Thursday, March 13, 2008

We're not in Kansas anymore...

We are finally in Abu Dhabi! :) And it was NOT as easy getting here as I would have liked.

Stu left Greenville (South Carolina) without us, headed for Memphis, and didn't get to see us until Abu Dhabi. Poor Stu (read with extreme sarcasm) had to fly First Class WITHOUT a baby.

So, that said, Kaden and I left Greenville headed for Dulles after dealing for an hour and a half with United because I didn't have a paper ticket to fly with Kaden. They told me I just couldn't fly that day then. Once I talked to our travel folks and the Qatar Airways people (our carrier for the overseas leg) I was assured we'd get to Washington Dulles and all would be right with the word.

Nope. I get to Dulles at 9:30 PM and had to haggle with the Qatar Airways woman until I boarded (late, and making the plane delayed) at 11:20 PM. Needless to say, by this time I had a starving, grouchy baby, and Mommy wasn't doing much better.

Kaden did great on the first part of the trips... until we get to the 14-hour flight, of course. He decided that sleep was overrated and decided to take cat napes of about ten minutes apiece, adding up to about an hour worth of "nap time" for the whole flight. Being that it should have been our "night time", we failed to sleep for something like 38 hours straight.

As far as Qatar Airways goes, it is a nice airline. The food was good, and interesting, and the flight staff was very helpful. They all loved the baby so they would stop by to sit on the floor and play with him every 20 minutes or so, haha.

We had our first "this isn’t America" experience with the first meal they served. The flight attendant asked me which menu option I'd like to enjoy... My options were roast lamb stew or pan-fried chicken. Now, I have a dish I make that I lovingly refer to as "pan-fried chicken". I cut up pieces of chicken, coat them with some flour and seasonings, and fry them in oil in a skillet..... Not quite. The chicken was "pan-fried" in a way that looked roasted to me, and was doused with a sauce of tomatoes and some sort of green seasoning.... it was new to my palate. But it was good. Also different was we got a package of wafer crackers and a little bit of cream cheese to spread on them. Not something I would have considered. Thank you, Brits!

After the meal when everyone ELSE on the plane turned in for a good 8 to 12-hour nap, Kaden and I alternated between looking out the window, playing on the floor, screaming our (his) heads off, etc. It was not quite the pleasant, restful flight I was so hoping for. Red eye or not.

"Brunch" was a fabulous cheese and onion Quiche with sautéed mushrooms and spinach on the side. We had our "tea" after our meals, lest a Brit keel over dead without such a staple in everyday life.

Qatar. Now, when I first got to Dulles, the reality of what we were doing began to rear its ugly head in the form of the folks waiting for the plane. I left Greenville on a plane of 8 folks, all of which were Caucasian, many of which with fair skin and hair. I get to the waiting area of Qatar Airways flight 52 and I am reduced to only one of THREE Caucasians on the whole full flight (at least 200 people, probably many more... the plane was ungodly huge) and the ONLY blonde. Since I was warned about this phenomenon, I took it in stride. But most of the women did in fact have full burkas on. This was new.

Doha Qatar is a beautiful city to fly into at night. They have huge buildings that line the Persian Gulf and the lights are really a treat. I was awed.

It definitely is strange being a Western woman here and travelling alone with an infant. For starters, the people here love babies and they have no reservations about coming up and touching your child. Secondly, the men here WILL stare at you and will rush over to "lend a hand" all the time. I get through security at Qatar and I had to tell at least ten men that I didn't need help with my stuff and could find my gate on my own.

But then Hell starts all over again as Qatar Airways tells me yet again that I cannot fly with my baby because they do not have proper documentation. I am a 45-minute flight to Abu Dhabi and they are telling me that I cannot leave THEIR country with him. (Here I am thinking, not only did MY country let me leave with him, but I am in a foreign country, my phone stopped working in Washington, and I have been travelling with a baby for a whole day... I can't NOT get to Abu Dhabi tonight...) So I do what any level-headed, rational person would do. I lose my mind. After the idiot woman told me to "sit down Ma'am" for the tenth time, I did, and bawled my eyes out. After a solid two days of no sleep, and a baby who hates me and just wants his bed, I'd had enough of dealing with little things. A very nice burka-clad mom sent her ten-year-old over with Kleenex. That was nice.

Ultimately, everything got figured out and we did get to fly (delaying yet another flight) and we did get to Abu Dhabi.

Once there, my Western-womanhood worked for me again and I was picked out of a ten-thousand-person line for Customs and ushered to the empty line that was for "UAE nationals only". I got through Customs in less than ten minutes. The woman at the counter didn't even look at Kaden who was thankfully now asleep in his carrier covered by a blanket. Nice to know the airlines need proper documentation, but the country its self... naw, no big deal.

Seeing Matt waiting for us in the crowd of Arabs was a welcoming sight. I'm looking through faces and there at the end I see the lone white boy. Matt!

Two hours later we got to come back and get Stu. I've never been so excited to see that man either. Haha.

The driving here is interesting to say the least. The speed limits are somewhere around 80-100 kilometers per hour. Matt was doing close to 160 and we passed a cop car like he was standing still. Apparently they don't pull you over for much, haha.

So we are staying with Matt until the housing situation gets worked out. They didn't actually have as much together as I'd hoped. We have no idea when we'll be getting our place, and even where it will be. We could move on Sunday to a small apartment right next to a huge Mosque and hear prayer calls blasting through our house five times per day (we've been advised against this by everyone we've met here) or we could wait and see if Al Ain is a go, or wait longer still for an apartment here in Abu Dhabi. We're not sure what we'd like to do yet, but we'll have to see.

I killed a spider before I took a shower tonight that looked exactly like sand, haha. I saw some sand running across the bathroom wall and it took me getting within inches to see that it was actually a spider.

It is 2 AM now and Kaden thinks it is morning. (He is sadly mistaken and Mommy hopes he figures it out soon)

I am sure I will think of more, since so very much has happened in such a short amount of time, but for now I will call it good. I will update you all as things change. (or stay the same, whatever.)

Also, I have not had a chance to upload pictures yet but when I do, I will post them.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you arrived safely, if not soundly. You all will be in our continued prayers during your stay there.

    Shelly (one of your mom's many cousins from Ohio)