Saturday, December 14, 2013

it's like the 4th of July on steroids...

I'm talking about National Day here in the UAE.  For those of you who don't know, the UAE is only a sprightly 42 years old. was formed in 1971 and is essentially a baby of a country.  I've never seen a country more excited about it's birthday than the UAE.  This is a country that knows how to party...soberly.  (it's a dry country - remember?)   Despite this, the UAE pulls out all the stops to celebrate.  I had students bringing in decorations for the classroom for weeks beforehand.  My classroom looked like a party store when it was all said and done and I didn't even get a chance to put up all the decorations they brought!  Our school organized National Day activities and then on the day we were supposed to have it, Dubai won the bid for the 2021 world expo and he Sheikh cancelled school for THE ENTIRE COUNTRY in celebration.  Yes - I said FOR THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.  I'm sorry - THAT would never happen in the US.  So - our National Day activities were postponed until the following Tuesday, because we already had Sunday and Monday OFF from school for National Day celebrations when the sheikh gave us off Thursday as well?  Hello 5 day weekend!  I did feel sorry for the horses and camels at our school and for the security guy locked in the artifacts room in our elementary building guarding millions of AED worth of national treasures.  (My school has some pull with the palace...we'll just leave it at that, mmmmmk? ;)  The day we returned to school was only a 1/2 day for the students and they could arrive in traditional outfits (no school uniforms) and we participated in different activities throughout the day, such as listening to the drummers and bands, looking at falcons, the camels and horses, getting henna done, playing in bouncy houses, watching the arrival of the sheikh (red carpet included), eating traditional food, playing games and etc.  I even had a student whose family bought me a traditional dress called a jalabiya and a gorgeous shayla (scarf).  I was so touched and honored by their generosity.  What a wonderful surprise!

As for the celebrations...they lasted for days.  The daytime celebrations went on for a couple of weeks...the night time celebrations were two straight nights of craziness.  (PS some of the decorations are still up and National Day was December 2nd.)
looking down the artifacts room...that's real sand and native animals (don't worry - the animals weren't alive)

female and male traditional attire

one of halls in the elementary building decorated with traditional decorations and student National Day projects

decorations lining the streets

more decorations

and still more

fireworks from the corniche, night #1

National Day cruising the corniche

silly string and foam anyone?

here come the "string bandits"

yea - Rachel got ambushed...

so did I

traffic jam

this was a video display on the side of a building

the UAE aerobatic jets were shrink-wrapped in National Day decor

the policeman took our silly string...

so we reloaded...

night #2 of fireworks...these I could see from my bedroom window

a room at our school which was turned into the "artifact" room...millions of AED of artifacts

oud, knives, swords, gold, paintings, animals...etc...

momma and baby camel that were brought in to our school...

Truly - isn't he the cutest 3 month old camel you've ever seen?

momma and baby horse at our school as well

Friday, December 13, 2013

I totally meant to post these when I arrived...

Here are a few photos from my trip over here...these should have been included in my first blog post from the UAE, but oh well...better late than never! :)

Getting ready to leave Portland for Chicago

getting ready to board the flight in Chicago to Abu Dhabi

The line to board the flight to organization at OCD was going

Yep - that's Tillamook cheese on an international flight...a little taste of goodness

Apple crumble dessert...pretty good for airplane food!

Somewhere over Turkey from what the flight attendant said

I love the in-flight tracking.

almost there

My home for the next two years - Abu Dhabi living!

I'm an official UAE resident.

Desert Safari

A few months ago Groupon UAE was offering a pretty darn good offer on what they called a "Desert Safari" experience.  For 99 AED, roughly $27, you get the following:

  • dune bashing
  • henna
  • traditional Bedouin BBQ
  • drinks (water, soda)
  • shisha
  • belly dancing
  • pictures in traditional attire
  • and more...

It was the best 99AED I've ever spent :)  We had SO much fun.  Our driver for dune bashing was insane, so we instantly liked him.  The food was so so good, the henna was beautiful...everything was picture perfect. :)  I will definitely be doing this again.

before the long trek up that mountain of sand behind me

sunset on the dunes

My friend gave up the fight to climb up the dune. lol

at the top

Go Ducks!

My friend, Mr. Camel :)

Bucket list item checked off :)

He was SO cute!

Mom - can I keep him?  (the camel - not the guy)

ATV dune dusk...then by moonlight :)

belly dancer - she was amazing...

the following pics are out of order - these are on the way to there

nice look, Rachel ;)

hahaha - so much fun!

Love my adventurous friends!!