Thursday, March 5, 2015

Wild, Wild, West!

I'm in the West! That's the west of the UAE. Visiting my friend Anika in Madinat Zyad. Another friend, Heather, and I made the 2 hour trek for the weekend. Anika and Heather were my life saviors during that looooong 10 month wait to get over here. I would not have made it over here without them!

So Anika was placed in Madinat Zyad and, even though she has been to see me a bunch of times, I have never made it out to see her. Until this weekend! Of course, we would decide to go, during a sand storm!!! Heather's little rental car was darting all over the road! The wind was crazy! And sand was blowing over, under and through the car! Driving on these roads with the wind blowing and the air con on, I'm always freaked out that we are breathing in all that dust!Straight into my lungs! If anyone out there wants to start a side business, make filters for the vents in cars! I'm serious!

We finally made it safe and sound. Just with a bunch of sand in our cracks and crevices! We were greeted at the door by Riley! He came all the way here by himself!  
She lives in a nice complex full of teachers. She is surrounded by a bunch of huge villas, but most of them are empty! That creeps me out, living near empty buildings. I don't believe in ghosts... but everyone knows weird sounds come from empty buildings!! 
Anika's rooftop view

Anika wanted to take us out for drinks at Tilal Liwa Hotel. In the UAE, you can only drink at restaurants attached to hotels. So off we went! But first, we had to stop for gas!  Yes, that is the gas tanker instead of a pump!!

The Tilal Liwa hotel is really nice. It's a resort, in the middle of the desert. It was quite a scary ride out there. With the sand storm tapering off but still blowing. And there were mini sand dunes all over the road. Anika kept crashing through them and screaming. We almost didn't make it through one of them! We got stuck for a bit on one of them!

We finally pulled up to the entrance, and viola, elegance extraordinaire!

There was a big outside area with different places to sit. The pictures don't do it justice but, take my word for it, it was lovely!

The next day, it was still a sand storm! The wind was howling and you could hear the granuals being thrown against the window. Anika and I could have sat inside all snuck and warm, having an "Empire" marathon, but we need breakfast food! So we went off to the store, and I have to say, the store was just about the coolest thing in the entire west! At the entrance you picked up a scanner and then you scanned the prices of all the items you bought. Then at check out, you just handed over the scanner and you were wrung up! Futuristic! 

These are the scanners!
Scanning jelly for our crepes!
Anika, happy shopper!

We just hand over our scanner and, viola! Shopping halas!
Of course, there were camel patties!

After we left the store, Anika said she had to take us to the fish market. I don't really like fish, and, seeing as how it was breakfast, I was wondering why we had to go to the fish market. But, hey, it's her town!

So yes, we pull up to this beautiful building. I couldn't get a picture of it to do it justice. The tile work and the dome were just stunning in the morning light.

 This was the entrance to the fish market! I thought, jeez, is the market this big?!

So, I know you are wondering what is so extraordinary about this fish market that we had to  take a morning trip there, hmm. Well, this fish market is inside. . . the HOSPITAL! Yes, ladies and gents, a fish market inside the hospital! One stop shop! Get your flu shot and a mackerel dinner at the same time!

After a wonderful crepe breakfast (crepes a la Heather!), we went back to the Tilal Liwa hotel for a teacher high tea (which actually was a promotion that had passed, but we still got to see the hotel in daylight!). We had to drive back there thru the continuing sandstorm though! Ughhh. Anika was freaking out a little driving! Over the dunes that were in the middle of the road!

Can you see the sand thru the front windshield?!

It got worse as we continued!

We made it in one piece! Just for them to tell us there was no teacher high tea anymore!! But I did run in and get some day time shots of the beautiful Tilal Liwa.

On the way back, we say some camels going through their paces on the race track! You can barely see them in the right corner, but they are there!

Well, even though my visit was during a huge sandstorm, we still had fun! Thanks for hosting me, Anika! And next time I come out west I'm going to go camping in the desert!!

Ciao for now!