I notice it's about time for all of my friends and family in the States to be waking up to Monday morning, but I am comfortably at home enjoying the first holiday of the school year, Eid Al Adha. We have a whole week off! Nice, except I'll be teaching on Thanksgiving Day. I think some of us are planning to get together on the Friday after for our Thanksgiving celebration. We don't have to worry about missing the sales, because there's no Black Friday here. The only worry will be whether or not I can find corn meal and poultry seasoning for the cornbread dressing!
The details seem to be working themselves out in every area. I got my passport back, and I am now officially a resident of the UAE. Abby and Mark have applied for their residencies, as well, and we expect that paperwork to be done soon after the holiday is over. The next step is a national identity card for each of us, and driver's licenses for Mark and myself.
School continues to improve. The teacher who was absent so much has really just stopped coming to work. For while, that made my class more difficult, as I shared in the last post. But then, something changed. The kids started thinking of me as THEIR teacher (since I was the only person they saw consistently everyday). Now, misbehavior is the anomaly. Amazing. They still talk constantly, and I have to work to keep their attention, but it's no worse than my class in Mansfield. I have come to adore my 21 boys. And, they're making great progress. We'll be starting spelling tests when we come back from the eid. Oh- and a different teacher will be taking my kids for their Arabic and Islamic classes. She's strict, so I anticipate some calm days ahead.
We finally socialized with a non-western co-worker of mine. Her name is Hind (with a short /i/ sound), and she's Egyptian. She teaches music to all grades. We met her family and my co-teacher, Hibba, and her family at the beach on Friday. The ladies sat under the tent and gabbed while the kids and dads played. It was very relaxing. I have a hard time with Hind's Egyptian dialect, so Hibba (who's Lebanese-Canadian) had to translate often, but we found plenty of common ground.
I've been meaning to update the blog for a while, but every time I've been on the computer lately, it's been to research and book our trip to Egypt and Jordan. My dad is arriving on Dec. 11, and he will stay for a week with us here. Then, we'll all fly to Cairo. We plan to see the pyramids and the Egyptian Museum, among other things. We'll travel to Jordan by bus across the Sinai Peninsula and boat across a small bit of the Red Sea to land in Aqaba. Then another bus will take us to Petra and Wadi Rum, which was T. E. Lawrence's hideout during the Arab Revolt, as described in his book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Then back to Cairo, and my dad will fly home. Mark, Abby and I will head to Hurghada and Luxor for diving on the Red Sea and more monuments, respectively. We'll fly back to Abu Dhabi on New Year's Eve. It's a dream trip. This is what we came here for!
Except for being so far away from all of the people we love, it's an ideal life. I find myself seesawing between euphoria at the incredible chain of events that led us to this opportunity and misery at the pain of missing friends and family. Most days I'm able to put the pain aside and enjoy the day, but there have been times that I've felt too cut off from home to be okay. When my internet was out at the end of October, I didn't find out about the passing of my friend, Charlene, until days afterward. I sincerely regret not being there in the community to grieve. I'm sure I was upset about that when I burst into tears at school after my head of faculty gave me a sticker with a pawprint on it. It's just too much to miss your friends and your dog at the same time!
It is nice to feel settled in, though. We love being able to walk or take the bus wherever we need to go. I love seeing the sun rise in the desert haze, silhouetting the Grand Mosque, every morning on the way to work. I love seeing Abby try new things. I love establishing a relationship with my students.