1. Dancing fountain at Emirate's Palace. I have more pictures, but blogspot won't let me upload them right now! Anyhow, the fountain pours from the ceiling and can create designs, images, even words!
2. Returning from Oman, Driver fancied some fruit.
3. Some of the sand here has the most exquisite red color swirled in with the buff color. Will try to get an up-close picture for ya!
4 & 5. Austere Oman
6. Well, this just makes me giggle! And it sends me into a 'snake eating its own tail' logic spiral: dirt is good because it keeps Omo in business, I guess, but if it's so good, why wash at all?!
7. This graffiti is in my 'hood, yo. I love the Gorillaz' music and this scrawl was like a little dose of home!
8. I need the lease-to-own false work solution. Is that an option?
9. An unusually sentimental construction site wall.
10. Here we have Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan. By the way, it's pronounced like the word "shake"; this was news to me! This gigantic light-up signboard is testament to the love citizens here have for their Sheikhs. They are pictured all over the city usually in relaxed, genial poses like this. I was struck by the implications of a government portraying their leaders as approachable, in stark contrast to the way American leaders are shown. The dimensions of this tribute are astounding - did you see the person in the bottom left corner?
11 September 2009
As I write this, I am returning to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi from the Sultanate of Oman. I entered the UAE on a visitor’s visa because the school did not yet have my papers in order and this 6 hour trip had to be made simply to cross a border and get a stamp in my passport. The countryside here is stunning. Craggy hills in dusky rose-red, gold, and buff abound and march into the distance. It looks very much like parts of New Mexico (Las Cruces, specifically) if you just switch out cactus for palms and adobe for onion tops. The visa bureau was a familiar, Kafkaesque experience. Long lines, bored and unfriendly civil servants, and
!gasp! I just saw my first camel in its natural environment!! A whole group of ‘em, in fact! What is the proper term for a camel crowd? A herd? A pack? A gang? (did the research: they’re a caravan, flock, or train) I can’t wait to go to the camel races…
no toilet paper whatsoever. As an added bonus to help curb any homesickness, they added the sound of continuous jackhammering to the experience. The sounds of construction were a lovely counterbalance to the constant beeping in the car as we drive back and forth. Most cars here have a feature similar to a governor to keep you from speeding. When the driver goes over 120kph it makes a sound like a garbage truck backing up, relentlessly. Not exactly a governor, more of a nagging mayor…
19 September 2009
The week improved after the trip to Oman, I'm happy to report. That night a group of us teacher types went to the Emirate's Palace Hotel for the decadent Iftar dinner offered there. Iftar refers to the traditional fast-breaking feast given in homes and restaurants during Ramadan. The room we were in was referred to as a "tent" but, as you can see in the background of the fountain pictured above, that is akin to calling this MacBook Pro I'm writing on a "pencil". White linen tablecloths and sterling silverware, soups, salads, bread, main courses, and desserts with gold shavings were the fare that evening and I packed as much in as I could hold! ok, the tablecloths and silverware weren't fare... Anyway, it was a lovely atmosphere and I had a great time being transfixed by that incredible fountain. They had so many displays programmed into it, I thought I could've watched all night and they wouldn't have gone through the whole cycle. I also enjoyed smoking shisha for the first time. Shisha is
noun an oriental tobacco pipe with a long flexible tube connected to a container where the smoke is cooled by passing through water; is a device wherein smoke is passed through water and inhaled from a long tube and it is also the name for the aromatic tobacco you smoke. Ours was grape-flavored!
School went well this week, as smoothly as things can when you're only 3 weeks in with an upcoming, week-long vacation distracting everyone from the business at hand. I feel like I'm developing some wonderful rapport with my students and colleagues. The kids are really terrific, although classroom management is tough in such a sardine can of a classroom. I've made some progress with putting the Smartboard to use. It's potential as an educational tool is fantastic and I hope to begin to realize it, I just need some curtains in my room of 5 large windows, so that the wonders of the Smartboard can be seen.
Eid al Fitr will start soon. When the moon gives the go-ahead, Ramadan will be Ramadone (credit to Chandra for that wordplay) and I'll finally get to see what normalcy is like 'round these parts. I definitely suffered some dehydration symptoms from not being able to drink water for most of the day. I also found it hard to wait until 8:30 at night to get access to certain stores. But at least I wasn't fasting! Some of my students were doing their best to fast and I'm eager to see if regular meals and bedtimes help with their attentiveness. Seems like a no-brainer that a ten year needs those things... In spite of being privy to tales of travel plans to Nepal, Greece, England, and Oman, I decided to stay here for the holiday. It made my head swim to think of trying to plan another trip when I hadn't wholly emptied the suitcases from the flight here and so many things are still up in the air. Instead, I plan to dig in a bit, visit the Grand Mosque, set up SCUBA lessons, go to the beach some more, visit Dubai again, begin volunteering with Strays of Abu Dhabi (SAD), and get my hair cut. "That'll do, pig!" Interesting side note: I could not share the movie 'Babe' with my students if I was so inclined because it involves the possible eating of a pig. Ditto for 'Charlotte's Web'.