Arriving Abu Dhabi - Jan. 1-2, 2018
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
I'm in a bit of a daze. The day of travel has made me feel as if I just woke from dreaming and regained consciousness! Still, I will share what's on my mind.
Somehow I thought landing in Abu Dhabi would be a completely new awe-filled experience. I imagined seeing the people and sights would make my heart pound with excitement and perhaps apprehension. Just think about the name, Abu Dhabi! I thought we would hear strange languages, see exotic, conforming traditional dress, and palm trees on sand. Hmm! Surprise, surprise! Abu Dhabi reminds me of Las Vegas. Everything is shiny and new and polished clean. Nearly everyone speaks English and not everyone has brown hair and eyes. Like at home, there is no standard dress. Many women wear hajibs and long skirts but others ignore tradition and dress like high-fashion models with tight black skirts and tall, stilettoes. I was surprised to realize that seeing women in traditional dress is not a curious sight at all any more. Without knowing it, we have become accustomed to seeing Muslim woman routinely in our lives. Most young women have long hair and wear heavy, beautiful black, flattering eye make-up; they are gorgeous. Men we've seen wear both traditional dress and western wear. Younger ones wear tight black jeans and leather jackets. Those in traditional dress are sometimes physically large and imposing in their linen shifts and white headdress. Occasionally, though, a baseball cap replaces the traditional head gear. I personally prefer the baseball caps, especially ones of camo.
Finally, to dispel another misconception, we are approaching 30 hours in-country and have not yet seen a burning sand dune and not a single camel! (forgive my goofy humor)
All this to say, so far we have confirmed, of course, there are great differences in the way we and they here across the globe may dress and the manner in which we live our daily lives. Most notably, however, we are all very similar; we adore our children, we worship our God, we want pleasant, healthy lives for our families, we feel pain and joy, and we work to fulfill our dreams. Surely, we can seek and find a way for folk here in the East and those of us Westerners and other parts of the world to simply get along and to accept each other... and to relish both our similarities and our differences.
Our flight here was long but not unpleasant. The first leg from Atlanta to Istanbul was eleven hours but we had a row of five seats to ourselves. Door to door the trip with layover consumed about 23 hours. By the time we reached our hotel in Abu Dhabi we were exhausted and not in any celebratory mood even though it was just an hour or two into the new year here. We gloomily regarded the lobby lounge that was rocking with loud music and a small crowd of late night/early morning revelers and headed straight to our comfy bed and hoped to find elusive sleep.
We did sleep a few hours last night but it was a long time coming for me. After a lazy morning we had a pleasant late afternoon lunch by the pool and later walked to the local Carrefour, a supermarket we have found in many countries, to buy aspirin and Cipro (don't need a prescription here). Later we visited the lounge for happy hour and still in the travel funk, dined on peanuts and fruit before falling into bed again. At this moment, it is 7:40 am on Tuesday but we've been awake for hours reading and catching up with email, etc. Thanks to Google we just learned that Georgia won the Rose Bowl Game only moments ago in Pasadena in a double overtime.
Finally, although we have spent a full day here we have not seen much of the area; but we will. We meet our cruise ship here later this morning and will have an opportunity to explore the city and the Grand Mosque from the ship this afternoon and tomorrow before sailing Wednesday evening.
Please note, as we board the ship we will no longer have access to WIFI - they do offer it on the ship but I'm usually not willing to pay the exorbitant prices! Therefore my posts will be few during the next twelve days. Until then . . . ta-ta!