Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back To Abu Dhabi

We got back to Abu Dhabi, after a long, boring day of travel, on September 1. The only exciting thing about our flight here was that we got to fly right past the Eiffel Tower when we stopped over at Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris. We didn’t have a real layover there, though. We got off of one flight and hurried to the next, without even time to shop in the airport souvenir shops! We were really happy to get on our Etihad flight- what luxury after American from DFW to Paris. We didn’t learn that our luggage had not even made it to France until we arrived in AD. It was delivered to our apartment safely the next day.

It kinda feels good to be “home.” We’ve eaten at our favorite restaurants, Automatic Cafeteria for Lebanese food and Asian Garden for Thai and Chinese. At Automatic, we were welcomed back with smiles and handshakes, and our favorite waiter took good care of us, even bringing us complimentary falafel. We ate there almost once a week last year. We also spent an afternoon at Le Meridien, the resort that has an agreement with our apartment to allow us to use their facilities gratis. We packed a lunch to eat by the (chilled) pool, then swam and played on the beach. Of course, we had to go to LuLu’s to do our big restocking grocery trip. I’m glad to have my Masafi (flavored water) again. 

On September 4, I went to the Education Zone to pick up notification of my transfer to a new school. At the end of last year, I applied to be a Head of Faculty (HoF), and I was selected for the position. The HoF is assigned to one school to be a resource person for the teachers and administrators, and a liaison between them. It’s such a different job than teaching, but I’m excited to get under way with it. My new school is called Al Eethaar Kindergarten, and it is located about 40 minutes from my apartment south of the airport in a suburb called Al Shawamekh.

Places here are very hard to find because there are no addresses. Sometimes, there are no street signs. I drove around for about two hours on Sunday looking for my school. And this was after studying a map on which the location of the school was clearly marked! I finally found it at about 1:15, and I met my principal at the door with her keys, about to leave. She was very understanding, and I believe we are on our way to a great working relationship. 

Over the course of my first week back, I have met the licensed teachers (LTs) for the English program. There are eight so far, with one more on the list that has not yet shown up. Two are returning from last year. The remaining six are new, with varying degrees of kinder experience. All of them are excited to be here and eager to do their best. I also have six teachers from a school that is still under construction with me. I have been trying to keep them busy helping out. All of this has been without one tiny bit of direction from ADEC. I listen to my principal about her priorities, and then get busy with the teachers. I just hope we’re going in the right direction on all the details.

Mark, Abby and I have been very preoccupied with the task of finding a new place. We were considering a move to the suburbs, hoping to find space for our dog and relief from traffic. However, after much discussion, we decided we didn’t want to have to drive to the city for everything. So we hired an agent to help us find a place closer to the city but still with some outdoor space. We think we’ve found it. It’s a villa owned by an Emirati man. It has two stories, with a living room, half bath, and kitchen on the ground floor, and three bedrooms and two baths on the second floor. It’s very traditional, with a high wall around the outside and a locking gate. It has tile floors throughout, elaborate chandeliers, gold-trimmed crown molding, and a beautiful curved staircase. We love the character! Just like something on House Hunters International! It has a small garden in front, and the landlord has told us it is fine to use it for our dog to play in. It’s older than the places in the suburbs, but it has a great location, just a block away from several bus lines and two blocks from the new high-rise buildings ADEC bought to house all the new teachers. If all the paperwork is approved, we will move in before the end of the month.

Another long post. I keep telling myself I don’t have to write a book every time I start to blog. Maybe I will try shorter and more frequent posts. From the three of us, thanks for staying in touch!

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