Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

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  • Largest chandeleir in the WORLD!
  • Carpet detail.

 

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Salt Lake, Chicago, Doah, Abu Dhabi, Yas Island Hotel. Exhaustion.

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I must say that I love to travel. Nothing excites me more than thinking about a holiday, journey, adventure, excursion, outing, or trip. This is a biggie and has been long in the making, but I still find it hard to believe that I am here in the United Arab Emirites. I was hired in March by the Abu Dhabi Education Council to teach English to 10th-12th grade girls. I arrived on August 4th, 2011, with 65 other LT’s (Licensed Teachers), and I will start teaching in September. We don’t know which region of this tiny country we will be sent to, the school where we will be teaching, in some cases the grade, but I think there is a great deal of excitement in the air at the 5 star Yas Hotel.

When we left the plane we were met by two lovely women from Nirvana Travel who organized us, gave us our visas, led us to eye scans, then on through passport control to security to baggage claim. I managed to bring Daddy and half a Betos breakfast burrito through wiith no questions. I was told to not get my luggage of the carousel but to get one of the baggage handlers to do it. Hmmmmmmm, hard to a feminist. Walking out into the night at 10:30, the humidity enveloped me like a hot, wet embrace and my hair grew two sizes larger. Loaded into mini buses for the ride to the Yas then into a room for cold wash cloths and juice and room keys and luggage sorting and up to a room with a bed and a shower. Phew!!!!

Abu Dhabi marks the 39th country I have been lucky enough to visit and I plan on fully exploring the region I am in. But first there is a lot to learn and do to acclimate to my new life and one of the first challenges is that I arrived during Ramadan. During the holy month store hours are truncated, there is no eating or drinking in public from sunrise to sunset,  and it is good form to dress very conservatively. This was an issue to day when 10 LT’s hailed taxis and headed to the mall to buy some groceries. We fully expected the money exchange to be open but it is shut till 8pm. Thankfully a new friend, Melissa, lent me 100 Dirhams, 27USD. I was able to get enough food so that I don’t need to actually eat at this 5 star hotel.

The Yas has been open 3 years and has a Grand Prix race track right beside/through it. There is a 10k run in November on the track and I want to run it. It is very quiet now due to Ramadan and that is a blessing. The Marina is right outside my window and that is also shut. I have been waking up very early for me and going to the gym. I have to go before it officially is staffed at 6:30am as I only have Chacos and am not allowed to use them on the tread mill. The breakfast buffet is plentiful with the only drawback being beef bacon. Not much of a drawback! Fresh fruit, salad, yogurt, 10 kinds of danish, pancakes, toast, eggs, baked beans, potatoes, juice, jam, beef bacon, and decaf! YUM!

Cheers!

View from my balcony.

Marmite and the Grand Mosque

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Well, it has been an amazing first few days. And as I am a git when it comes to technology, getting this blog going has been lots of error among the trial. SO, bear with me and I will try to share some of the last 5 days. I am settled in to the Yas Hotel, on Yas Island nicely and have made lots of friends. Hard not to when there are 400 other people in the same boat as me. We have Aussies, Kiwis, Canucks, and a few Brits and lots of Americans from all over the place. I am the only Utahn so far but I here there might be 2 more coming! Arriving here was like being in a dream due to jet lag and the overwhelming nature of this undertaking. It has finally hit me….I have moved to the other side of the world and left my best friend and partner behind. And let’s not forget Stella and family and friends.

The Yas Hotel is AMAZING and more like a space ship than a dwelling. Sleek lines and pod like rooms make me feel like I am in the year 2020. The staff, who hail from around the world, are so lovely and polite and courteous and beaming and efficient and kind and lovely, you get the idea. Drawback is we are mile, or should I say k’s from anything like a market or mall. Cramming 4-8 people in a taxi has helped keep the costs down for jaunts into town but the novelty of this place has worn off and I would like to be settled.

Yesterday I ventured out with some friends to the Grand Mosque and it was stunning. We wore the traditional abaya and head scarf while the men were allowed in their street clothes. There is a room with rack after rack of abayas and finding one short enough for me was a chore, but you just pop one on and off you go. We giggled a bit like we were playing dress up but quickly got used to the swoosh when we walked. It was hard to keep track of my friends as all the women looked just the same. The inner rooms of the mosque are spectacular with marble and crystal and ornate carpets. Truly a great outing.

We had orientation last night and that was a fiasco and informative at the same time. ALL our banking accounts are set up and 78 people got housing assignments. We have been told that the housing allowance and an advance will be deposited after 5 business days. 398 teachers are to be placed in Abu Dhabi and I am still holding out hope for Al Ain but will embrace my new life where ever it is. Today we are doing med-checks and tomorrow police clearance. We should all know our placement and school by next week! The largest IKEA in the Arab world in on Yas island and they have agreed to deliver nay purchase over 1000USD for free and within 2 days. Our housing allowance is 5500USD and I expect I can spend part of it there.!

On Saturday I had a great treat and was taken out by some fellow Utahns who I connected with via facebook. They are starting their second year here and Heather is also a LT with ADEC. (Licensed Teacher with Abu Dhabi Education Council) Heather and Jared and their 3 adorable children picked me up and whisked me away. We went to the Marina Mall for bureau de change, Carrefour, a HUGE hypermarket, for conditioner, marmite, dates, yoga mat and a toaster oven. Success at every turn! Being a passenger was interesting and after the 3rd cruise through a stop sign, Jared informed me that they are only suggestions!  We ahve been told that you WILL be in an accident because the driving is so crazy. A GPS is mandatory and as gas is fixed at 1.70USD I may be getting a bigger car than I first imagined.

After my shopping spree we spent about 45 mins looking for a lunch spot called Jones the Grocer. This involved the iPhone, the GPS and numerous phone calls to said restaurant. This is not SLC where all is on a grid and things are easy to find. It was so confusing but worth the hunt. Not many places are open for lunch during Ramadan so we were determined to find it. It is of Australian decent and had scrumptious food.

Cheers!

Marmite