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27.1.09

Observations...

I have been here for 3 weeks and 3 days as of this evening... I have to say that making this change has been surprisingly easy for me (so I think). Maybe I haven't gotten to the part of it being hard, but I have not had a good cry or regretted coming.

Things are very different here than what I thought it would be. I had done a lot of research on the area, and a lot of what I was able to find was about Dubai. Well that is another place all together. Where Dubai is glitz and glamor, Abu Dhabi is more down to earth and ordinary.

Sure there is the glitz, but then right next door there is the ordinary. Just like in any big city there is a wide range of incomes and people. And as in each city there are the problems and language barriers that come with the territory. There are all income levels, from those that make just 300 SD to those that make thousands per month. And, of course there are the problems that come with those lower income levels.

Mostly what I have seen so far is flat sharing with more people in the flat than we as western thinking people feel should be in one. Where we think maybe 2 or 3, there may be 8. Of course, when you think of that, you need to realize that those people are probably working here to send money home to their families and so all they really want is a place to sleep and a roof over their heads. They are happy with the basic needs and while they may have wants, it is not a ruling factor in their lives like it is for so many of us westerners.

When we were at the Hilton, we met several of the staff there. I got to talking with one of them and asked if he had a family. He said yes, they were back in Sri Lanka, he has a wife, and 2 daughters. He brought in some pictures for me to see. He has a lovely house of which he is very proud of, a beautiful wife, two adorable girls, a beautiful German Shepherd dog. Another one we met, has been here for 16 years, he is also from Sri Lanka and will be going back to visit in April. He is a fortunate one here, he has a vehicle that he drives to work.

As in every case, there is the good along with the bad. I just read a story in Emerites Woman last night that detailed some of the horrendous living conditions and working conditions that the beauty industry workers live in. They are practially slaves to their empoers whims and if the miss an hour of work, they loose the whole days pay. On the other hand, there ae some spas and treatment centers who are trying to reverse that and they take care of their staff wonderfully.

Every one that I have met has been absolutely wonderful. They have been most kind in helping me outi n learning to navigate the bus system and in giving directions. I have never felt un safe in any of the areas I went... maybe a bit uncomfortable, but not un safe. The people here are very kind and generous.

On a closing note...

I just finished an awesome book last night. If you can find it, it is a must read. The book is called Rags to Riches by Mohammed Al Fahim. It details the account of the Abu Dhabi area and the incredible hjourney the Emiraties have been on over the last 60 years. It is absolutely and incredible journey.

14.1.09

Oh My Godness Part 1

Oh my goodness...

So much has happened in the last week. Some days I am exhausted with all that is going on.

They are trying to get things done at the apt so we can move in this weekend. We got the appliances and the temporary furniture yesterday.
The window coverings are supposed to be here either today or tomorrow. That should be interesting... they sent a 23 year old man to do the measuring...It will be interesting to see if they are the right length and just what we got.

O.K. so let me back up a bit...

We got in to Dubai late by about 2 hours... That isn't bad considering the whole event...

Our flight to SLC ws on time and went perfectly. When we got into SLC we found that our flight out to Houston was delayed. They said it was bad weather in Idaho Falls... (the weather was just fine when we left). Evidently the flight crew was on another flight and they were connecting to the Houston flight in SLC. It turns out that is was not Idaho, but Jackson that the bad weather and the flight was coming from Jackson to IF and then to SLC. So, because of delays, they moved us to another gate... 3 concourses away.

Of course they said that the crew was just landing at that gate and there would be a short turn around time there. So we all grabbed our bags and ran. Arrived there huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf and found out that the plane had not yet landed. Ok so we sit and wait... flight status is now upgraded to 20 minutes late. We start to worry a bit since our layover is only 90 minutes and we know we need to change concourses in Houston. So the 20 minutes pass and nothing. Just wait we are told... they will be here soon... the plane has just landed and they are now on the round.

What they forgot to tell us was that sure the plane was on the ground, but they were on the ground over at the other concourse where we were first and... they were waiting for a gate to open so they could deplane. They will be here soon was what they kept telling us. The gate agents were as frustrated as us because they couldn't get a straight answer either. Time wise we noe have about 20m minutes to make the connection in Houston if all goes well and we arrive on time. After another 20 minutes of waiting, we finally get word that the plane has unloaded and that the flight crew should be arriving shortly. We are all to the point of Yeah right... we will believe that when we see them. About 25 minutes later here comes the crew sauntering down the concourse with Starbucks coffees in their hands. You could have heard a pin drop with the silence they received. (by flight crew I am talking about the 2 attendants, the pilot was there waiting for 2 hours).

Finally we get to board the plane. Take off was good and the flight was uneventful. The atmosphere was very frosty toward the attendants though.

We knew we were going to have a tight connection in Houston and might possibly miss it if we didn't make up some time. We were able to make up a lot of time, and got there and on the ground with about 5 minutes to get to the next leg. As soon as we got off we checked the monitors, and yay the flight is delayed. So we hurry to the gate and settle in to wait. Finally we get on the plane to Atlanta... this is supposed to be an easy connection... the arrival gate and departure gate are right next to each other. Due to bad weather we arrive late. Ha! why should we expect to be there on time?

So we get there and the jet way won't connect to the plane. It goes side to side, but not up to the plane. So after fiddling with it for a while, the pilot decides that he will have the 10 passengers that have a Dubai connection to deplane first. Now about this time someone decides to make a brilliant move and try to open the rear door, and deplane himself... how stupid can a person be? The co pilot comes out of the cockpit and hurry's back to the back of the plane, the pilot comes on the intercom and informs the attendants that he will not allow anyone to deplane until he says so. 10 more minutes of waiting....

Finally he comes back on and says that the 10 of us with international connections are to deplane first. That is good in theory, but as soon as the doors open everyone starts to get their stuff and move into the aisles... blocking us from deplaning at the rear. Brilliant! As we get off the plane we find out that once again we need to go 3 concourses over to the next plane.. great.

Atlanta is huge... bigger than Houston. Doug starts running and expecting me to keep up... yeah right! He gets snappy at me and I tell him to go on ahead and I will catch up. I am getting kind of short of breath from being stressed. So he takes off running to the next concourse and I am trying to keep up as best I can. This wonderful lady comes along and asks me how far I need to go, and can she help? I know you aren't supposed to give your bags to anyone you don't know, but... so I give her my carry on and she takes off, she stops a cart driver and tells him to take me the rest of the way. She gets there, gives Doug my bags... somehow she seemed to know to just give them to him. I arrive and get checked in and as I am getting ready to go down the jet way I mention to the gate agent that I don't know who she is, but would he tell her thank you for me... He then asks me "who should I tell?" I turn around and she is not there. Kind of strange... she was there one minute and then the next she was gone.

We get on the plane and finally sit down. We can relax since this is the last plane we need to catch. It doesn't matter if we are late getting in to Dubai, we have made all of our connections... which is really good.... since we are delayed lol in takeoff. Due to the weather the airport is closed for a few minute and no flights are landing or taking off. There are a lot of thunder and lightning going on and the fog is real thick. All of a sudden there is a real bright flash of lightning, and the fog is gone. That is the strangest thing I have ever seen. After a few minutes we get in line to take off, and we are #3. All of a sudden we make a u-turn and get out of line. the ilot makes an announcement that they are gong to double check the take off course sine we are heavy. (Does that mean they forgot to do it the first time?) So we get back in line and wait our turn. As we take off you can really feel the weight of the plane.

The flight was awesome. I loved flying 1st class and now know why so many people fly it on international flights.The food was incredible, it was almost non stop.