Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Liwa photos

Here are some more photos from our Liwa trip. We stopped at a camel farm and met the trainer and his newest addition. The fort at Liwa is very well restored and worth a clamber around and the last one is Sue of the desert. She believes it's just over there..... shows the vastness of the dunes and it was the same in both directions.

I've had an amazingly productive day, considering I watched the cricket for the afternoon and evening. The semi final was worth watching, a distraction as I sorted, wrote reports, saved files for another, cleaned and packed. Things are moving, the piles getting sorted into bags and the no longer needed filling the skip outside. I waved as the truck came and emptied it today.

I've also managed, with the help of the men at Computercare who I now know love Macs, to get my external hard drive working. We all held our breath as they deleted all from the drive to begin again. I'm not sure who was most relieved that it worked. I have backed up the Mac and deleted some of the files that were making it so slow, transfered them to free up some room. It makes a difference.

I've decided after some investigations that I need an iPad2. Friends have told me this before about the iPhone, I think this would meet my needs far better. I don't like traveling with my Mac. It's heavy and I would hate to lose or damage it, an iPad would give me the same functions at a fraction the weight. I had a play in Dubai and love the case with the small keyboard, very useful to me writing my stories as I travel. And I've got my next travels organised, the UK with Di for five days, photos and stories will surely follow. 

Monday, 28 March 2011


I spent some time sightseeing in Dubai this weekend. I had never been to the aquarium at Atlantis. I had seen the free pool, not the other treats that awaited inside. Here are a few pics from there. Others need more work than I have time for today, the low light and movement a challenge for this apprentice photographer. I could have watched the dark ballet of the various deep sea creatures all day. 


Home the movie is on YouTube. It's quite stunning to see so much of our world from just above. I didn't get to finish watching it, tonight's mission if I can stay awake for more than 30 minutes. The movie has a message, one of care and conservation. I'll give my opinion on this when I've engaged with it fully rather than through dozing eyes. I've been very tired this week, a catch up from the frenetic past few weeks I suspect.

I can relax a bit, so maybe I am. The freighting companies have come to look at my goods; my car is sold; I have offers on other items from friends; I'm sorting out my work documents to hand over to the person taking my place, as well as throwing out masses of paper. I'm not someone who prints a whole lot so that's surprising. My computers are on the plan for today, the work one first. I really just need to pack, to sort what's coming in my suitcase with my 23kg allowance and what's going in the freight pile.

Back to the freight companies. I had the phone calls, the usual ones here. I got them, from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to go to the Rotana. Easy, not really it took a few calls back and forth. From there it went:
'Where do you live?'
'In Al Jahili, past the Rotana Hotel and Al Jahili Fort, left at Megamart, third street on the right. I'll wait at the corner for you.'
'I'm at Megamart at the back, where are you?'
'Okay, so you are at Megamart, on the back street. Go down the street to a T intersection then turn left and first right go straight and I'll meet you at the corner'
A bit later. 'I'm at the big mosque. Is it near there?'
'Mmmmm no, the mosque needs to be behind you with Megamart on your left, go down the street to a T intersection then turn left and first right go straight and I'll meet you at the corner'
It took a while, there was a hint of panic creeping into his voice, but eventually I saw two smiling Indian men, looking obviously relieved, in a small pick up with a sticker stating their freight company on the door.

The same sort of conversation occurred with the next man who just happened to phone at the same time as I saw the first lot coming towards me. I can't multitask that well so I got the second one to wait. He was nice about that.

They both came, both looked happily at the furniture until I said, Well I'm taking that cushion and those books. Nothing else madam? Nothing else, mmm except maybe that very small table. It was the same in all the other rooms. One commented that I should use my freight allowance as I wouldn't get much selling what I was leaving. It's not mine you see, I informed him. I suspect he was a bit grumpy about having to come to Al Ain for such a small quote, he did say this and then quickly followed up with, it's nice to be out of the office for the afternoon.

The upside for me, there is so little they are quoting air freight so I'll have everything when I arrive. That's what I want. There is nothing that I'm sending via freight that I won't need in the first few weeks, most in the first few days. There's plenty of work stuff and of course my only form of transport. I suspect my bike will get some good exercise in Georgetown and surrounds, it looks a beautiful place to ride.

So the plan for now is to get the piles sorted. The throw, give away, sell, freight, take piles. My spare room is the place for this. It looks a mess right now, and maybe will for a week or so, but I'm on the way to being on the way. Another job for today is to book a car for the UK and some accommodation for Di and I. Then there will be more ticks off the list.

Moving is just like eating an elephant: You have to do it one bite at a time. My elephant will be eaten on time, in plenty of time. 

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Reason, a Season or a Lifetime

This is for Rose who first introduced me to this concept. I was sharing the concept with a friend and they linked me to this poem. So true, especially as I leave this place and say goodbye to many friends, people who have touched my life and taught me the lessons I needed at the time I needed them. I hope I've touched their lives too.

Reason, Season, Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life,
whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.
Aleksandra Lachut

Monday, 21 March 2011

A home weekend

It's amazing how much I can get done in a home weekend, all the small stuff. I've ticked heaps off the list and tonight the big one, my car is gone, sold! I'm a bit sad about that but as it's the only thing I needed to sell here, it's a big tick off the list. I now know the process for exporting a car from Al Ain to Dubai, it's not too complicated just took around two hours. The young man who bought my car drove off very happy, I sighed as I waved.

I also got to do some clothes and shoe shopping, much needed. The next job is to sort what I carry with me on my travels, to have with me as work clothes for the weeks until my freight arrives in the Caymans. After I leave here, I'm meeting Di in London for a stopover and we are going on a road trip to Bath, Stonehenge and Salisbury, all places I've wanted to visit for a while. I love planning trips, think I just may have missed my vocation, and the B&Bs in this part of the UK look amazing.

Heres are some of my Jordan photos, I'm not sure I've added any of these here yet as I have not long sorted them. The first is of Ad Deir or the monastery, the long walk up well worth it to have a chai while looking at this amazing Nabataean carved building. The next is a Bedouin camp and the last a sunrise shot in Wadi Ram on the Jordanian edge of Rub al Khali.

Friday, 18 March 2011

My car

Okay, so I thought selling my car would be easy. Well in one way it is, I've had plenty of calls after posting the ad late last night. The issue is that to sell to a person outside of the Abu Dhabi Emirate, I need to export it. Yes, export it to Dubai or any other Emirate. I somehow thought that I'd just get Al Ain people wanting to buy, not so I've had calls from all over. It's been difficult wheeling and dealing, I'm a bit rusty not that I was ever any good on negotiating when it comes to money.

So far I've had three acceptable offers, one I'm following through with as he seems reasonable. I want my car to go to a good home, to someone who will look after it. I've got a little over 4 weeks left here so I'm sure all will be well. I'm in the process of choosing what to take and what to leave. I have very little to sort really.

Some time later I write. I have a sale for my car to the reasonable man. I've got the paperwork underway and hopefully on Sunday bye bye Fortuna hello small rental for my last month and some money in the bank. I will be sad to say goodbye, it's been a great car and suited my purposes here very well. I suspect that my bike may be enough in my new place, for a while at least.

As part of the paperwork I had to check my fines. I sat with my breath held, I've not been very careful lately and have travelled many kilometers since my last check in September last year. The lady laughed at my face when she told me the grand figure of zero, that's 0 fines. She checked my license too, nothing there either. I think I'll spend the money I had ear marked for fines on shoes, should buy a few pairs and the odd matching handbag. 

Sunday, 13 March 2011

7 Emirates

I had a busy weekend. I have now visited all 7 Emirates and am amazed at how different they can be. I also got to Khasab, a very beautiful place in Oman right at the top of the Arabian Peninsula on the Straits of Hormuz. Traveling through the rugged, mountainous terrain on the road that hugs the coastline reminded me a little of the coast road in New Zealand's southwest. The heat and people reminded me that I was a world away from there. The water was chilly, refreshing, but I got to swim in the sea. Much needed.

I have an article to write on the Emirates for the magazine so that will be my writing assignment for this week. I'm based in town so essentially have 2 extra hours in the day, I hope to make the most of these getting caught up the things I need to do. Five weeks to go, the contract is signed, my flights are booked.  The stopover in the UK needs to be planned and I must get on to beginning the finishing process here. 

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The list

There are ticks on my to do list, quite a few actually. My car is now fixed, a new bumper that looks shiny, the car also shiny as the crew at Toyota cleaned it very well. I couldn't believe that I dropped it on Saturday evening with the promise it would be 3 or 4 days and today it was ready, excellent service. I had hired a Hertz car, again with excellent service, as I didn't know where I was based this week. Turned out it was in town so the car got very little use. And it was a car, interesting driving a small car after the Fortuna. I felt much better tonight driving through town, you get respect in a 4wd in this place!

Toyota also gave me a ball park figure to sell my lovely car at. It's about what I thought, Toyota's hold their value but I felt a wrench as he said the words and offered to buy it off me at a lower price with a smile. I don't really get attached to things, a car is a car, but this one is a bit special. My first new car and the first one I have bought for myself, by myself. I have two people interested in buying, need to get to them tomorrow so we get the process started. another tick off the list and me relegated to a car for a while.

Speaking of lists, I watched an inspiring movie on Thursday night when I should have been out socialising. The Bucket List is the story of two unlikely friends linked by a destiny neither have chosen. It's a heart warming and at times funny story, had me laughing and admiring the two as they went through their adventures. It also made me sad that my father didn't have such adventures when he was sick. We did try, Egypt was on his bucket list. I still have to go there, soon. I only have six weekends, five really, before I leave so will have to plan some trips to see the rest of this place. Shame that there is unrest in so many places. I'm not sure when I'll be back, although I'm very sure I will be.

The pics are from an afternoon out showing a new friend around Al Ain. The fort is at the start of Hili Oasis and the tomb is an ancient one form the Hili archaeological park. There is an exhibition at Al Jahili Fort on the ancient history of this place, the excavations and discoveries at Hili are a big part of that history. 

Saturday, 5 March 2011


That was surreal. Sitting on the dining table at 4.30am my time being part of Noah's christening on the other side of the world. I could see and hear everything, luckily no one could hear me. I was so sad to have missed this very special occasion, one of the major drawbacks of living and working away from my family. Skype is amazing and I wonder how I could be here without this means of contact.

I got to see everyone, talk to some and be part of this. There was a comment about how I looked in my red dressing gown, a bit rough and not really dressed for the occasion. Luckily I could switch my camera off! Noah took it all in his stride, smiling and chatting and looking around wondering why there were lots of people at his place, kids playing with his toys. The original venue was too badly damaged to use so his christening was at home, followed by his birthday party. An intimate gathering of family and friends.

It is also the first time in ages that all my boys are in one place at the same time, I hope they get photos. That is something I am very sad at missing. We're planning another talk tomorrow, probably late this evening my time so best I get an afternoon nap, needed after the early start. Thank you everyone for making this happen.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Night games

I don't often have trouble sleeping here. If i do it's like tonight, I get to sleep and something wakes me. Tumbling thoughts now stop me from getting back to that relaxed place. The source of disturbance tonight was some yelling outside in the street, not the yelling that's happening in other streets in the Arab world thankfully.

This was a joyous yelling, a loud argument between several young men. I quietly looked out my window. It's hard to be mad at noisy neighbours when the view from the window shows four young men in their kandoras playing cricket in the street. Yes, cricket. There was much laughter and sledging as the bowler hitched up his kandora and paced towards the batsman while letting the ball fly.

A miss this time, next time a big hit and off they ran to find the ball. I can hear the laughter as they fight over the ball, I suspect they were saying, my turn next. The scene reminded me of my sons, cricket being their summer back yard sport. Them and the neighbourhood boys. I quietly closed the window, sleep deserting me as I listened.

Oasis Living

The new edition of Oasis Living is out. Read it here online.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Happy birthday

Happy birthday wee boy. Big kisses from grandma xxxxx

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Catching my breath

I'm back. I've been in my cave trying to make sense of all that is happening in Christchurch and the wider world. I tend to do that, focus inwardly, when things get tough. I take some time to reflect away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, living my work and then getting time out. I've returned to the gym, looking in the mirror was not such a happy event so decided action was needed. I really enjoy the head space that exercise gives me.

I need the head space because there is such a lot going on. I've written my to do list and am ticking things off this long list. My police check is done and getting translated, my medical check happens on Wednesday and other documentation is underway. Such a lot to do. Tonight is a quiet one, pumpkin risotto cooked with brown rice and an early night. The risotto took ages, it was worth it. Totally delicious and enough for two meals, a bonus of living alone. I find cooking relaxing, music, fresh ingredients and an uncritical audience of one with a nice red in hand, perfect.

The weekend, may it roll around quickly, should also be a quiet one with the highlight happening at around 5am my time on Saturday. Noah is getting christened in Christchurch. The place this was supposed to happen is unserviceable so it's now happening at home and I'll hopefully manage to join them via skype. I can't wait to see everyone. It's hard to believe that Noah is one this week, it seems like he's been part of our family forever. A sunny, happy little boy who is loved by everyone. The invitation is on my fridge, a collage of photos that bring me joy every time I'm in the kitchen. Happy birthday habibi, big kisses from grandma.