Sunday, November 13, 2011

Setting our pace in a new place

Our apartment E10 is on the second floor
Our Honda City is in the right hand parking spot
When you go on vacation to a faraway place, you insert yourself where some combination of time of day, language, culture, food, and geography are unfamiliar. You strive to learn it all as quickly as possible, snap photos,  and soak up as many memories as you can before it’s time to go home.

That’s the way I started out here: meet people, go places, and learn about this amazing country that I’d been anticipating seeing for four months. In fact, when someone asked me how long I’d been in Abu Dhabi, I said three weeks. Mark said no, it’s been only two.

A little voice whispered: "slow down."

Al Noor is brand new and very well laid out

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque looms beyond
Soon climate and conditions won out over curiosity and ambition. After the Marines Birthday Ball, Mark came down with a wheezing, strangling cough and a raging fever, and he literally could not get out of bed. I’ve never seen him so sick and it was really scary. With no thermometer and not much medicine in the apartment, I wondered if his fever was high enough to cause convulsions. First he was shivering so badly that we couldn’t put the air conditioning on. Then we were putting wet washcloths on his head and chest to cool him off.
Fortunately Mark has his medical card now. We went to the medical center at Al Noor Hospital, nearby. (Noor is a common Arabic name meaning light or beauty.) I was glad for this opportunity to get a look at the medical care facilities and to see how close they are to where we live -- just a few minutes' drive. It was the middle of the Eid holiday, and as would be the case on an American holiday, there were a lot of people there when we arrived. Still, within two hours Mark had been seen by a doctor, gotten a chest x-ray (clear) diagnosed with bronchitis and got medication at the 24-hour pharmacy.
Mark’s fever lasted two days, even with antibiotics, and so it turned out to be a virus. I’m no germophobe but it makes you think: we’re here in this place where we have no built up resistance to either the local microbial fauna or whatever is brought in by the expats from a myriad of other countries. A week later Mark is still recuperating; he went to work this morning for the first time in a week.

Where We Live

This is will be at the entrance to Al Seef Village

The temperature has changed, and everyone comments on it – I completely missed the misery of the summer heat and humidity. It’s cool in the morning and warms up during the day to the low 90’s. This morning I opened the sliding doors – we have four of them in our apartment, one in each room. The fresh cool air was glorious but the price for it is noise. Every morning, except for Fridays, construction on the little shopping complex at the entrance to our Al Seef compound continues.

... but right now it looks like this from the street ...

... and like this from our side. This is taken from a bedroom
 in Dana and Deb's apartment.

Our living room and dining room.
I have paintings coming in our shipment, due Dec 22.
They will hang over the sofa.
Our apartment has a nice open living room/dining room/ kitchen. The ceilings are high, and the walls are painted ivory with white ceilings. The company provided beautiful drapes in each room, along with nice but plain furniture. Mark and I have been looking around in furniture stores and we are amazed at the ornateness we see. Couches dripping with silk and brocade, and the colors! The chandeliers alone are worth an entire photo series and blog. I hope I can do it, but many of the stores have signs that say "No Photos." I don't know yet if it's a cultural thing or that they don't want competitors to photograph their store. So my plan is to ... ask. Anyway, it makes me truly appreciate the person who picked out ours.

The living room is the only  room
I am planning to put shades in.

The ceiling lights are bare bulbs, so I found a couple of shades for the living room. Mark and Dana both think they are overpriced ($179 AED or $48 USD each) but everything here is more expensive than it would be in the US. Deb and I are struggling with whether to buy plants, which we will have to give up when we leave. So far I have only bought two -- a small gardenia and a tiny basil plant. The trouble is, if we buy plants now they will do fine, until summer's searing heat comes -- then what? Most of our balconies face southwest.

It's nice to have the open kitchen
There are a lot of things that the company is supposed to supply us with that have not appeared, including a set of dishes, a microwave, and toaster. But we got a toaster from Deb and Dana because they were given two. And that's how it works here. 
Each day workers maintain and add to the Al Seef landscaping and the new, concrete look is softened by greenery.

Our street. Note the "Juliet" balconies. Our corner
balcony is just big enough to fit a small bbq.

The compound next to ours is older, and the villas are larger, with tall trees, grassy yards, and lovingly attended container gardens. Our apartment backs up against this development, and we enjoy having a large tree outside our bedroom window, where the birds wake up with us in the morning.

I just decided this morning, our doves must be called Romeo and Juliet, since they hang out on the Juliet balcony ...

This is my office -- for now.
I may have to fight Mark for property rights.
On the days when I stick close to home, I spend time in this room editing photos and writing. Then  I hit the workout room and the pool.

We're starting to meet people here in the complex. My vote for most fascinating so far are the French family with the daughter who looks about 10 and rides around the pool on a unicycle.

Dogs and Cats

The saluki next door looks a lot like this

You don’t see many dogs here, but I have seen a dog, which I think from the sound of its bark is a puppy, on our back neighbor’s patio. It’s a Saluki, also known as the gazelle hound or Arabian Greyhound, a breed considered one of the oldest pure breeds in the world. The nomadic Bedouins used them for hunting and they were prized for their loyalty, intelligence and stamina. I haven’t been able to get a photo because I have only seen this dog twice, and briefly, but I am captivated by its grace and beauty. A visit to the Saluki Center is on the To Do list.
Today Deb bought cat food and a dish to feed the locals.

Any time you go for a walk you are likely to see cats; most are feral. I can imagine how easy it would be for some people to come here, get a cat, and then have to leave and simply release it. We're not cat people, but if we were we could go to and adopt a cat. They're looking for volunteers, too. A lot of the expat women with working husbands consider volunteering because it gives them a purpose without the commitment of a regular job. That way they can take trips home to see their families -- or visit interesting places.

Sounds good to me.

You win a tray of Arab sweets if you recognize the flowers. 
We have them in our yard in NV.

1 comment:

Dominic Marchal said...

I love the write ups, keep them coming. All of this sounds familiar to me from when my father worked in Oman. Only that was before the internet and blogs... But the descriptions of the people and the lifestyle seems not to have changed much.
Has there been any coverage of the Abu Dhabi boat in the Volvo race? What if anything do the locals have to say about that? Also did you get to see anything of the F-1 Grand Prix? Those can be pretty cool all on there own.