But this weekend could not have been overshadowed by the typical UAE things I don’t like… it was THAT much fun.
Friday night we went to a traditional Brazilian Barbeque to celebrate Rainy and Marcelo’s marriage. We took them to that Brazilian restaurant I told you about on the wedding day to celebrate with them personally, but this weekend was to be with all of their close friends here to celebrate.
It started off sort of hectic because Marcelo had decided the day before that it should be held on Friday, so plans became rather hurried. We showed up at “the French guy’s” house, as Rainy had called him, around 5:30. Now, there are few people in this city that can make you feel inferior. Let’s face it, everywhere you look, there are poor workers walking the streets, and plenty of nearly falling down buildings that house the less fortunate. But “the French guy” could one-up the best of us. Merick, (the French guy) it turns out is a fighter pilot here about to get his commercial pilot’s license… he will go home to France for the test and hopes to get a job with (you guessed it!) Air France. In the meantime he resides here in Abu Dhabi in a gorgeous three story villa with his Dutch wife, Carline, a teacher, and three gorgeous and polite children… oh, and their live-in full time Nanny/housemaid.
I am pleased to say that, mercifully, not all French people are like the French people they keep in France. Merick is a well educated, very well-spoken man who has a keen interest in politics (yep, even American politics). We drooled over the fantasy of living in such a house as we were given the tour.
Karline is Dutch and regaled us with stories from “back in Belgium” before she learned to speak French when she and Merick had first met. Their children, Emma (8), Loanne (almost 6), and Alec (just turned 4), each speak three languages: French, Dutch, and English. Their parents told us they do not speak English well. Wrong. I asked Loanne to be careful what she gave the baby because he could choke on small things and she started chatting up a storm, telling me all about her school, her favorite things, and repeatedly, how cute my “bebe” was.
Just like the wedding, once the Brazilians arrived, it feels like home. Not home like we think of home, but you just feel like a Brazilian “home” must feel like with them. Even with the language barrier you feel so welcome and such a part of the crowd (maybe it's the ample both-cheeks-kissing to greet each other).
Marcelo got to know the waiter we had on the wedding night and he came over early to prepare the marinade for the meat (then he had to go to work, lame!). There was so much food, and beer, which felt even more mischievious as it was Ramadan and here we were eating and drinking during daylight hours outside (though not in view of Muslims… fear not)!
The Brazilian women do not really speak English, some of them have a few words, but it was nice because they understood some of my Spanish (words like “zapatos” interchange pretty easily).
In America I would never start a sentence to a child, “Do you speak English?” But I did with the Brazilian kids and of course, they speak perfect English and were, like the French kids, so well-behaved and courteous.
This was just one of the times here when I have to take a step back and remind myself what an opportunity this really is. I will never be so fortunate as to blend cultures like I get to here. Just at this one barbeque there were three Americans, a French guy, a Dutch woman, 15 Brazilians, a Russian woman, and the wonderful mix that are their children!
Kaden was an angel as usual. He refused to take a nap in their (to him) weird house so he stayed up with only one nap under his belt for the day, until we left at 10:30 and then was still up the whole ride home in his car seat and even a while after we got home! Big boy! It got very humid after the sun went down and he was sooooo sweaty. He even drank three bottles with just water in them. Poor kid. But he was a great sport about it! Here are some pictures from the night:
Emma and Alec sharing their photo album with Kaden.
Loanne just loved hanging out with Kaden.
Loanne's turn to show Kaden some pictures.
Kaden beginning the climb!
I don't remember the waiter's name, but here are him, Rainy and Marcelo putting chicken hearts on skewers.
Kaden with Suyan.
Their Mosque has green neon lights!
Some of the Brazilian children.
Kaden with "grandpa" I couldn't for the life of me understand his name and I thought asking 4 times was just rude.
Marcelo cooking the meat. Yum!
Side dishes (see the sweat on poor Olavo's shirt?)
Kaden and Olavo at the end of the night... Kaden was pretty much done.
Sweaty baby reaching for Daddy.
And this is Kaden's new favorite place to play... such a big helper in the kitchen!