean, I've gone down to the Haji store a few times, and taken out the trash, but the majority of my "going out" is when Stu is with me.

Anyway, so feel proud. I'm taking baby steps! :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Roof.

Baby stoked about getting dirty on the roof... Look at his FEET! So gross! lol But he loved it!

We have plants up there at least. :)

Happy, happy roof baby!

Construction workers working on the building next to ours. (Also fun in the wee hours of the morning)

The view from the roof...

Photos from today...

Kaden's answer to: "Quit climbing on the bed, you're going to hurt yourself."

The Mosque across the street... yay for 5 AM wake-up calls, ahem, "prayers"...

This is what a typical Arab "foreigner" looks like here.

And this is your typical "local" or Emirate. They also often wear a checkered red and white head scarf.

Mom knows nothing... back to climbing on, and cruising around, the bed!