Monday, August 20, 2012

The Beginning of the End

Our Virginia House

The hubby arrives in Virginia tonight, and for me that marks the start of the end of our vacation here in the states. As our time draws to a close here, I find myself having the same conflicted feelings I had before I left Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the summer. There are people, places, and things that I can't wait to get back to in the UAE. Then of course, there are people, places, and things in the US that I dread having to say goodbye to for another 10 months.

In Abu Dhabi, I look forward to catching up with my friends and trading stories about our summer. We've made some wonderful friends since moving there, and I've missed them the past couple of months. I'm also excited about some new friends that have made the leap to living abroad, and I can't wait to show them around when I get back. I'm looking forward to a reunion night with all of our expat friends old and new at Stills, one of our favorite places on Yas Island, when I return.

An upcoming reunion in Abu Dhabi, means that there first has to be yet another farewell here in the United States. We've had to do this a few times, but they don't get any easier. I think it goes without saying that reunions are a lot more fun than goodbyes. I'm dreading the big hugs and inevitable tears that I know come with having to say goodbye to my friends and family. Hopefully, I've put a spark in few more of them to make the trip over to see us in the next year. Mom is already dusting off her passport for a visit this fall.

My husband and I have already discussed hitting a Le Boulanger on the way home from the airport for REAL Lebanese food. It seems while I was gone a new Le Boulanger opened in Khalifa A which is even closer to my house than the other ones. Hummus with meat, saj, mixed grill, lamb chops, and REAL Arabic bread......YUM!
The Corniche

I'm also looking forward to a ride on scenic Route 12 that island hops over Yas and Saadiyat instead of the more direct route downtown. Route 12 has amazing views of the Arabian Gulf and it's untouched smaller islands and beaches. It's the road that makes you forget you're in a busy place like Abu Dhabi. That trip of course will end down at the Corniche, and I can't wait to see what sights it has to offer.

Dubai will be another must for us when we get back too. I think we'll need to drop into a few of the glamorous mega malls there. While the idea of Dubai shopping sounds fun, the idea of having to go into a Lulu's or Carrefour to grocery shop does not. Sorry guys, I'm a spoiled American. I must admit though, I have been a bit overwhelmed by American grocery stores since coming back. I'm not used to having so many choices, except of course for things like rice, fruit, vegetables, cheese, and tea. Tea and rice have just about a whole aisle to themselves in the UAE.
Burj Khalifa at the Dubai Mall

Here in the states I'm going to miss the peaceful serenity of the lake our house sits on and it's ever changing show. The lake is home to numerous waterbirds including mallards, geese, cranes, and the  most awesome creature of them all - the blue heron. We've been fortunate this summer to have a nest of baby blue herons in our backyard. They've provided the morning entertainment as I drink my coffee on my screened in porch. There are 3 of them, and I always get a chuckle when I see them all together. I can't help but think of Bob Marley singing "Three Little Birds".

I do look forward to the pampering I get in the UAE. I've found I'm not a fan of pumping my own gas or bagging my own groceries. Oh, and I most definitely see a spa date in my future. Can't wait to experience the whole extreme customer service, but I'm not looking forward to being called Madame and M'am constantly. For some reason, it just makes me feel old and like the people saying it somehow think that I think I'm better than them or at a higher social level.

So, I guess that leads to one of the things I'll miss about America. I'll miss fitting in, and just being a face in the crowd. I can drive past a bus in America, and not have everyone on it stare at me. I can run to the store in bummy workout clothes with no makeup and not care. I don't have to think about my wardrobe and who it might offend. Or my favorite worry, "How much will I sweat in this?".

The biggest thing I'm looking forward to? MY BED! "Home" for me is where my bed is, and where my family(the 4 of us) lives. Plus, I've got a puppy....and a cat...waiting for me there. Vacations are nice, but I'm looking forward to going home and jumping back into my daily life. It's getting about time to go "home".

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

Me and Granddad

I'm backkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk! Actually, I am back, back in the good ol' US of A. No, not for good, but for a little American vacation. Truth be told, expat vacations to their home countries aren't typical family vacations.

For our family, these summer vacations mean we are separated for months. The kids and I head back to the states after school is out, and my husband doesn't join us till the end of the summer for a couple of weeks. It isn't exactly an ideal way for a family to live, but sticking around for the crazy hot weather isn't fun either. Not to mention, despite living in another country we still have property and things we left behind to attend to in Virginia.

So, what does one do on a crazy long vacation in a place they once called home? Well, I think it goes without saying that FAMILY has been a big focus for me on this trip. I can't get enough hugs from my Mom. I've lucked out, and she has spent most of the summer with me and the kids. We've had a few large family sleepovers with my sister's family, and I've enjoyed every minute, every laugh, every smile, every hug....

I've also spent hours chatting and catching up with my Grandfather. He's always happy to hit the road, so we've made a couple road trips to North Carolina in the past few weeks. No trip to NC with Granddad is complete without stopping for one of mine and his favorites, Carolina barbecue. I try to make it in the UAE, but nothing compares to the real stuff. If only I could figure a way to smuggle some back with me.

As much as I would like for this vacation to be all about fun, it's also been full of work. It seems our last tenants that rented our US home were deadbeats. So after an eviction, I'm left with lots of things to fix and a husband on the other side of the world. I'm finding I can be quite the handy woman. Perhaps my proudest accomplishment thus far, is turning our pool water from a dark greenish brown to crystal clear.

On that note, I have several potential expats ask me advice and questions all the time. Here's a free piece of advice, be VERY careful in selecting renters and if possible don't let them know you're in another country.

Well, that's all for now folks. I promise there will be more to come................