Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Abu Dhabi, Day 2 (well, kind of?)

The next day was a combination of frustrating and fun. And it was only frustrating because of me. Laura was great to schlep me around and try to keep the boys happy and help me figure things out. This was the day we kind of realized that I only had three more days to see everything and buy souvenirs. We figured out what I still needed to see and do and started trying to put together a schedule of what we were going to do.

Since Heritage Village had been closed (sort of...the artisans were taking their daily break, but the village itself was still open) on the first day I had been in the country when we tried to go, we decided to give it another go. Turns out that they weren't open on Sundays--at all. Strike two, and you're out, Heritage Village. We figured that it wasn't really worth making another trip out there when I had other things to see and do, and I had gotten the feel of it a week prior.

So Laura gave me the scenic tour of the docks and the produce importing warehouses and the fishing boats and nursery suppliers out by the gulf. Commerce happening before my eyes! That was fun, and my nephews enjoyed seeing the boats.

Then we went to a little mall out there and I did some shopping. I found some cool plates with a design that kind of looked like henna, and a pretty white platter (luckily, these fragile items survived the trip home unharmed and unbroken!) Laura took the boys for some lunch while I sauntered about, trying to find things that didn't look like touristy junk and didn't cost an arm and a leg. That's the problem with me: I like authentic things, but things that I will use and won't end up sitting somewhere I will forget about. I'm also somewhat of a cheapskate, but I was a little more driven to spend more just because this was an opportunity I'd probably never have again and I wanted to make the most of it.

After scouring the mall and getting more and more frustrated, I finally met up with Laura and the boys. Avery needed to get home and get a nap, so we decided that Laura would drop me off at a different mall with some stores that were more inclined to my wants for the day. As most of you know, shopping is fun for me, but only in small chunks. I realized that this was when I needed to get it done, and I wouldn't have many other opportunites, so I embraced the moment and wandered the mall for three hours. The beautiful thing about vacation was that I ate whatever I wanted, so I stopped for ice cream, had some lunch. Laura had told me about a store called Lulu that had some fun shoes and other authentic items like bags and such, so I headed down there to check it out. I went up and down the shoe aisles about twelve times (this is not an exaggeration!) and found a few cute ones, but my feet are too big for anything they've got there. It was disconcerting, to say the least. Eh, c'est la vie. I tried! I did find a cute bag that I bought and a bottle of tamarin juice syrup, which we had been looking for before but were unable to find. I also found a poster of a fairly good-looking man that I admittedly stared at for a good whole minute. Please don't mock. If you are a woman and had seen it, I daresay that you may have done the same! ...and maybe even if you'd been a guy! All I can say is that if I'm remembering it now, you must realize that it had a profound impact on my life at that moment. :)

Laura came and picked me up from the mall--talk about feeling 14 again--but only after I had run into one of the ladies I had met at Enrichment the night before. She stopped me and had this brilliant look of recognition on her face, but it took me a minute to realize that she was talking to me and to realize how I had met her before. Being in a foreign country and having someone recognize you is a strange experience!

We went and picked up dinner, and on the way, we saw this little candy shop with Iranian candies. They're more like a combination of cookies and candy, but super tasty...I highly recommend them, should you ever get the chance to pick some up. The lady at the shop kept giving us more and more tastes, and the boys were in heaven, especially since we hadn't gotten home to eat our dinner yet. They tried to sell me a full kilo of candy because it would apparently "travel better," but I really didn't need that much!

That night, we ate Filipino food. I think I impressed Laura with my culinary adventurousness because last she knew, I was sticking with the hamburger and fries. My tastes have luckily changed since I was seventeen. Then I helped Matt do the dishes...he said he'd miss me when I was gone because it cut his work down. We joked in Egypt that I was his second wife, the packhorse, because I usually ended up carrying stuff. And you can only imagine how people looked at our odd little traveling group...sorry, veered off topic there.

After dinner, Laura and I headed down to the local salon to get some henna done. I was so excited! Laura had brought some when she came to visit Utah in October, and it was a lot of fun, so I was anticipating an interesting experience getting it done by the professionals. We got into the back room where they do the henna, and it's several Filipino girls who are really good at what they do. They had my feet done in about fifteen minutes. Then we had to sit there for about 45 minutes to let it dry and get it scraped off. Here's where it got interesting. There were some other women in there having henna done on their hands and arms (I didn't want to get my hands done because I work in an office where I have to have a mostly professional image, so henna all up my arm probably wouldn't be a go...), and Laura, being the social butterfly she is, struck up conversations with the people we met. There were two adult sisters there, one of them had her accounting degree, and the other was finishing up school for a business administration degree (you go, girls!). They spoke pretty good English, but they told us we should learn Arabic. Laura told them it was hard...and she's right! But those girls had a good grasp of the English language, so talking with them wasn't too difficult. We found out that the one who was graduating soon was three months pregnant with her first child and that her marriage had been arranged. Maybe I'm just naive, but I thought people didn't do that anymore...yep, just my ignorance showing there... She talked about it like it was just run-of-the-mill. I don't know about you, but I would definitely not want my parents choosing a husband for me. I guess that sort of takes the stress out of dating and trying to find the "perfect" one and all the high expectations, though. So a case could be made either way. Another woman who came in later talked to us for a bit, too. She kept telling us that our skin was "too white" (which, I guess the Arabic language speakers confuse "so" and "too" sometimes). And Laura was trying to relate with her and told her that white people are always trying to make their skin tanner. See, they're envious of our pasty (well, at least mine!) whiteness, while we're jealous of their tanness. They even have skin bleaching creams and everything. It was awesome to feel somewhat idolized. And a very interesting exposure to the culture, sitting there in the salon where all of the women take off their hair scarves and extra robes.


Blogger Adrianne Miller said...

You blogged on my most busiest work day ever. D you.

April 11, 2008 at 1:26 PM

Blogger Erika said...

Yes I am finally reading the rest of your account, I wanted to do it all at once yay go me. So very cool feet. And no way, they try to bleach their skin? How funny. AND WHY did you not take a picture of that poster-man!!!

April 23, 2008 at 9:59 PM


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