Monday, January 23, 2012

Guest Blogger: Lucy's Arrival

How cute am I?

Two weeks!  That’s how long the calendar says I’ve been here.  I can’t believe it, it seems like 2 days.  Hi, I’m Lucy Osaer, the last of the “tripod” to get here.  Anne has asked me to Guest Blog, to share my perspective on our new life here in Abu Dhabi.

Our journey really began 10 months ago, back in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI, when my husband Tom came home and mentioned he had the opportunity to move to the UAE.  I had 2 words for him: “DO IT!”  Tom was a bit startled at how quickly I said that, but I am an adventurer seeker, I love to travel, and I immediately felt this was a good move for us.  Shortly after that day in March 2011 Tom was off for an interview and on May 15th, he left home to move here to Abu Dhabi, with the condition that he was bringing with him his two work colleagues and traveling buddies of many years, Mark and Dana. Everyone asked if I was really moving and I was very positive with my answers even though at the time, I was not in a hurry to get here. Don’t forget, when Tom moved it was the beginning of Abu Dhabi’s “hot season.”  Besides, I was waiting for my friends, Anne and Debbie, to get there.  So Tom bravely paved the way for all of us, and I, for one, am especially grateful. 

Fast forward…. Debbie first, then Anne makes it here, and still no Lucy.  Hmm….. Okay, I will be patient.  I am aware things don’t always go as planned here, as you are aware from reading Anne previous posts.  When will I get my ticket?  It will come, was always my reply.  Okay, more patience is required.  Finally, the email in December comes.  I have my E-Ticket. 

Qatar Airlines had me with the pajamas.
Fast forward…. 31 Dec 2011, getting on the jet plane.   The negotiated terms of the contract included Business Class travel accommodations.  I am giddy with excitement and as I sit down and am offered a drink, busy enjoying all the space around me.  Even with my legs stretched out, I can’t reach the seat in front of me.  Woo hoo!  Except that the 15 inch TV in front of me is a touch screen, and I can’t reach it.  That’s alright, I am handed a remote.  Nice. I’m a happy little camper.  Just when I can’t be happier, I am handed a Qatar Airline furnished bag filled with everything I need to make my flight a more pleasurable experience.  There are pajamas in the bag. Pajamas!  Oh my goodness!  I am really a very happy camper now.   In the compartment below the TV, there are padded bed sheets.  Wow, my seat (which by the way, massages) extends full length to make a bed.  I fall asleep.  My disappointment with my flight is that when I wake up, I only have an hour and a half left on the flight.  What?  We are almost there? 

It was a truly wonderful flight.

During the quick layover in Doha, Qatar I make a trip to the Duty Free for a few beverage purchases, then off to the Business Lounge.  Very nice, wine, more massage chairs.  2011 is ending beautifully.  Fast forward, our arrival in Abu Dhabi.  After retrieving our four 70 pound bags, the max allowed, and our four extra-large carry-ons, we are in a taxi heading toward our villa. 

It is warm here at 11:30pm on New Year’s Eve, and I am fully rested and excited.  On the way home, Mark calls to welcome me here.  I look ahead and in the skies I see fireworks.  They are coming from The Club on the water.  Wow!  Tom and I are home just long enough to drop off our luggage.   We have the taxi wait, and then we are off again to The Club, which Tom has joined, and there is a big New Year’s Eve party tonight. 
My lovely high heeled Z-Coils
blended very well
with the gowns and tuxes
But wait, I’m in jeans and a light cashmere crew sweater! No big deal, I hear.  Okay. . .  We get to the gate, and Tom calls his British friend Lee to meet us.  Here comes a man I have heard a great deal about, he looks like a 50ish Lee Majors in a tuxedo.  OMG. Tux?  And I’m in jeans?  Nice first impression.  The Club is filled with ladies in gowns and men in their tuxes.  Six hours later, we are on our way home and I have had the BEST New Year’s Eve/Day that I can ever remember.  We danced, Tom ate, we drank, I met all of Tom’s new British friends, and they did not, at all, make me feel awkward for being in jeans and my Z-Coil running shoes.  It was fabulous.  The place was decorated with all the New Year’s white, silver and gold you can imagine.  Hats, horns, etc…  We left at 5:30am and it was great.

Next day, Jan 1st, I am thinking we are just going to hang low.  That was the plan but nope, whirlwind Day 2.  Back to The Club, then over to Britt and Lee’s for dinner.  I am asked if I have jet lag yet, and no, not yet, is my reply.  
New friends and new foods.

At this point, I shall just say, it has been one activity after another, every single day.  I have joined a group called American Women’s Network.  We have met for coffee, a cooking class and a neighborhood walk, with many more activities to come.  I have had lunch at Debbie’s, dinner at Anne’s, 2 impromptu dinners here at the villa, enjoyed the Volvo Ocean sailing race, shopped, lunched, gone to an Emirate wedding, a camel farm, been to the old world fresh fruit markets, fresh fish markets where you pick the meal, then go to another part of the same building and have it cleaned, and an Art Exhibit, where we received poster sized photos of ourselves.   This probably brings me up to speed with the exception of St. Joseph’s Church.  By the way, that jet lag?  Never got it.
St. Joseph's has over 100,000
expatriate Catholics from
all over the world.

Last Sunday, I ventured out on my own and went to church at St. Joseph's.  It is a very large modest church.  I am told a very busy one, since this is the only Catholic Church in all of Abu Dhabi.  The busier services are during the (their) weekend, Fridays and Saturdays.  I will only say it is quite different from St. Paul’s in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.  I will miss the beautiful choir back home.  The service here is a quick 40 minutes and no music.  In and out. 

 Fridays and Saturdays (the weekend here) this gets very full.

How do I feel about our villa?  Home sweet home?  Well, our villa is quite lovely.  It is a multi-story, very spacious 4 bedroom, each with its own full bath, plus a bathroom downstairs.  There are maid quarters, just outside, next to the car port.  It is centrally located, in the area known as Al Khalidiyah, not far off the Corniche waterfront.  The Corniche is our version of Lakeshore Drive.  I am walking distance from everything I need, and a taxi is available just outside our compound for when we go out.  Drinking and driving is not an option here.  There is a fantastic Club House on the premises, fully equipped with all my favorite gym machines, a nice swimming pool, a men’s steam room (I can use the steam room during “ladies hours“, and there’s a women’s sauna, in the changing rooms, that also has showers.  It’s perfect, however, Mark and Dana do not live in this compound, which makes it less convenient to just drop by to visit Anne and Debbie.

In the amount of time I have been here, the 3 questions I get asked the most are:  What do I wear, what do I eat and how are the people.  Well, first, the temps have been fairly cool here, so I mostly wear short sleeve tops and capri pants during the day, and light sweaters with jeans, or long pants in the evenings.  I have been enjoying stuffed vine leaves, hoummus, and tabouli.  On my third night Tom and I walked around our neighborhood and he took me to his favorite olive shop.  Small little store with every kind of olive stuffed with all kinds of goodies.  I am eating more olives now, and fresh ginger is put in our daily salads.  Lastly, the people are so hospitable and generous.  I feel perfectly safe wandering around my neighborhood alone to shop and take walks.  It is such a beautiful country. 
The people are hospitable and even the camels are friendly!
Thank you to Anne, for taking the time to Blog our adventures here.  I have a new respect for the amount of time she spends on them.  If you get a chance, come visit.  I am embracing the culture here and am thankful for this opportunity to travel this beautiful part of the world.  Peace and thank you for reading this blog.

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