Monday, 31 May 2010

Oh no!

There are occupational hazards in all jobs, I know this and in some jobs these can be fatal. I'm not denying that others have it worse than those who work with small children. I am saying that there are hazards when working with small children that don't bear thinking about.

In my job I work with children, small and adorable children. I actually like working with them and have had plenty of time to do so in my life, especially over the last couple of months. I've been working with grade 1 and 2 teachers and their mobs, small, enthusiastic children, children who want to be close, children who get sick with terrible childhood illnesses. I've had contact with hundreds of such children lately. Let me tell you that can be dangerous for your health.

In my years of working with children I've had many memorable things passed onto me, things you might not mention in polite company such as nits, those lovely small bugs that cling to your long hair and are difficult to budge. Most embarrassing when your hair dresser discovers them and recoils in horror, banishing you from her salon. That was bad but this one really takes the cake........

Read on carefully, at your own peril. I'm contagious and the bugs just might fly through cyberspace and get you too. I'm a pariah within my social group, many texts and calls but few brave enough to visit me. I've been banned from schools, from my places of work, sent home, laughed at, humiliated.

It all started a week or so ago, I've been feeling unwell, not able to quite pinpoint what with or why, just unwell and tired. On Saturday morning I noticed a small rash on my chest after a night where I tossed and turned, very hot. Hot with a fever it now seems. On Sunday morning, bleary eyed, I looked in the mirror and almost fainted. My whole body was covered in spots, blotchy, red, angry looking spots.

I consulted my wise neighbour who thought it might be prickly heat, I consulted my friends and colleagues at work who recoiled in horror and cried measles as they ran screaming out of the room. The Doc confirmed it most probably was measles, especially given that I'd been ill for a week or so, had most of the symptoms and worked with small, pesky children. Apparently I'm still very contagious and probably had been all weekend.

My friends are horrified, I look like a freak show and I'm being shunned. Most are polite, offering to bring me things while I'm under house arrest, drop things at the door and phone me from a safe distance to let me know. Some laughed out loud, then controlled themselves, some were a little sympathetic between bouts of uncontrollable laughter. One said, 'but I thought only kids got that not older ladies like yourself'. Mmmm revenge is a dish best served cold with that one.

There are a few of good things about this unfortunate turn of events.

1. Because I've worked with so many children lately, I can't pin point the exact child who infected me therefore I cannot seek retribution. I do have a short list and I was thinking of such things as putting them in too hard a reading group or eating their chocolate or making them play outside in the sun...... all pointless dreams.

2. The doc gave me a week off work, bless my spots that they came out on a Sunday morning and I went to work and got sent home, something about pregnant women in the building?

3. I'm getting some sympathy and offers of help from all quarters, now the mocking and freak show attitudes have passed. I may also be able to put myself behind germ proof glass and sell tickets to see the spotted lady, could be a fortune to be made.

4. I've got the chance to lay about all day and not feel guilty, to catch up on some reading and watch the DVDs that are being left at the door.

5. And best of all I should be right for the weekend, well here's hoping on that score.

Well, that's the story, a cautionary tale for others. My advice, stay away from small children, they should carry a health warning.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Hot!

You know it's hot when it's still 40C at 11pm. You know it's hot when its dropped to a sweltering 38C by 3am. By comparison the fact it's 32C now is a blessing. It's so much hotter in my new apartment, I get to watch the sun rise and somehow it keeps the heat of the day. People have been surprised at my power bills here, that they are low because I didn't often use aircon.

I can't sleep with the noise of the aircon so use the kitchen unit to cool my room. Last night that wasn't enough and I resorted to turning my bedroom one on for a while. There was a big blow last night, due to the heat stirring up the desert, and it kept me awake. The noises are so different upstairs. This morning the kitchen and bathrooms have sand dunes in them, lucky I hadn't cleaned yesterday.

I hope to get out to take photos this afternoon, out towards the Saudi border on the truck road. On the map there's some small settlements, on the map it looks so close to get to Liwa where Sue lives. In reality, the desert is impassable and I have to drive via Abu Dhabi. I still haven't made the journey to Liwa, too much on these past few weekends.

So I suspect today will be much like yesterday, hot, dry and dusty. A mostly inside day, a day to catch up on the rest of my packing, getting my car serviced and generally chilling.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Sam







Sam passed away on 23 May 2010. He was 12 years old and will be sadly missed by all who loved him. And to know Sam was to love him. I have never met a better natured dog, a dog who had a strong sense of belonging to the people who loved him. He lived across three houses and knew the rules at each, although he wasn't adverse to bending them if he was miffed at us. For example if we went out and left him on his own he'd sleep on the couch.

We tried to talk Tim out of getting a dog, he was at an age where I suspected we might be left holding the puppy. How wrong I was, Tim and Sarah were the very best masters a dog could hope for. I remember the day we picked him up, such a cute, sleepy little bundle of fur. Sam was raised around people. On the coast in the service station he slept in the office and wandered out amongst the cars, not so good for a pale pup. He learnt to live with the ginger cat, sleeping on a chair with him on occasion.

When he moved to Christchurch he loved to walk around Hagley Park, to go to the beach and to go up to Victoria Park. When Tim and Sarah traveled, he was shared between his coast home and his other Christchurch home. I so enjoyed having his company, having him there to force me out for a walk. He was stubborn to walk, if he didn't want to go somewhere there was no making him. If I took him out and it was too cold or a little wet, he would look at me as if to say, you must be out of your mind and turn back up the steps to the fire.

When I saw him on Skype last weekend, little did I know that it would be for the last time. He always greeted me happily when I returned home, I won't have a wet nose in my face this trip. RIP Sam, you'll be sorely missed by us all.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Moving

It's been a hectic week, hence no entries here. I've moved upstairs into a much bigger and brighter apartment, many trips up the stairs. I still haven't finished the shift with some bits and pieces to gather and deliver. I was amazed at how much stuff I had, the small stuff like books, shoes and clothes. At least I don't have to clean my apartment, the company does that. I pay but that's OK with me.

My new apartment has a view over the neighbourhood. It's got big windows and the sun shines in in the morning. I can't believe how much more space I have. I've still got lots of arranging to do to make it my place, my weekend job. It's a funny feeling coming into the light, I really needed to be out of the dark, closeness that was my old place.

Work calls, thank goodness it's Thursday. I'm so looking forward to the weekend. I feel like I missed last weekend completely with packing and feeling under the weather. I'll post some photos of the new place soon.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Out of town


This is where I'm traveling to this week, out past the place we camped at new year, out past the big dunes. This morning I regretted not taking my camera but as I was running a bit late, decided stopping on the way to take photos wouldn't be a good idea. The sun rising above the dunes cast a lovely light over the landscape, the camels added to the ambiance. The photo here is one a prepared earlier just off the road I was traveling today.

There's so much to see out in the countryside. The ever changing dunes, the men working on the roads, the camels and their herders, the scrubby plants that will grow until the heat burns them off. And talk about hot today, it's 45c now and I suspect where we were it got to almost 50. Sweltering heat that makes people faint and knocks the stuffing out of even the hardiest ones.

Getting into my car to drive home was like getting into an oven and the air con took some time to cool it. My car needs a service, especially with the travel I'm up for this week, and I'm procrastinating. It's too hot to go out to Toyota and get a taxi home, it's also too hot to go to the gym. I might just continue to rest for a while, until it cools and I've re hydrated, then go and do my out and about tasks. Sounds like a plan to me.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Hot!

It just hit 40C outside, yep very, very hot. I suspect that the expected high of 45 will be exceeded today, luckily I've got an inside day planned. I'm packing up all my bits and pieces for the move upstairs. I can't wait to be in a bigger place, a more open light and airy place. The best thing is that the people before Kate had a fire and burnt their old uncomfortable couch, one the same as my current one. That meant that Kate got a new couch and chairs, a couch perfect for laying on to watch TV. Well in my case to lay on and watch the computer. Others have tried to steal this comfy couch, no deal!

The rooms are bigger, the bedrooms in particular. I'll be able to have my bed out from the wall so making it will be so much easier. I'll also be able to set up an office in the spare room so I'll be able to free up my dining table for dining. Sue's coming to stay soon so can't wait to see her then it's home for me for a few weeks. I'm hanging out to see Noah and the kids, not hanging out to be in the depths of winter. It will be such a change from the oppressive heat here and a change is as good as a holiday so they say.

Driving

I seem to drive a fair bit here. It can be like playing Russian roulette, driving to the conditions while others power past at high speeds barely in control. Today's been a high milage day. I worked in Abu Dhabi yesterday so stayed the night with Debbie. We went out for a meal and had the bonus of catching some good Kiwi music, a couple who took our requests with good grace.

The drive back to Al Ain for my work day here began early, but not early enough that I didn't have to speed a little to get there on time. I've always mocked people who have those travel cups in their cup holders, people who take a coffee on the road with them. I saw that as deserving of a good mocking. I may have to confess that that was me yesterday and today. It seemed like the best way to get my much needed morning cuppa.

Today ended with a return trip to Dubai to drop Kate at the airport for her trip to New Zealand. I had to laugh when I went through to the passenger only part of Terminal 3 with her to help her check in. She had a trolley piled with way more than her 20kgs, my job was to wait with the stuff she was going to carry on so she didn't sprung for it as excess baggage. Fair enough, but are you actually going to carry that neatly rolled up 10kg+ carpet as carry on? Oh add to that a large bag on wheels, a carry bag big enough for two or three small dogs and a hand bag. What was she thinking!

Last I heard, she was at the gate with all her contraband in tact. Although she did get told she wasn't allowed something, perhaps the carpet, through the gate. She protested and told the man that the others had said she could, stood her ground in typical Kate fashion. I would have loved to see the poor man's face, I bet it brought back memories of fierce school teachers for him. So it seems my offer to pack the carpet in my suitcase wasn't needed and Kate will have another Middle East story to regale her friends and family with.

On the return trip I had a catch up with Sarah, it's been a while. I'm actually getting quite good at driving in Dubai, at finding my way around. I now know how to get to all three airport terminals without missing a turn, that I've taken a wrong turn at the times I have and how to get back on the right track, and most importantly, how to get onto the Al Ain road.

There are extensive road works on the road home. The sign I love the most is the one that says Al Foah 5km. That means I'm almost home. Tonight there was an accident on the road, a light truck, a 4wd and a car so far as I could see. The mess was horrific, debris on the road and the police cleaning up and reinstating the median wall between the carriage ways. It was awful and as always we all slowed to a crawl, went into one lane with our hazards on and rubber necked.

I hope the people were not hurt too badly, I suspect they were given the damage. And did the cars slow down, nope they didn't. Off they raced, weaving in and out at speed through the road works. I hung back, a wise choice. A friend shared a trick that works on the road bullies who power up behind you and expect you to pull out of their way, even if there's nowhere to go. If I give a flick on my indicator, a flick left in the fast lane, they back right off. It helps that I have an Emirati type vehicle. They back off, I just have to take care they don't see a petite western woman at the wheel.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Sleep, elusive sleep

I've got that I'm not going to sleep tonight feeling. There's far too much kicking around in my head for sleep and I know I'll regret that in the morning. I'm also unwell, the high levels of dust have zapped me over the past days and I was out when the dust storm hit with a sudden fury that reminded me of the dust storms in Qatar.

End result, I've got a horrible cold like thing, part of breathing in the dust. When I lie down, it goes to my chest and sleeping sitting up is not cool. My headache is impressive too. I'm sipping on ginger and lemon tea as I write, it's not helping. I suspect I may have to go to the docs tomorrow, something I've not done for years. I might be ok, if only I can get some sleep.

I got my tickets home to NZ yesterday. I found the Emirates office, a good move it seems. Not only did I get a discount for being a teacher, but also a complimentary limo to the airport and home, free changes to my itinerary and excellent service. With all the trips I've been doing, my airpoints are really looking healthy, may be at gold after this trip. The magic ticket didn't eventuate but I got some good advice on how to plan my trip on to Europe.

Things are in a state of flux here, people coming and going, jobs changing, working conditions changing, the feeling that I'm selling my soul some days. I find it hard when people leave. I get to know people well, make friends with them, and then they leave. Many I'll never see again, some I will. Most keep in touch for a while then that slows and stops. That's the way life is I suppose. As Rose always says, people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. The key is to pick who comes in for what, time will tell for most.

So I suppose I'd better hit the hay again. I've finished my book, best I look for another to read to lull me off to sleep, finished my tea so it's back to bed for another go at sleeping. Wish me luck, or more likely feel sorry for the people who have to deal with little Ms Grumpy tomorrow.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Amazing pics

I get lots of emails from the Emirates Natural History Group in which Brien, Brigitte and others share their unique knowledge of this place. The links they send are fantastic but this one takes the cake. The photos are amazing and if you keep your cursor on the pics there's an explanation. I love the dunes, they are constantly moving making for an ever changing, living landscape.

Friday, 14 May 2010

To do....

The weekend's rolled around again, my how the weeks seem to fly here. I've got a huge to do list, most things didn't get done this week so must over the weekend or early next week. Important things like booking my ticket home for the summer break. I can't wait to meet Noah, to get some family time so booking the ticket is critical for that.

I'm hoping to get a magical ticket, one that will take me home and back via Australia then on to Europe, to Belgium to see Di and to Italy for a holiday. For that I have to go to the airlines office and that's a little tricky to find here in Al Ain. I'm sure there is such a ticket, I'm sure it won't cost me a fortune.

Also on the to do list is a trip to the bank to sort my finances and a trip to the rugby club to book my dive course. Then there's getting ready to move into Kate's place, taking her to the airport and catching up with Sarah. She brought some pineapple lumps for me from her recent trip to NZ, can't wait to see her!

We had Kate's farewell tonight. I got to make the Margaritas, we had a lovely evening saying our goodbyes. We bought her a gift, an antique Omani necklace framed beautifully. I'm sad Kate's going. I've really enjoyed her friendship and although I'll see her in July, this place won't be the same about that kiwi girl. So it's off to bed for me now, an early night for a Thursday.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Marilyn's birthday bash


It's been a bit of a social whirl here lately. We've had busy weekends, last night the rugby club ball and the night before Marilyn's birthday, an unmentionable birthday according to her. Marilyn's my neighbour, she's South African and a woman of the world. A great traveller. We all gathered at the top of Jebel Hafeet to celebrate her birthday with her. The meal was lovely, the wine flowed, the girls looked glamorous. We had a great time.

Marilyn wanted us to all dress up, we obliged. The shoes tell the story, sparkly pretty shoes. Guess which ones are mine? It's lovely being with a relaxed group of friends for an evening, we even got to dance a little.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Fish talking


OK so I didn't find exactly what I was after on YouTube, surprising really, but I liked the music on this clip. I'm enrolling for a dive course next week, can't wait to do this. Enjoy.

Out cruising



Don't you hate it when you have such a good book that you resent not being somewhere on your own reading. Well unfortunately I took the final in the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson on the dhow with me. I was almost finished it so decided to lay about reading, Lesley tells me she has a photo of this. I really enjoyed all the books in the series, it's a shame there won't be more. Lisbeth Salander is an unconventional heroine, I found her story riveting.

Actually so riveting that I didn't take many photos of our trip. I have been there before but that's no excuse. I did get some good ones of a friend's son who was enjoying himself immensely as children do when out cruising. He jumped from the top of the dhow, amazing courage for such a young lad.

Another reason for so few photos is that I had a slight case of camera envy. Corneil had just brought her new Nikon, what a camera. I had a small play and really, really want one...... I don't need one of course, mine takes good photos. I got some shots of her jumping from the top of the dhow, apparently the ones she took of me doing the same are nasty. I really wanted to update my Facebook photo, won't be with a photo of me in my new bikini. Rita had a small waterproof camera, that's on my list to take next trip.

I spent heaps of time in the water and yes, I got sunburnt in the same way as last time. Only this time it wasn't as bad as I did put on sunscreen. I love snorkeling amongst the reef fish. This time there were less fish and the coral reef looked to be more silted up. The sea was rough initially and as the day progressed, the sea calmed and the tide dropped making the snorkeling much more interesting.

I made a comment to others about the noises the fish make when they talk to each other, yes I got ridiculed. But my observation is true apparently. The noises are the fish grinding the coral and the pips and squeaks are them feeding. I prefer my theory that they're talking to each other. I suspect they might have been saying, "another bloody tourist, where's a good shark when you need one?"

The photos are of the dhow next to us in the bay and the dhows in the harbour when we returned sunbaked and relaxed, and ready for the drive home.

Oh forgot to add, on the way home Kate, Corneil, Mary-Anne and I stopped for a meal at a small diner. It was across a busy road from where we'd parked. As we waited for a break in the traffic, the big 4 WDs stopped and the smiling faces of the local male drivers beamed out at us as they waved us across the road. This happened on both sides of the dual carriage way, 4 lanes of traffic stopped for the 4, by now giggling, ladies trying to cross. Our waves and smiles and thank yous caused more havoc, it just goes to show that you're never too old to stop traffic!

Sandy Beach Resort



It never fails to amaze me how many wonderful places there are to stay here. Sandy Beach Resort was full when I first tried to book but I managed to get a room in the older part, a room with a view of the sea and island surround by palms. The photo show the view, fantastic. The light sea breeze wafted to where Mary-Anne and I sat relaxing, cooling us pleasantly.

We were going to meet others at a nearby resort, we were too relaxed, too lazy to do anything other than meet Kate and Corneil for a meal, drinks and a shisha at the poolside cafe. We ate, chatted, enjoyed the ambience until the staff turned out the lights. I love this relaxed way of life, it's seductive.

Rau and Deidre arrived late, we joined them for a drink and then hit the hay as we had an early start, we were going to another country for the day. Coming from New Zealand, I always have a small giggle when I say that. We have to fly to get to another country, it's a big adventure. Here I duck in and out of borders at will. I only need to show my residency card to get into this part of Oman.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Dibba

The weeks been full so far, full after a lovely restful weekend in Dibba. Kate organised a dhow cruise as part of her farewell package, very well received by all who went. We staying the night at the Sandy Beach Resort, a sort of holiday park with some up market units alongside some older ones. It was right on a sandy beach, hence the name, with Snoopy Island a short swim away.

We stopped at the Friday Market, an odd market on both sides of a main highway, selling all sorts to the tourists that pass. I got some yummy fresh mangos and banana as well as a wonderful Indian meal seated beside an Indian family out for the day. They had a baby the same age as Noah, a conversation starter. He was so cute but not a patch on the shy 3 year old peeking around his grandmother and flashing me a smile, such lovely big brown eyes.

Mary-Anne and I settled into the sand chairs in our swimmers and then had a dip when it got too hot, I so miss swimming in the sea. I really feel at home there. I always sing the song I've included as I swim, float and just enjoy the smells and sounds of the sea. Enjoy, it's an oldie but a goodie. More about the weekend, including pics, soon.