Sunday, 31 January 2010

Wish I'd had my camera

Face glued to the plane window, Aotearoa came into sight. The land of the long white cloud living up to it's name, fluffy, snow like clouds with peaks peeking through. I always get excited when home comes into sight, like a kid. I'm sure the people on the plane with me wonder at this, although the lady next to me understood. She was returning after a while, a lot longer than me so was fighting to get her sight, the bonus of a window seat.

It was funny, I recognised her from somewhere. I put that thought aside as she enjoyed Iceage II and I read my book. Watching out the window we got talking. It seems we did know each other from a past life, when our kids were in Playcentre. It's a small world. We chatted a bit, she's home for a wedding. I'm home to see my family. Must go and have my NZ tomato on Burgen bread with a cuppa while it's still hot.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Almost the hols

Only one more day of work, two sleeps until I'm on a plane doing that awful flight to NZ. It's such a long way. I'm flying at a reasonable time of day so at least I won't have an impossibly early start. I've got heaps to do, packing the least of it so I shouldn't be playing on the computer or re watching for the umpteenth dozen time Fried Green Tomatoes. It's one of my favourite movies, makes me laugh and makes me cry.

But tonight I needed a wind down. It's been a hectic week tying up the loose ends, catching up on friends and where they're heading, getting last minute bills paid and things bought for the trip. There are some things that just work out, all in good time. Lesley rode shot gun when I went to pay my utility bill, a whopping 318DHS for 6 months power and water. Amazing really, that's about 100NZD. I had to get a new wasel, a once a year renewal of my sim card and now my phone won't work. Worrying, so I might just have to head back to Etisalat to get that sorted.

I'm leaving on the exact day I landed last year, not something I wasn't aware of until yesterday when I finally printed my e ticket and talked with Tracey. Tracey and I arrived on the same day, on the same plane from Brisbane, sitting next to each other without realising for quite some time that we were heading in the same direction. Very much the same direction, to the same apartment block and the same school for the first six months. We were laughing about that last night.

So, I have a bit to get done tomorrow then I'm on holiday, much needed. I've dodged most of the sickness others have had, long may that last. I'm in NZ for two weeks, I don't want to waste a moment of that.My next post might just contain a photo from home, a lazing on the beach in the sunshine photo. Well, that might be wishful thinking looking at the weather forecast, we shall see.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

One year on...

You know you're a local when:

You can negotiate a UAE roundabout without hesitation
You can negotiate a UAE roundabout at speed
You can talk on your cell while negotiating a UAE roundabout
You resist the urge to give someone the bird when there's a near miss at a UAE roundabout
You stop getting lost in Dubai
You can follow someone's verbal directions in Abu Dhabi
The bar staff at your local say "Margarita?" soon as you arrive
You know the names of most of the bar staff
The cafe staff don't even ask but just make you that much needed double espresso
The people at the post office greet you with a smile and ask how you are
You know most of the people at the rugby club on quiz night, even if it's only the second time you've been there
You've had the misfortune of crashing into an Emirati when out and about in your car (luckily not a big one but all my fault!)
You've camped in the desert overnight
You've plunged off the top of a sand dune in your 4wd
You can speak enough Arabic to make the locals smile and want to teach you more
You can ask for coffee in Arabic and be understood
You've swum in the pool at the top of a falaj after exploring an oasis
You've lounged by a 5 star pool for an afternoon or two
Everywhere you go you see familiar faces and are greeted warmly by others

It's almost been a year since I arrived in Al Ain, an interesting and at times difficult year. One of change, endings and beginnings. One of losses and gains. A year worthy of reflection.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

An evening in

There's something special about this place, something that means people stay in touch with each other. Take tonight. I was at a course late and when I got home Debbie was here along with Cora who helps me with my housework issues once a fortnight and Lesley. They were well underway with whatever I had left in the cupboard, we had to go out for supplies.

Rita also needed supplies and called in to pick them up on the way home from the pool. She stayed for one, Lesley brought a in pot of yummy vege soup, we made garlic bread. Presto, a girls night in. We moaned about the things we normally moan about, had a laugh about other things and generally enjoyed each others company.

I was keen to go out, the others piked. There's been so much sickness here lately. I had a bad cold, the others have had the flu, bronchitis and very bad coughs. Seems like my late nights and hard living have kept me immune. "Yeah right" as the Tui ad would say, as if. Right now I'm doing my best to keep well so I can enjoy every minute of my trip home. Only 9 more sleeps, looking forward to it.

The photo's one I took in Antwerp in the sculpture park. I was looking through my photos and this one took my eye so I thought I'd add it here.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Worked it last

Driving in Dubai is like walking in Rome. Toss out the map and follow your nose, let your intuition take you to where you have to go. Yep, didn't get lost today. Went straight to all the places I needed to including home by relaxing and using common sense. It helped that I'm reading a book a the moment called Gut Feelings by Gerd Gigerenzer. It's a good read, the Sunday Times comment that it was "fascinating and provocative.........Gut Feeling may well be the recipe for a simpler, less stressful life" really appealed to me.

It's Saturday evening, where did the weekend go. I've caught up on housework and work work and managed to get my Toyota serviced as well as going to Dubai. Roll on next weekend, my last here for a couple of weeks. An early night's in order, to relax and enjoy my new book.

Friday, 15 January 2010

14 more sleeps

It's only 14 more sleeps until I'm back in NZ, 14 plus one on the long plane journey. I'm ready for a slice of NZ summer, a short slice as I've only got a two week break. It's funny working through the time there's usually a holiday in my other world, funny being in winter. Not a cold winter mind, but cold enough that I went shopping for winter clothes on Tuesday.

Everything was on sale, a whole mall of shops with big signs. I took it as a sign. I bought some long jumpers, trousers, tops and of course a pair of shoes to match it all. The man offered me a handbag and I resisted, maybe today's job. It's nice wearing new clothes, a new look and dressing for a different season. Looking at the temperatures in NZ I may have to pack some of these goodies to wear there.

So looking forward to catching up on my family and friends in NZ, especially hoping that the new family addition will arrive a little early. The photo is one Lesley took on New Years day on top of a very high dune. I refrained from putting the climbing up photos, they were not very dignified.

Long week

It's been along week. I went to a work conference on Saturday so it seems like ages since I had a day off. The conference was good, especially good as it was at Yas Island where the F1 race was recently. I could see the track from my hotel room and the flash hotel in the middle of the track. I left my camera on the table, big mistake, so there's no photos to show. The amazing thing was that there were a cluster of large hotels with no one in them. The venue was built for a purpose, nothing has filled that gap as yet. I talked to one of the hotel staff and he said that the F1 week was busy, not now. It was a good venue, if a little difficult to find.

Getting mislaid has been a theme of 2010 and it's only a few days old. Well to be honest, I got lost a bit in 2009 as well. In Dubai especially. I have maps. They don't work in Dubai, the roads keep changing, signs for off ramps get covered and all sorts of mayhem like that. No wonder then that getting anywhere for an appointment causes stress. Many phone calls and stress. I can now get to Al Wasel Rd, I just have to be able to find Sarah and Hayden's new place. Sarah had her baby the other day, wee Olivia. I'm going to visit on Saturday, inshallah.

Another memorable getting lost included driving halfway to Abu Dhabi on the way home from Dubai to Al Ain, yes the long way home. It was dark and I did have a bad navigator with me. We worked out an alternate route and ended up having to stop and ask a policeman. I could see where I needed to be on a parallel road, just didn't know how to get there. I also thought reversing down a 6 lane highway wasn't the done thing and the off road possibilities looked daunting. Many of my friends won't drive in Dubai, I don't blame them. I'll see if I can break the jinx on Saturday when I go to Al Wasel Road then Murdiff.

The photos are of our new years camp site deep in sand dune country, amazing to see just how vast the area was by climbing to the top a a very high dune; a camel track sunset and the long way down.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Happy new years 2

Lesley and I climbed a very big dune in the morning and were lucky enough to capture a large herd of camels as they grazed the dunes. These are two of the many photos I took.

Happy new years

The desert camping trip was fun, especially the drive in over the dunes. I'm really pleased I had no idea of where I needed to drive before we set out. Otherwise I might have stayed home and missed Mary-Anne calling me her hero after getting us through some particularly tricky bits. She was an excellent co pilot. Lesley and Ivan were my backseat drivers, also useful in the tricky bits when I was freaking out.

What an achievement to make it in, dropping over the edges and going a little sideways down the sides of the soft dunes, fishtailing through the sand and watching others in anticipation. Letting the tyres down is the key, closing my eyes and hoping helped. We arrived at the campsite and set about putting up the tents, lighting the fire and watching the sun setting on 2009 over the dunes with a cold one or several. It's been a year, a year of change and upheaval. One best put to bed and we did that in style.

The photos are the sunset, Rau negotiating the final drop into the camp site and my tent with the moon rising.