Friday, October 8, 2010

A little Q&A

“I'll show you a place, High on a desert plain, Where the streets have no name” – U2

As you can imagine, friends and family have been asking us a lot of questions since we’ve been in the UAE. We haven't always been great at keeping in touch and responding to people’s questions. So, I decided to compile a list of a bunch of the questions that have been answered and post them all together here in one place.

These are just some random questions mixed with some comments and are not in any particular order or organized in any way. They do, however, help paint a picture of some of our experiences and a little bit of what life is like over here.

So a few things here that are against the law:

  • Public displays of affections - you can actually go to jail for kissing
  • Swearing, profanities, insults and all kinds of vulgar language
  • Spreading false news, statements or rumors
  • Taking photos of people - especially photos of women and families - without their permission
  • Spitting
  • Public drunkenness
  • No carrying or doing drugs - punishable by death
  • Begging
  • We were also told never greet anyone or hand somebody something using your left hand - I think that is a cultural thing and not law

Are you comfortable going swimming in your swimming suit?

We can wear our regular swimming clothes in our swimming pool. No one except for the three other families that live in our fourplex can see the pool. If it offends any of them, no one has told us. I've seen three of the other six kids that live here swim in the pool. One little girl always comes out and gets in the pool with us when we are out there. She is always wearing a bikini (from a Muslim family) and we are more modest than that so I'm not really worried about it. Now, we definitely couldn't go for a stroll down the street in our swimming suits or there would be trouble. We have yet to go to a beach but there are many that allow western style swimwear - by the water only of course. You must be covered up walking to and from your car.

Are there restrictions for what you can wear?

As we enter the Mall it feels a little bit like we have stepped onto a BYU campus. There are big TV screens that have signs like "please dress respectfully" and then show pictures of "respectful" clothing. Although, we have seen several people in the malls around here wearing tank tops or short shorts. The mannequins in the store windows could also use some modesty. We have actually been a little bit surprised by some of the skimpy clothing being worn by them.

I’ve heard that PDA’s are outlawed… is that true?

We have seen several couples holding hands - I am guessing we could get away with it in the malls (if we did that kind of thing, right? SMILE). But, kissing would be out of the question.

Do you have church on Sunday?

We have church here on Fridays because that is the Muslims "Holy Day" (not sure what they call it). I don't really know what they do differently on that day from other days. Maybe there is greater attendance at the Mosques for praying on Fridays. We'll have to ask. We actually hear the "call to prayer" during every sacrament meeting. We hear it a lot during the day but for some reason it seems cooler to me to hear it then.

What is your address so we can send you something?

Well, we will not be sharing our address on the blog. But, even if there were not concerns about privacy issues, we still would not be able to. It is strange, but there really are not addresses here like in the U.S. We were wondering about it, and asked…. the response was that if we wanted to receive some type of mail or package, we would need to have it sent to my work, or we would have to go get a PO Box. It makes telling people where you live a little difficult. The streets have numbers, BUT, your street may not be the only one with that number, and there is no organization or reasoning (that I can tell anyway) to the numbering system. Basically we live in villa #3, Mirdif. Good luck with that ;)

So, tell us more about your trip to Oman?

As was mentioned, we had to take a road trip out of the country to Oman to renew our visitor visas (Thank you Hawaii and Idaho for being so difficult to get "official" documents from). We don't have a car yet so we rode with an Iraqi family from Matt's work that also had to renew their visitor visas. They kindly offered to let us ride with them when they found out we needed to go to. We squeezed nine bodies into their seven passenger vehicle and left at 4:30am so that we could get there and back before it got way too hot with that many bodies in the car. It was a fun little adventure for us and we appreciated having Arabic speakers with us even though the guards at the checkpoints could speak some English. Matt and I were laughing later about how we never would have thought we would be traveling through the deserts of the Middle East with an Iraqi man and his children that we don't even know when our country his waging war in his country. They were incredibly nice. I got a big kick out of his five year old girl when I was passing marshmallows all around and before she ate them she stopped and said in her darling British accent "wait, have these got any pig in them? We aren't allowed to eat pig you know."

For those "Lost" fans out there - It was like the full Republican guard manning the Sultanate building...I was even helped by a very large man named Sayid. It was a little intimidating. I was worried if I didn't produce the proper paperwork I might end up being tortured.

Can you read your scriptures in public?

Nobody has told us that we can't. I asked a lady from church and she said that she read her Book of Mormon at the Dentist's Office just the other day as she sat next to a Muslim woman. No one said anything to her

How many children are in the ward?

There are actually more children than we thought there would be. The nursery has about 4 or 5 other kids. The primary probably has 15-20 and the YM/YW probably have about 10-12 total

What kind of currency do they use?

They use the Dirham (bills) Fil (coins). It reminds us a little bit of play money. It doesn't always feel like we are spending actual money when we buy things. That can be a very bad thing.......

How expensive is it to live?

The cost of living seems very similar to Hawaii. Some things are more, some are less. Overall more expensive than the Mainland but about what we were use to in Hawaii. Although everything seems more expensive if you look at the price tags because our brains are thinking in dollars and the price is listed in Dirhams. The exchange rate is 3.67. Matt just bought some hair clippers and they were about 145. It's hard to not think, "Man $145, that's a lot for hair clippers, We are NOT buying those!" In reality they're only about $39.50. I am sure after awhile our brains with automatically think in Dirhams instead
What about groceries, etc?… Depends on what you are buying. Again, most things are similar to Hawaii - although meat, American cheddar cheese and the good kind of ice-cream are much more. A lot depends on the brand and if it is packaged in the UAE or shipped in.

Is your stove gas?

We don't have a stove yet. When we get one it will be gas (I am not excited...NOT a fan of gas stoves). They have two sizes here. Small and big. We will get a big one 90x60 because that is the space allotted in our kitchen (ed: We now have a stove, it is gas, and Yvonne is adjusting very well to it…. from the opinion of my taste buds ;)

Do they have dryers there?

Dryers are not the norm. We don't have one. Most people don't. In our back area we have a clothesline strung up and we also bought a dryer stand. The clothes come off the line as hot as if they had just come out of the dryer. Our washer only has a hookup in the kitchen...that's annoying

Can you get most everything at the grocery store or is it limited?

We can get fresh fruits and vegetables, Flour tortillas are very expensive and only sold in some stores. We haven't tried to buy a lot of things yet seeing that we don't have an oven. But everything we've wanted we've been able to buy. With the exception of applesauce...that is rare. I think eggs can be bought in 12 and 24. I've seen packages but haven't paid attention. We have yet to buy any. I am sure when we do real shopping, we might have a difficult time finding things we are use to. We have a shelf full of Cream of Chicken soup just waiting to be used...I guess we are lucky on that front. Everything is labeled in English and Arabic so we are lucky in that regard to. Cheese is super duper expensive if we buy the good ole cheddar that we are use to but we found a white cheddar from New Zealand that is reasonable and tastes nearly the same.
We've mostly been living off of oatmeal, cereal and sandwiches. We have discovered Arabic bread that is cheap and good. (basically a pita bread)… (ed: we now have a stove and have purchased a lot more, including eggs. As mentioned, we can find about anything we need with the exception of pork products. Things taste a little different and some cost more, but it hasn’t been a problem)

Is church in English?

Yes, church is in English. Every sacrament meeting is actually webcast for the members of our ward that live in other countries like Yemen, Oman etc. We'll have to pass along the link for those of you who can't sleep on a Friday night and our interested in what our church meetings are like. Matt and I were the sacrament speakers this past Friday.

What other languages if any do your ward members speak?

Our ward is about 75% Filipino. So most people speak Tagolog as their native tongue, We also have French speakers, Arabic speakers, Spanish, Portuguese, Some African languages, Urdu etc.

How often do you see your neighbors and do they speak English?

All of our neighbors speak at least some English (In our fourplex, I mean). The kids speak English very well. We see two of the neighbor girls just about everyday when they knock on the door to see if the our girls can play. We see the others as we are coming and going but don't really have a lot of interaction with them other than saying hello. I was just thinking this morning that we should invite each family over after we get some furniture so that we can get to know them.

How do they react to the twins beautiful blondness?

Our girls get a lot of stares and people here have no qualms about coming up and touching your kids - even picking them up. I have had it happen more than once. They don't ask, they don't say anything to me or Matt, they just pick them up . I personally don't like it one bit.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Baby Steps

"He got the action, he got the motion, Oh Yeah the boy can play..." - Dire Straits

Time flies… I’ve been meaning to post a few videos of the kids as they experience new things.  The girls “kind of” understand they are experiencing a new country/culture/place.  Talon has no idea, but he is learning new things everyday.  Right as we moved here, he was learning how to stand, pull himself up, and then walk.  It is amazing how fast he has been learning.  These videos were taken around a month ago and already they seem old because he can walk so much better now.  They really don’t need much explaining.  So, here goes…


Monday, September 27, 2010


“And so I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside. He asked me if I'd seen a road with so much dust and sand….” - Johnny Cash

It was very early in the morning, we were notified that it was time to go.  So, we loaded up our kids in the car while they were still sleeping and headed to the middle of the desert.  The fog was so thick that you could barely see the sides of the road.  Our driver was an Iraqi man with a strong accent.  We hoped that he know where he was going and that we would be safe.  We traveled through the desert until the sun began to rise and melt the fog away enough to see the sand, rocks, dunes, and desert trees jutting up like tombstones.  In the distance we could see the mountains of our destination… Oman.

Apparently, some “official” documents are more official than others.  We had thought that we had all the paperwork we needed (passports, marriage certificate, birth certificates, etc) so that everyone in the family could get their resident VISAs to live in the UAE, but we were wrong.  We found that some of our “official” documents are only official inside the U.S. and if we wanted them to be of use in getting a VISA, we actually had to order new, different “official” documents. 

Anyway, to save you all the boring details, getting the new documents has taken longer than we thought and Yvonne and the kids were running out of time on their 30-day visitor VISAs. In order to renew the visitor visas and be able to stay in the UAE, we could either pay a hefty visa extension fee for each person, or travel out of the country and come back in.  We decided to make the trip to Oman.

The problem was, we didn’t have a car.  Fortunately, there was another family new to the U.A.E that was in a similar situation that offered to give us a ride.  They are a wonderful Muslim Iraqi family with 3 children.  It was a tight squeeze to fit 9 of us in their vehicle, but we made it work.  We got an early start before the sunrise to beat the heat, traffic, and avoid any delays.  It was fascinating, educational, and a little surreal.  Who would have guessed that there would be such thick fog in the middle of 90+ degree weather?  Who would’ve thought that we’d be passing border patrols carrying AK-47s?  Would you ever guess that our kids would be sharing candy, crackers, and playing games with some new Iraqi friends while waiting for paperwork to be processed in a government building on the Omani border.  I can’t say that several hours in an overstuffed car driving through the desert was ‘fun’, but our Iraqi friends offered wonderful/interesting conversation and it was a fascinating ride.

We couldn’t take many photos because of the fog, and then for security reasons, but here are a few of the trip.


Some residential houses (villas) along the wayP1010353P1010354P1010356


A little patriotism for the U.A.E. once we crossed back over the borderP1010358
Want any pottery?
Oman has some mountains… with lots of caves


In the U.A.E we saw a lot of sand
And a few camels… apparently just roaming free in the wildP1010370

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Day Job

“I'm taking what they giving 'cause I'm working for a livin'.” – Huey Lewis and The News

Probably the biggest reason we are in the U.A.E is because of my employment.  The move was a good opportunity to stretch myself and try new things.  I am excited for the new possibilities to increase my educational experiences, and develop additional professional skills.

Many of you may be interested to know a few more details about my employment.  Alas, you will have to be satisfied with some minor details and not many specifics.  For several reasons, this blog will not share a lot of information about my employer and specifics from work.  (mostly I just wanted to use the word ‘alas’ in a blog post ;)  I will try and share some general information and I’m sure there will be some non-work related anecdotes that include information about work.  If you are interested or have questions about my work, please feel free to email me and I can share more privately.

For now, I’ll just say that I work as a teacher for an institution of higher education that is indirectly operated by the government of the U.A.E.  I work at a campus that is part of a nation-wide system of campuses covering the entire country. I teach Muslim Women who are getting their degree in Educational Technology.

This last weekend, the institution I work for had a system-wide educational conference.  It was an opportunity for them to share new ideas, demonstrate educational strategies for the new school year, and showcase some of the success they have achieved.  As part of the event, all of the new employees had an opportunity to meet the U.A.E. Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.  Cool….

Check out the photos below:


Meeting His Highness the Sheikh


Some of the colleagues from workP1010300

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Soak it Up

“It's not having what you want, It's wanting what you've got” - Sheryl Crow

Yvonne is telling me that you blog readers want more pics and less yakety-yak.  Well, she is usually right (unless I am ;), and I have been guilty of being a little long-winded sometimes.
So..... here are a few pics of the kids in the pool.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shop till you Drop

“If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you furniture for your house (Maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman)” – The Barenaked Ladies

Another part of the benefits package offered by my employer is that they provide a furnishing allowance. The housing they provide is not furnished, and although they paid the airfare for our move over to the UAE, they do not pay to ship anything as part of the move. Instead, they provide an allowance so that you can obtain furnishings, household items, and get setup in your home.

The whole process is an interesting experience. The amount they provide seems like a decent sum of money, but then you realize that starting from scratch in a foreign country requires quite a bit. The housing is unfurnished…. That means no furniture, but also no appliances (stove, fridge, washer, etc), no curtains, no rugs, … we didn’t even have toilet seats!

It sounds fun. You are given an empty house and then $$$ to fill it up. But, it isn’t quite that easy.

  • You are unfamiliar with all the stores and regular prices
  • You are constantly trying to calculate exchange rates in your head. (1 dollar = 3.67290571 dirhams)
  • You have no car and taxis aren’t cheap or easy
  • You are already living in your home… and without anything.
  • You have a spouse that shares the decisions with you, but also 3 kids under 3 years old that get tired/bored/grumpy after 30 seconds in any store that doesn’t sell toys.
  • It is the middle of Ramadan, so stores are open at strange hours and by law you are not allowed to eat/drink anything in public all day long.
  • Did I mention 3 kids that still are suffering from jet-lag and keep you awake all night so that you are tired all day and the prospect of shopping is…. Well, who wants to shop when they are exhausted?
  • Pretty much all shopping transactions are done in cash, and the cash just seems like play money.

As I said, it is an interesting experience. But, it can also be educational and fun. Dubai is a shopper’s paradise! I’m not kidding. They have a store for ANYTHING here. Actually they probably have a dozen stores for anything here. The Malls are HUGE! It is nice because it is so hot you don’t want to have to be outside too long and the malls are like a whole city inside. One mall near our house has two amusement parks inside the mall. The stores range in price from super expensive (rolex, Armani, Chanel, etc) to affordable superstores. They do not have any Wal-Marts or Costco stores, but there are other “Hyper-Markets” that try to include everything at affordable prices. There are a few differences though:

  • You have to make a “deposit” to use a shopping trolley (cart… or wagon in Hawaii). You have to put some coins in a little slot on the cart to unlock it from all the other ones… when you return it, you get the coins back.
  • On the shopping trolleys (carts), all 4 wheels can turn. You would think this would make them easier to navigate, but no. A simple turn while moving forward seems like you are trying to navigate a huge object in the zero-gravity of space.
  • In some stores you must check in any large bags you may be carrying and then pick them up from the customer service counter when you are done…. Or you can take them to a desk at the front of the store where they seal the bags so that you will not accidentally steal anything by slipping something in.
  • There are security guards everywhere. Even a small store might have 3 or 4 guards.
  • All produce needs to be weighed and tagged/priced at the produce counter before you can take it to the checkout counter to pay for it.
  • Some of the purchase procedures seem inefficient. To buy a small electronics item, I had to talk to a salesperson in the electronics section, who then entered the sales information into a computer. Then, that person escorted me to a specific sales counter where another person rung up the sale and I paid. I then had a receipt with 4 copies… that had to be stamped and signed by both salespeople. Then I had to take one of the copies to the “collection point” to pick up the item and finally to a security guard to remove the security tag before I could leave the store. This wasn’t for anything expensive or fancy, just something in the U.S. you would throw in your cart with all of your other shopping.

OK, that is probably more information than any of our blog readers wanted. In another post we may have to share some details of our adventurous attempt to go shopping at the Dragon Mart, or the fun times we have had with delivery guys when there are no addresses and they do not speak English. Stayed Tuned…

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Oasis in the Desert

“They raised His banner triumphant, over the desert sod.

And we hear the desert singing, carry-on, carry-on, carry-on” – Carry On

We had our first Sunday on Friday. I know, that sounds confusing, but here in the UAE, the weekend is Friday-Saturday instead of Saturday-Sunday. In addition, they observe the “day of rest” (or the Sabbath) on Fridays. So, Sunday (church) is on Friday and Saturday is still your Saturday. Sunday then becomes the new Monday (or start of the work week). You got it straight? ;) It is still an adjustment for us, but at least some things are familiar.

One of those things is that it is great to get help from a Good Samaritan. We were wondering how in the world we were going to find the church. Even if we had an address, we have no car, it was daunting to think of loading all three kids in a taxi and give directions (just an address does not work) to a taxi driver that doesn’t speak English and may not be familiar with a residential area. Fortunately, a member of the church has swooped in like a super-hero to save the day. We will call him KW for now to protect his super-hero identity. KW has been awesome. He not only contacted us and offered to come to the hotel and pick us up for church, but has also saved the day several times already with rides, advice, and information at crucial times. We are big fans.

Anyway, we did make it to church on our first Friday here. I’ll list a few answers to what are likely some common questions about church.

  • We will be members of the Sharjah Ward in the Manama Bahrain Stake – Yes, it is a ward instead of a branch. Apparently there is also a ward in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi
  • The church building is a large Villa in a residential area. We have sacrament meeting in the front room, with overflow in the dining room…. It is big enough for 100-200 people. All the bedrooms are classrooms or the bishop’s office. (see photo below… I know, not the best photo, we’ll try and get more later)


  • There is a pulpit, but not benches. Instead, there are padded chairs. It isn’t bad, but not quite as easy to manage all the kids at once.\
  • At first glance the ward is probably 70% Filipino and 20% American/Canadian, with the rest made up of African, European, Australian, Pakistani, and others.
  • Church meetings are in English… but there are some strong accents ;)
  • The schedule is the regular 3 hours of meetings
  • The baptismal font is outside in front of the church… Actually it is a swimming pool, but hey, whatever works, right?

Everyone at church was super friendly and very eager to meet us… well, mostly our kids. We immediately felt at home. There were 2 or 3 other new families or individuals that were there for the first time and I think everyone felt a great spirit of friendship and kindness.

It was a great meeting and nice to have a refuge of comfort in the midst of this whirlwind of changes and adjustments that we have been going through. The church truly is the same spirit everywhere on earth. The only downside is that I was asked to teach the priesthood lesson next week. I was hoping for a little longer break before …. Oh well ;)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Moving On Up.

“Our house it has a crowd, There's always something happening, And it's usually quite loud” - Madness

Part of the benefits package we get for my employment includes housing. They do not own housing, but rather provide housing in the community. It is a nice benefit and was one of the reasons we decided to re-locate here in the UAE for this adventure. We had heard lots of mixed information about the type of housing provided and what to expect, but it all seemed a little vague. We were curious to see what it was like and after a few nights in the hotel (even though it was nice) we were anxious to start settling in. It took a while, but we finally were driven to a suburb of Dubai called Mirdif to see our housing. We got a short tour, and then were asked if it was suitable. Funny that they asked…. We had already been informed that we didn’t really have a choice and if we were not happy with it, there was not an alternative.

Well, the housing had some pros and some cons. Fortunately, we spent most of the last 10 years in a studio apartment in Hawaii, so it wasn’t too difficult to get our “approval.”

The good:

  • Plenty of space – 3 bedrooms
  • A private backyard-area that is enclosed… we’ll have to wait a while until the weather cools
  • Private parking
  • A relatively short commute to work – Around 20 minutes while others may have an hour or more
  • Various convenient shopping options within 5-10 minutes
  • A swimming pool (see the bad)

The bad:

  • DIRTY… Yvonne was not happy
  • Noisy – Right in the Dubai Airport’s flight path
  • No fridge, stove, …. Appliances at all
  • Strange water system – You have to turn on the bathroom sink for a second before you can flush the toilet… then, the toilet leaks a little.
  • The swimming pool is small. And, it is shared with the 3 neighbors (I know, picky picky ;)
  • Small kitchen

All in all, it is very livable (once we actually get appliances, furniture, beds, etc), but it will take some work. I’m sure the blog readers really are mostly just interested in what it looks like. So, here are some photos:

There are some things to get used to. It is 100% tile. With no furniture and 3 little kids that love to run around and explore… and yell while doing so, it is LOUD. Talk about Echo and the Bunnymen ;). The jets flying over every 5 minutes don’t help, but I’m sure once we get some furnishings and rugs we’ll get used to things.

Another interesting thing, they don’t really have addresses here. Yes, that doesn’t make sense, and is very confusing. I asked the housing rep that showed us our place what the address was and he just said “Villa 3”…. Huh? Are you serious? I guess he was. Apparently, you basically have to give directions (not addresses) for everything. No one has mail delivered to their house, and yes, it is kind of a pain. Interesting.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week 1 - HOT HOT HOT!

“Me mind on fire -- Me soul on fire -- Feeling hot hot hot” – Buster Poindexter

The Hotel suite was nice. It had a kitchen, a living room, a washer, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The kids loved running around and exploring things. They quickly found the fascinating things that indicated… yes, we are in a different county. Things like:

  • All the light switches are different and work the opposite of what we are used to.
  • You know how in a kitchen sink there sometimes is a spray nozzle for washing the dishes. Well, they have one of those on a long tube next to each toilet. I don’t think it is for washing dishes ; )
  • The refrigerator is smaller, the washer is tiny, front loading, and takes forever, and the oven/stoves are gas.
  • In each bathroom and in the kitchen there is a light switch that is for the water heater… not that you need it, the cold water is HOT.

Happy we made it to the hotelIMG_0003

Our messy hotel living roomIMG_0004

More of the messIMG_0006

We were very happy to have a kitchenIMG_0009

Two good sized bedroomsIMG_0014

You could even do business on the phone while doing your businessIMG_0015

Did I mention that it is HOT here? We went for a walk outside to a nearby shopping mall with the whole family. It was seriously as if a furnace was blowing on us the whole time. … and this was at night! Of course, we don’t really know how HOT it is. People are saying about 43 degrees or 44 degrees. Who can figure out this Celsius thing? They might as well just say it is about “fiery furnace” degrees or “the surface of the sun” degrees. On our walk, Abigail said “Mom, We in a Fire” as sweat was dripping down her face… she wasn’t even walking, just sitting in the stroller.

Speaking of strollers, they could use some work on their sidewalks. I mean, they could have sidewalks. I guess when it is so hot, who wants to walk outside anyway. Still, usable sidewalks, crosswalks, and any indication that there are pedestrians would be nice.

On the flip side, there is an exotic charm and beauty to the city. We have a cool view from our hotel room overlooking some type of bay or marina and a large mosque. It is fascinating to see the mixture of Islamic cultural architecture and modern business buildings. We can hear the “call to prayer” from our hotel. It is hard to explain, but has a curious musical beauty that adds to the whole experience.


We even have had a chance to hear the first call to prayer that is at something like 4AM. We owe this experience to our wonderful kids. They just can’t seem to figure out a way to get over their jetlag and get on schedule. We try to keep them up a little later, but around midnight or 1AM they all wake up eager to start the new day… It then becomes a nightmare for Yvonne to spend the next 3-5 hours trying to get them to understand that it is still bedtime and they need to go back to sleep. It is torture. Yvonne has been a trooper to deal with it so that I’m not more exhausted for work in the morning than I already am.

The big excitement for the girls is that they got “new pink shoes.” Some of you are aware that we had been looking for some croc/clog type shoes for the girls that are easy to take off/put on but couldn’t find anything in their size that was not expensive. Well, they got new pink shoes… exactly what we were looking for. The price: 4.95 dirhams… in US Dollars: about $1.40. What a deal! … and who would have thought that shoes for under a buck fifty would be so exciting and result in smiles for all.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Traffic in the Sky – We Survived!

“There’s traffic in the sky

And it doesn’t seem to be getting much better…” – Jack Johnson


All in all, it took about 28 hours. Starting in Rexburg, we drove to Idaho Falls then flew to Salt Lake to Atlanta to Dubai and then a drive to the Hotel in Sharjah. We had been dreading the flight. I mean, who really wants to be enclosed in tight quarters with a bunch of strangers for 27 hours while trying to keep two 2-year-olds and a 10-month-old entertained so they don’t cry and annoy everyone around them? Would anyone enjoy that prospect? I didn’t think so.

Things went pretty well on the first two legs of the journey. The kids got a little restless on the second flight to Atlanta, but it wasn’t too bad. We were really worried about the big 15 hour flight from Atlanta to Dubai. At the airport, it was interesting how obvious a difference there was in the atmosphere just waiting at the gate for boarding to begin. Everyone waiting for the flight was a lot more serious… there were no other kids waiting to fly and all the passengers would look at us with a look of “I sure hope I don’t have to spend 15 hours sitting next to that family” We tried to smile and act like it was no big deal. Then, while trying to move a huge stroller, 3 kids, and 5+ carry-on bags, Abigail tripped and did a faceplant on the tile floor right in the middle of the gate area. Of course, she started screaming like a banshee and it took several minutes to console her. During that time, you could feel every eye on us… and everyone’s dread that they would have to listen to Banshee Abi the whole trip. …. Definitely NOT the way you want to start a long flight.

In the end, it was an exhausting trip, but the kids did remarkable well. They are kids, so it wasn’t perfect (or easy) but we survived and didn’t make any enemies. In fact, most the passengers around us made comments about how well the kids did. We were just happy the flights were over and we weren’t trapped in an enclosed space anymore. J

Fortunately, my employer had organized the Marhaba service for us. Basically we were met by a guide that helped us fast-track getting to the baggage claim, through customs, and off on our shuttle to the hotel. We were soooo grateful. We were tired and somewhat lost with all the lines, and Arabic. It was a bit overwhelming when we reached the LARGE customs processing room to see dozens of lines filled with hundreds of people moving very slowly. We had TONs of luggage with the kids, carry-ons, etc and it looked like a nightmare to have to wait in a line for what appeared to be a LONG time. Luckily, our speedy little guide moved us past all the lines to a VIP section and we were out of there in 5-10 minutes. We now LOVE our Marhaba guide.

We stepped out of the airport… it was almost midnight, and we were HIT by a wave of humid heat.. It was HOT. We had to sweat a little while we waited for the shuttle, but not for too long. The shuttle was big, nice and very well air-conditioned. We had about a 20 minute drive to the hotel and got our first glimpses of the city, the buildings, and all the Arabic road signs. We were tired and it was night time, so it was a little surreal… like we were dreaming. Of course, we were so tired that maybe we were dreaming a bit. It was like a dream come true though when we reached the hotel and we knew that the end of the trip was in sight.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are we Crazy?

“In a world full of people, only some want to fly, Isn’t that crazy?”

“Oh were never gonna survive unless we get a little…. crazy” – Seal

People have been asking what we are up to, what our plans are. When we would tell them that we were moving to the middle east… taking our family including 3 small children to live in the middle east for an extended period of time, they would usually say something like: “How exciting, that will be a great adventure.” If you looked into their eyes though, you could see they were really saying “WHAT are they thinking? Are they CRAZY?”


Well, friends and family, maybe we are just a little bit ;) Of course we like to use other words…. Like fun, adventurous, fascinating, courageous, and exciting.

In case you were wondering, here are the crazy, errr adventurous new changes in our lives.

  • Who: The whole family
  • What: We are moving to the UAE (United Arab Emirates) for the next few years.
  • Where: For those that do not know, the UAE is located in the on the Saudi peninsula in the Middle East. It is across the Persian Gulf from Iran. You may have heard of Dubai, the most well known of the Emirates.. Dubai has been in the news a lot the last few years for their extravagant growth, palm shaped islands, indoor ski slope, and the tallest building in the world.
  • When: We will be making the 25+ hour flight the end of August. A flight that long with 3 kids under 3 years old may be the “craziest” part of the whole adventure
  • Why: I (Matt) will be teaching at a college for women. The students will all be UAE nationals working toward their bachelors degree in Educational Technology.