I Made It!

Well, the worst is over.

Saying good-bye to my friends and family was torture, and the girls took me to the airport yesterday. After prying myself away from them, I made my way through security. Due to the snail’s pace check-in at the Etihad counter, I only had about ten minutes before boarding. After the cattle call, I settled in to my “smaller than I thought it was going to be” seat. Because the woman next to me ended up sleeping for most of the flight, getting up to stretch or go to the bathroom was next to impossible; I was held captive for hours. So an aisle seat is definitely in order when I fly home.

I met four teachers on the flight but didn’t realize that there were quite a few more until we gathered in the AD airport. Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted by a woman who checked us in and delivered us to a man who led our group through the eye scan/questioning area and visa/passport stamping. We retrieved our luggage, were loaded onto a bus, and made our way to the InterContinental.

After enjoying a welcome mocktail- a glass of watermelon juice- my new acquaintances and I found our rooms (four out of five of us are on the 10th floor, which aids in communication because our phones are messed up for various reasons that I won’t get into now.) I eventually went to bed around 3am and slept until 6:30. In an effort to regulate my sleep/wake cycle, I got out of bed and busied myself by unpacking. A few hours later I went to the free breakfast buffet, which is enormous. They serve everything: various types of eggs, potatoes, waffles, French toast, fruit, vegetables, hummus, labneh (sort of like tzatziki), salad, meats, cheeses, olives, breads, etc. There’s also a small table with pork products and specially marked plates to keep them separate from everything else. I had a few tried-and-true breakfast items and sampled one or two new things. Extremely dehydrated, I drank no fewer than eight glasses of water (nobody drinks the desalinated tap water in the UAE; all of it is bottled). One of the many nice waiters told me to call housekeeping whenever necessary to have extra bottles delivered to my room at no charge. Had I known that last night, I wouldn’t have rationed what littIe I had.

After breakfast, our group of five went to Marina Mall to exchange dollars for dirhams and to buy local SIM cards. We ate in the food court, where the people-watching was much more interesting than the food!! After returning to the hotel, we ventured over to the pool (I can’t get the captions to post, but the 4th pic is the hotel pool and the last pic is the awesome Gulf view from the 3rd floor pool area). A woman signed me in, added bottled water and ice to a small cooler, grabbed a few towels and set me up under an umbrella- no complaints on this 109 degree day! It took less than five minutes for me to sidle up to Aquarius, the swim-up pool bar. Thanks to the teacher discount, what would’ve been a rather expensive Heineken draft was reduced to approx $7.50. Our group enjoyed the pool and Gulf view for a few hours before calling it a (very) early evening; everyone wants to rid themselves of jetlag as soon as possible.

This is the life! We’ll buckle down on Sunday (the UAE work week is Sun-Thurs) when orientation begins. Until then, it’s time to get some sleep!

My lovely room

My lovely room

View from my hotel room

View from my hotel room

Interesting sign

Interesting sign

<a <a InterContinental poolView of Gulf from pool

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Angela Hacke
    Aug 15, 2014 @ 18:14:12

    So glad you made it there safely! What an amazing experience you are going to have. The pictures are beautiful. Can’t wait to hear more.

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    Reply

  2. Marina Kasicki
    Aug 15, 2014 @ 22:48:08

    So did you pray first or bowl first?

    Like

    Reply

  3. Laura Maniola
    Aug 16, 2014 @ 16:18:28

    So glad to hear that you are safely there & love reading about all that you have seen and done already. It’s going to be an amazing couple of years! Miss you already:)

    Like

    Reply

  4. Deb Mech
    Aug 16, 2014 @ 18:44:02

    Bowling already, huh? Those Emiratians (is that what they call themselves?) don’t know who they’re dealing with! So happy to hear you made it safely and are enjoying it so far. Looking forward to many more interesting posts!

    Like

    Reply

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