This last week has been somewhat of a blur to be totally honest. We have been so busy that trying to describe or pen it may be difficult. Am still totally in love with this country and my new town. By far the best decision I have ever made.
For the future teachers who are coming to the UAE and have heard horror stories about the West know this: it is remote, it is hot, there is sand every where, there ARE shops where you can buy your things locally, they (major shops in Abu Dhabi city) will deliver here - granted only one day a week, depending on availability - people here are extremely friendly, the housing is amazing, schools are plentiful and as the group on FB suggest, Wild, Wild West is the BEST.
Like I said we have been so busy. Our hotel here in MZ was awesome. Many people told me that the desert was beautiful and to be honest I was, at best, sceptical. I mean, it is only sand, sand and more sand so what could be beautiful about that? I was wrong! The wide open spaces, the flowing sand dunes and the whistling wind make for some truly amazing photos (even if I say so myself).
We had meetings with our EMT (English medium teacher) support team (John, Martha and Casey) on Wednesday morning in our hotel which was very informative and they are a brilliant team who were able to place many minds at ease as to what really happens out here. Again, FB groups and pages, as much as they may be informative, spread wild rumour which is not good for the psyche or soul. Our EMT support team gave us the news we were all waiting for and that was that Mahmoud (sp) from housing would be here the following morning to allocate housing - the most stressful (thanks to wild rumour on FB) part of this journey. Once our meeting had concluded a few of us made our way into town for some dinner and a little price hunting. En-route we came across this awesome sight which I was able to capture. Camel crossing, where they have right of way!
One thing about the UAE - which I think is great - is that between 14h00 and 18h00 (the hottest time of the day) most - not supermarkets per se but furniture places, especially in the industrial area, laundries, markets and local shops - will close and then reopen for the evening. Everything seems to happen here in the evening. Malls are crawling with local and expat families all having fun together. One thing I have noticed is that family is exceptionally important to the Emirati nation, it is not uncommon to see Mum and Dad playing with the kids in the parks at 20h00 in the evening or even having a go in the fun parks (arcades) in the malls. They told us family and relationships are key here and they could not have been more accurate.
The time/meeting/person we were all waiting for arrived at our hotel on Wednesday morning as anticipated and handed us keys to our new homes. (I was lucky enough to have made contact with some EMT teachers living here so knew which apartment blocks to look out for, and luckily had met an awesome young lady who showed us around her apartment so knew what I wanted. He started with me, not sure why but it worked out in my favour totally as he asked if I had a preference of where I would like to go and I told him proudly that I did, and without hesitating or questioning he handed me a set of keys! What a relief - I now had keys to my very own Villa in the UAE. We signed forms and then made our way into town (quicker than normal as you can only imagine) to see exactly what we had received.
My new home, my own space, mine! I was over the moon and was beginning to make designs and think of ideas of exactly what I wanted where and what furniture I would need. I was blessed. I have a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom Villa all to myself. It will be my space, the place I can escape to after work or a space to hide out on the weekends.
Now the fun began! This is where our days almost merged into one! The following day (Thursday) we departed the hotel at 07h00am to make our way into the city to go and order our furniture. Visits to IKEA, Home Centre, EMax and all sorts of stores to pick out what we wanted, pay for it (thanks furniture allowance) and arrange for delivery. One mistake we had been warned about with regards to delivery is that there is a Madinat Zayed suburb in the city of Abu Dhabi and trying to explain that we were in the MZ in the Western region or desert proved to be challenging but we came right!
I was able to get a mattress, bed frame, lounge furniture, TV, Microwave, kettle, linen and crockery from the major centres or city and would get my appliances locally in MZ.
We stopped off at the Cheesecake Factory to have a bite to eat. This became a story in itself! I ordered a starter portion of Nachos for lunch as I wanted to try this cheesecake everyone raved about! Well when my platter for 6 of Nachos arrived I knew I would be taking some home in a “doggy bag” but never did I think that it would be more than half of the plate. It was massive. The portions were HUGE! Much to my disappointment I did not get to try the cheesecake as I would have exploded - another time perhaps! We shopped some more and then made our way back to MZ and the hotel. We arrived home (hotel) just after 21h00 - so it was a long, successful but exhausting day.
Friday (Day 1 of the weekend here) we spent quietly in the hotel during the day and again that evening made our way into town to find appliances. Now we had no idea where to look but luckily the girls (Aslinn - Irish and Erma - SAfrican) had met a wonderful local man in the hotel who offered to take us around the industrial area. Little did we know that he was going to find us the best deals. I was able to get a 6 seater dining room table and chairs, beautiful hand sewn rug, fridge, cooker (stove) and water cooler for AED 3000. What a bargain as my bed almost cost me exactly the same!
I had now, thanks to that awesome purchase, completed all of my furniture shopping - well at least for now. We arrange delivery of the dining table and chairs for Saturday morning 11h00am. So the next morning I woke and made my way into town to my new home to receive the delivery at 11h00. Well it didn't arrive until 19h25 that evening - patience and flexibility! Our appliances were then delivered last night at 20h00.
Yesterday (Sunday) was also our first day at school. No kids just yet, just normal start of the year for teachers and admin staff. It was awesome to meet the other EMT teachers here and such a variety of nationalities. Met the new principal who is from Ohio and has been in Kuwait for the last couple of years. He is also new to the school this year. We met everyone and then sat around and drank tea/coffee until 13h30 and then the fun began again…
We made our way to the local head office to have documents authenticated, signed and stamped and then went to the local branch of Etisalat to connect/arrange internet, TV and phone. We were helped by an awesome lady who sorted us out in no time.
So in short this is what is happening this week for me:
So I am busy, which I love. As soon as I have finished my new home I will post pictures for all to see. So as I finish typing this weeks instalment of my blog here in the wonderfully cool Starbucks sipping on my Mango/Passion Fruit smoothie, I wish you all a successful week and remember to Live life and LOVE it!