Greetings faithful blog readers!
Apologies for not keeping up my end of the bargain here and providing you with fresh new content on a regular basis. I have no excuse really…other than I’ve been settling in nicely, creating new routines, keeping myself busy and wasn’t finding time or making blogging a priority. I guess you could somehow consider that a good thing! I certainly am not bored nor have a lack of things to do when not at work here.
So my last post was at the end of November and I announced that our RIT Dubai president was picked to be the deputy prime minister of Libya. He’s still in that role and we are now searching for a new leader.
December was spent prepping for my 2 week visit home to the states and visiting family and friends in both Rochester and the greater Buffalo area. That all went well especially the fact that I saw almost no snow the entire time I was there. It truly was the winter that wasn’t. Of course it would be in a year that I move to the desert to escape the cold and snow. Watch! Winter 2012/3 will go down in the records books for all the wrong reasons and I’ll be there. Regardless it was great to be home and the time passed quickly. I was able to freshen up the house for the new tenant and go through tons of mail that had accumulated while I was away. I was even able to pick up a prize — a new white wool pea coat! And I was notified of several other prizes that would be delivered. Also picked up my new iPhone 4S and stocked up on things that either can’t be found in Dubai or are wickedly expensive here.
The start of the new year back in Dubai meant planning for my family’s visit at the beginning of February. I had to scope out and then plan a 9 day itinerary for 3 guests covering Dubai and the capital of Abu Dhabi. I took a week’s worth of vacation to tour my sister, brother-in-law and a dear friend of theirs around the city. We covered it all…and by the end we deemed it “The Malls and Mosques of the Middle East” tour.
We moved by every means of transportation available — boat, car, metro, taxi, foot, dhow, abra, balloon, Land Cruiser/4×4 and of course they left in the Airbus A380. We met penguins, we met camels, we met falcons, and we spied on flamingoes. We were in a hot air balloon to see the sun rise and at a bedouin encampment to see the sun set. We spent 13 hours in one mall and actually hardly shopped at all. We went to the top of the tallest building in the world and went to a museum that’s mostly underground. We saw Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, and Hummers. We visited 2 mosques that allow non-Muslims in; one where we learned about the religion and the other where we learned about the stunning architecture. We ate dates, we ate camel milk chocolate, we ate potatoes on a stick and we ate PappaRoti.
Oh and of course we saw the iconic Burj Al Arab, went to the spice souk, the gold souk, and saw a few performances of the Dubai Fountain.
I, of course, needed some time to recuperate from this working vacation. Working as a tour guide can be exhausting, rewarding, and educational all at the same time. People at work who have been here longer than I have have asked me for this itinerary slightly embarrassed that they haven’t done half of these things yet.
Then it became tax season where I had to prepare all the documents I needed to send to a tax preparer who specializes in the unique tax needs of expats. I normally do my taxes myself with TurboTax but this year and next will be way too complicated for me to handle on my own.
Around the same time I started tax prep, I also traded rental cars. I had been driving a Toyota Corolla but it had no power windows, no power locks, and no power mirrors. All of which were a big hassle when I was driving my family around. I’m now driving a sand colored Nissan Tiida hatchback. I believe this car is sold as a Nissan Versa in the US.
And the big news related to driving is that before my family arrived, I broke down and bought myself a Garmin Nuvi GPS. This simple act goes against everything I am. I have a good memory for landmarks. I have a good sense of direction. I know how to read a map. I’m a AAA member who gets triptiks when traveling by car. My iPhone has a GPS. Well, sorry folks. All those things don’t help you navigate Dubai! With new expressways being built daily and streets not being marked and buildings and homes not having addresses, it is near impossible to navigate and insanely frustrating. The purchase was an investment in my sanity. I wasn’t going anywhere for a while for fear of getting lost…which can be a frightening experience since you sometimes cannot turn around at all or for quite a few kilometers. And just because you can turn around still does not necessarily mean you can find your destination. It has paid for itself already in the sense of freedom it provides not to mention the increased self-confidence. So even if I make a wrong turn, it will always get me back on track. It doesn’t always choose the shortest route, but it always gets me home. Gotta love that checkered flag!
More recently I’ve been focused on planning this year’s vacation. With the liberal vacation policies here and the need for people to escape the summer heat of Dubai, I’m able to take an almost 2 week vacation this year. The destination — the Mediterranean. The mode — cruise ship. An inaugural sailing of a new ship called The Breeze. My Rochester readers might think that this is an ironic name because that was the nickname of its failed ferry service. I think this ship will do just fine. I’m taking any and all advice on things to see do in Rome, Venice, Barcelona, Monaco, Marseilles, Dubrovnik, Izmar, and Athens to name a few. I’m busy catching up on my Rick Steves tour books to plan shore excursions as I set sail in 65 days.
So there you have it! The Reader’s Digest version of what I’ve been doing that’s been keeping me from blogging regularly. I could elaborate here on any one of these and other topics and I promise to do so more regularly in the future.
Let me know what you want to hear more about and whether you want more photos included. Otherwise I will simply chat about what comes to mind that I feel like sharing.
Oh, and in case you are wondering…it’s not even April yet and we are in the triple digits for temps. Four and a half months of these temps to go. Forgive me if I’m a little cranky when I return! I hear the heat can do that to a person.