Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dubai and then Addis!

Little Manhattan in Dubai (United Arab Emirates)--

Day 1 and 2 (and 3) blur together and seem to last longer than 24 hours. I boarded the plane at Houston, excited to start my trip, and more than 2 hours (and almost 2 movies) later I was still sitting in the plane, at the gate, while the mechanics fixed the air conditioning. We finally got in the air and I continued to watch movies and read until they served the food. It was an uneventful, but long flight (I think it was 15 hours?!) We finally got to Dubai- and landed after 10pm. I felt empowered finding my way through the airport by myself- first getting the transit visa, then going through immigration and customs, and lastly finding the shuttle to the hotel. Because I was flying on Emirates and had a layover of 13 hours (cut short by the delay), I got a voucher for a free night at the Millennium Hotel. I met a nice girl from Zimbabwe (married to US Army guy and living in Colorado), who was on her way back for a friends wedding. Talking about a long trip, she flew Denver to Houston to Dubai then she’d go to Johannesburg to Harare to her town. I checked in to my room, tried and failed to get internet, and then decided to go down and get dinner. The Middle Eastern food was so good- hummus and pitas, eggplant, fried vegetables, chicken, fruit… At dinner I met the girl from Zimbabwe and a Lebanese dad from Houston. Another guy from India said that they were going to have a night city tour from 10:30-12:30 (midnight), so the girl and I decided to do it! For $30 we drove all over the city checking out the lavish hotels-
the Atlantis hotel (above) has a room on the top for $35,000 per night (or you can stay for a mere $500/night in cheaper rooms)! This particular hotel was in this development called “The Palm” The Palm is a development shaped like a Palm tree (actually there are 3 different palm trees), which are neighborhoods built out of sand and rocks into the Persian Gulf, and where each home has their own private beach. The whole purpose was to create more beaches (private beaches) for residents, and since it was built into the water, it is known as an engineering feat. There was a lot of money in Dubai- it's the Oil & Gas business hub. The guide told us that water costs more than oil (gas is $1.30/gallon). I'm not sure of the statistics, but it seems like Dubai must be an extremely expensive place to live, and your neighbors would be very wealthy. We drove past Sheiks’ enormous, rich mansions. Foreigners cannot own property in the palms neighborhoods or the downtown (we can only lease it for 99 years), but it doesn't matter because most expat positions get free housing. We walked on a very fine sandy beach, and saw an island that one of the Sheiks owns.
We also saw the tallest building of the world (above left), the biggest mall in the world. More than half of the population is immigrants and signs were in Arabic and English. We asked our guide about tourism, because we were told it is a HUGE industry.. He told us the most popular tourists in Dubai have been the Chinese- who knew!? We passed air conditioned bus stops, which I am sure are quite handy in the intense heat- driving around at midnight we were a cool 108. There is no crime at all in Dubai- there were families and kids walking around on the beach at midnight, and our guide told us that it is very safe for children to play anywhere.

When I got back at 1am, I set the alarm for 6am. The hotel had already told me they would have a wake-up call at 6am, and the shuttle would leave at 6:30. When I woke up, 5 minutes later I got a phone call from Tonio!! So exciting and unexpected. After the phone call I ran downstairs and grabbed some yogurt, a roll and an apple and boarded the overcrowded shuttle. I made it to the airport, and at the gate I met Mary and Nick. We are all so excited!!! The 3.5 hour trip seemed longer than my 16 hour trip yesterday, and the last hour was the slowest!! We made it, got the visa, exchanged money, found no one to pick us up, and grabbed a taxi to the TDS Guesthouse. Ato Teklu called and said that we couldn’t go to the transition house today because we were too tired (? not at all- too excited to meet the kids!!!!) so instead we grabbed a macchiato at the café across from the hotel, and then took a taxi to the shops by the Post Office. It was funny because on our way to the hotel we saw the students who hang out outside the guesthouse, who remembered me from last time and welcomed me back to Addis. Then when we got to the taxis, the taxi driver remembered me and gave am a hug and welcomed me back to Addis. Then after the macchiato we saw the other taxista that remembered me and also welcomed me to Addis. Mary and Nick were laughing at how I already knew people in Ethiopia. We shopped at the souvenir shops, and I got a couple of little crosses, and some bird figures for Eathan, a bowl for Christy. When we got back to the hotel, we met Jennifer and Cale, and we decided that we should go out for dinner at Habesha 2000 to see the dancing. Dancing, delicious food, good company- I love it. We had a great first day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Dubai is sure different! I'm glad you had a safe trip to Addis. Love, Mom