Saturday, April 7, 2012

We Live in Abu Dhabi

So, I did notice that it's been four months since my last post. I've thought now and then about coming up with something to say, and then haven't done it. We've just been so busy with the every day things... which is what is kind of amazing: we live here. Daily. I mean, of course we do, but sometimes I have to take a moment and picture my location on the globe- this little dusty tip of the Arabian peninsula that is home now.

And living here means we do things like this:

We visit the latest hotels as they open. This one is the Hyatt Capital Gate. It was built with an 18 degree lean, making it the leaning-est tower  in the world.

You can see that the inside has this massive infrastructure to support the weight of the leaning building.

 When a special event is coming up (we heard it was Sheikh Khalifa's birthday this time) the UAE stunt jets start practicing right over our house. It's quite a show!

Now that Tucker is here, and Mark has tamed the garden, we spend a fair amount of time outside with him. He likes to bark at the cats and the chickens that roam the neighborhood.
We met another dog that lives on the street behind us, a German shepherd puppy twice as big as Tucker. Maybe she can come over and play.
 We brought Abby's Wii that she got for Christmas and plugged it in using a massive voltage converter. I love the archery on Wii Sports! It's about the only thing I can beat everyone on.
 So, a city can have really amazing things when financial profit is not the only goal. The powers that be in the UAE decided sustainable energy development is a good idea, so Masdar City was created. It's almost empty- a looming shell that may turn out to be a fantastic model for green building and living. We are about to get in the solar powered pod car to take us from the parking area to the sushi restaurant.

We are getting used to being surrounded by beautiful architecture and design.  When the money is there, why not make everything both functional and great to look at?

Mark, my dad, and I constantly notice the attention to beauty that has gone into so many of the buildings here, but I think Abby is just taking the architecture for granted.

Abby had a conversation with the TV sports announcer at the Al Wathba Camel Races. He was interested to know where she was from and if she had ever seen camels race before. I love this picture. So many places we go are swamped with expats, as we greatly outnumber the locals. It's not every day that you get to converse with an Emirati.

This sight is more common than you might think:

"ships of the desert" being carted around in the desert "workhorse," the Toyota truck.

Our eating habits haven't changed too much, other than my new preference for tea over coffee and an increase in the amount of rice we eat.

We are learning to appreciate some local specialties, like this one- lukaymat, which are donut-like fried dough balls with a sweet glaze.

When we left Texas, we were really glad to get away from the over-scheduled feeling of activities every day. It was exhausting. After two years of freedom, though, we have done it again. Abby has tae kwon do class twice a week, and home school park day and horse riding once a week.

Then, add in all the extra things like book clubs, math club, shared learning experiences, field trips, and just special activities offered here for free, like the book fair and the sailing club's Beach Day (that's Abby sailing in the picture), and you have a very busy life.

And I haven't even talked about work, which has been great but busy. I love being the head of faculty because I feel like I can make a difference for the English teachers by smoothing the way between them and the Emirati administrators. I work in a school that is excellent, with an extremely demanding principal and hard-working teachers. Each day is completely different. I spend time organizing resources, planning for and delivering professional development, preparing the English parent newsletter, popping into classes, and lately, preparing for official school inspections that will happen in the next two weeks. I talked to a former coworker at a different school who said that they have been leaving each day at 1:00, right after their students leave. Our students leave at 12:30, and we are often still at school at 3:00! It's worthwhile when you see the progress the children are making, and you hear the comments of the parents about their appreciation of our school.

Well, that's why I haven't posted in ages. I've just been so busy living here.