Saturday, September 13, 2014

Border Run!!

Hello all!

Me and the kid have been here almost 30 days, (can you believe it?!) and her tourist visa is almost up so it was time for a border run!

For people with families or children in the UAE, the teaching parent has to sponsor them for them to be able to  obtain a resident visa.  That can't happen until the teacher has all of their documents in order which could take anywhere from 3 weeks (some lucky people!) to 2 months.  In the mean time, their family is here courtesy of a tourist visa which has to be renewed every 30 days.  How do they renew this you ask? By leaving the country and returning! Of course, us teachers do not have our passports in our possession so we can't go with our little (and not so little!) ones. Their are several great people here who are willing to help out those in need and do the border run with our families, which is such a complete lifesaver!  We had some interesting times during our border run yesterday and of course my first thought was, I have got to blog about this!
See how happy we were? In the beginning!

The kid and I live in Abu Dhabi and the border runs are usually done from Al Ain, which is an hour and half drive (in a car) from us.  So we had to make our way to Al Ain via the friendly neighborhood bus!  Which turns an hour and a half ride into a two hour and 25 minute ride! A friend and her daughter went with us to keep us company!  We started out at 7:40am, on our day off mind you! No sleeping in for us! And the kid had the nerve to ask me if she had to go! Ummm, darling, you're the reason I have to go!

I wanted to be sure and get some good shots while on the road!  You can't tell by these pictures, but it was a really beautiful drive.  Lots of buildings with triangular shaped windows and decorative walls. And the sand dunes looked like something out of a Lawrence of Arabia film!

So, would my foot sink up to my knee if I stepped there?

 We met the person taking us on the border run at a hotel in Al Ain. Well, actually, when we got to the hotel, there were lots of anxious parents in the lobby, but no driver!  He had 2 border runs that day, one at 10am and one at 11:30am and they weren't back yet.  There were lots of little kids running around, lots of crumbs being dropped, and lots of noise!  That is definitely one thing about here, in USA, we would have been thrown out of the Hilton lobby in a hot second, in UAE, employees just looked at us with smiles and quietly removed all of our garbage!

We waited for a few hours, I guess there was a problem with someones passport, but they finally returned at about 1pm.  So now it was our turn!  There were a lot of parents of little kids who could not go with them due to not having our passports.  My kid was the oldest one and I volunteered her (with her approval of course!) to watch out for their little ones.  She was in charge of four kiddos, two boys & two girls, all under the age of 6!  She had their passports and their money and she was set! Looking a little harassed but I knew she could handle it!

I knew the group would be gone for several hours and I did not want to spend all that time in the hotel lobby; after being there for 2 hours already! Plus, I was starving and could not afford a 20dirham slice of cake! So we decided to go to the Al Ain mega mart down the street.....and thus, our greatest misadventure of the day begins!

We were fine getting there, took a taxi from the hotel and found the mega mart immediately.  I was thinking it was kind of like a mall, but turned out to be similar to a dollar store, but things didn't cost a dollar! We left the store and asked the clerk where to take a taxi and she said none came to the parking lot, go out to the street.  

Granted, it was truly not that far to the hotel, however boys and girls, you have to remember that it is over 100 degrees out here.  AND in the middle of the day!  The minute you step away from the air conditioned interior of any place, it is like you have opened the boiler room furnace in some 1950's era basement.  I can literally feel, all the moisture being sucked out of my skin like a vacuum!  Even my eyeballs dry out! And the minute you take your first breath of that air, it is like the witches fire pit from Hansel and Gretel has been poured down your esophagus!  And the second breath is even worse cus the fire boils down to yo belly!  In short, this is not a place where a girl from balmy San Francisco wants to go for a walk!

Sigh, the things I am forced to do! Not only did we have to walk out to the un-shaded sidewalk, but we had to cross the street because, of course, the hotel was in the other direction!  

Do you see that looooong expanse of never ending street beside us?? With not a car in sight?!? Exactly how, are we supposed to find a taxi on an empty road like that?!! We're not! Is the short answer! But at this point, we were still optimistic!

Look at the beautiful blue sky, and the beautiful expanse of tree lined road.  You wouldn't think that this road led the way to H.E. double hockey sticks, would you?!  But it did!!!

Do you see that HUGE expanse of un-shaded road? And that little bit of shade? That's all we could find for the entire half a mile we had to walk! And remember, it's about 107 degrees here!  We were forced to walk in the dirt to try to avoid the blazing sun! My face was literally burning off! I was sweating worse than a stuck pig and I had to slog thru the dry, desert dirt in hopes of finding a small square of shade! And this went on for-everrrrr! No taxi in sight! Once, we saw a bus! And we ran to that bus like it was the last bastion of a civilized world (which it was to us, with aircon!) And, as we stood at the stairs, feeling the cool waft of aircon on our hot and sweaty faces, the driver, that damn bus driver, had the nerve, to tell us, he didn't go to the Hilton!! Aiiiieeeeee! I almost wailed like a baby and pounded my fist to my weeping breast, as the glass doors shut before me!  Sigh...we had to continue slogging away....

 ...down the continually un-shaded street!  Finally, I thought, how much more am I expected to take?! I'm burnt, sweat is pouring off of places on my body that should not sweat, my eyeliner has run down to my chin.... Then, in the near distance, I see a car, pulled over to the curb for whatever reason. Finally, my salvation! To the utter mortification of my companions, I ran up to the car and knocked on the window.  Yes! I did too! And as the confused face of the driver stared at me, I asked, no begged, the Emirati owner to please, please, please, take us to the Hilton!  And he said Hilton, and pointed down the street.  And I said, yes, yes!! And you know what, he drove us!!  I told him he was a life saver.  I pointed to my sweaty face and said, oh, I dying, dying! I don't know how much he understood, but he laughed.  And finally, low and behold, the Hilton came into view!! It was like a hint of the sun peeking through boiling black clouds during a rainstorm!

The kid had a pretty exciting adventure too, trying to corral 4 rambunctious kids who had to wait in a contained space for several hours! She returned panting and thanking God to see me as well!

Oh! You know what? There was one good thing that happened on our horrendous return from the mega mart! All these palm trees that line every road of Abu Dhabi that I thought were just the same old palm trees we have in Cali? They are date palms! Dates grow on palm trees! Who knew? Not me obviously! But now I know!

Those are dates on the ground!
I guess they are picked when yellow and then dried.

Oh! I almost forgot! Then, for the piece de resistance...on the 2 and 1/2 hour bus ride back to Abu Dhabi, there was this gentleman ....

who decided to sit with his arms akimbo, so that the cool filtered breeze of the aircon, could glide gently under his arms, bringing the lovely all day scent of his extremely pungent B.O wafting caressingly to our noses!

Ahhh, what a lovely way to end the day! lol

Ciao for now!

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