Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sara's UAE Trip Review

Q and I met Sara on a bumpy Cuban bus no more than half an hour after we met each other. Sara is a Spanish (Bacelona!) girl living in London, UK, and she visited us in UAE back in March after our trip to the Philippines together. This is her posting on her UAE experience, enjoy!

Shu and Sara in Cuba in December 2004


Well, well, well… I know the deadline is far long gone!!!! … but I still would like to blog about my stay in AD with my favourite couple in the world, Q and Shu! It seems so long ago, the London mood has taken over me again but it was a wonderful experience. Shu and I arrived (back) in AD after our adventure round the Philippines, Q was already back – as I write this I am thinking of the people there, currently suffering the effects of a terrible typhoon. I hope everyone in San Fernando is alright.

The weather in AD was perfect every day, my ideal temperature, for a pseudo Londoner that thinks that 20 degrees is the peak of summer! The food was gorgeous, both in the markets and the restaurants, and Q’s cooking creatively delicious. QandS’ flat is very cosy, modern and v. warmly decorated with beautiful pictures all over the rooms. I loved the guest room. Now I can picture them sitting in there whenever we chat online.

Coming back to the food and after a few experiments in the Philippines (balut and crickets, also both recommended) I drank camel milk for breakfast. Also ate kebabs, Thai and on the last day with Q we “eat as much as we could” hotel brunch with Chocolate fountains and an infinite pool.

AD is a city of contrasts. The local culture is well present and interesting to live with and there is plenty of choice due to the internationality of the population. Mall (s)hopping was basically my way of staying cool and avoiding my heart to suffer every time I had to cross a street!!!! Honestly, for me that_was_hard!!! Not being able to walk everywhere – well, one of my TIAD experiences (dixit) was thinking that walking 3 sets of traffic lights was going to take me the same as in UK but nope, it took me over 2 hours (adding 10 min every time I had to cross an eight lane road!). I was hungry, angry, worried Q and Shu were waiting for me as it was way past dinner time and had a weird marriage proposal on the street. I was glad to make it home!

Another TIAD experience was on my first day, with Q – a problem for one is a problem, for two is an anecdote. When I accompanied Q to pick up a shiny fixed Lexus, the petrol deposit was empty giving a 0 km reserve; when we tried to follow the guy from the shop, he took us to a very busy highway with millions of cars and trucks. We thought we were going to be left dry in the middle of it all so Q pulled to the side and had to walk to the station while I waited by the road (highway) with huge trucks and crazy Abudabhians (sic) crossing the streets. And I had my first mechanics lesson from Q, pouring petrol onto your car with a newspaper funnel whilst dodging the aforementioned speeding trucks.


Now, I also had one of my best life experiences, the desert. I looooooooooooved going on the 4x4 dune bashing, despite being terrified at first, I really enjoyed it and from the front seat I could scream even before the car turned onto a 60 degrees inclination! Arggggh!!!!! It was amazing and fun and exciting and got my adrenaline going! Also standing there, in the middle of a sea of sand gave me an indescribable feeling. Briefly rode a camel (N.B. see photo below), sand surfed – a few second(s) standing only as I rolled down the dune. Sunset and amazing starry night. Arabic food, coffee and dates, delicious again. Smoked shisha and watched (and danced) a bit of belly dancing. What gave me a real taste of the culture difference was the experience of trying a Hijab, full body only showing my eyes. It was really different to see the world from the insider’s point of view. Felt very constrained but also protected in a sort of weird way. I had to cover up again when we went to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Astonishingly pretty architecture, fine decorations and the biggest carpet in the World. It reigns the view from the road and you can appreciate its beauty day and night. At praying time it was busy but silent and tranquil at the same time. I thought that being so huge it would be overwhelmingly grand but it is very delicate and spiritual.

And well, my holidays were coming to an end, but before that we tried to go to Dubai as we encountered another TIAD road issue. Fog – that caused the previously blogged multitudinary crash with 300 cars involved. So, I missed Dubai, this may be a good excuse to come back to visit you my friends!! And I also would like to visit the islands you are working in Shu, the new crazy buildings projected for AD and the turning apartment blocks. I was positively surprised by the city and really thank you both for your hospitality and inviting me to share Philippines and a bit of your new AD life together in a mad sweet new world.

Thank you guys! I miss you both and the Cuban spirit may last!

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