Dubai and 5K

So I scrambled home from school on Thursday, 12 December to finish packing for a weekend in Dubai. Rebecca, Kelly and I got a cab to the airport and were on our way. We visited the Duty Free upon arrival and then headed for our hotel. It was a lovely place and quite comfortable.


Our room


Door to our room with cozy parlor type area just outside.

We awoke early the next morning and tried to find coffee. None of the coffee shops opened until 9:00am??? We grabbed a taxi to the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall. We had some breakfast and then headed for the Burj and our 10:30 tour. This building is a little more than 2,700 ft. tall, and we went up to nearly 1,500 ft on the 124th floor. It only took about 3 minutes to get there by elevator. We looked down on the rooftops of 30-40 story buildings that looked miniscule. Even though it wasn’t a super clear day we could see vast distances.


Burj Khalifa


view straight down


the gap between the windows by my head is open to the outside


shadow cast over the surrounding neighborhoods


You can see forever!

After we descended from the skies, we climbed aboard a “hop-on-hop-off” double decker tour bus. We went all over Dubai and did some hopping off and on. We also managed to pick up our race packets and bought tutus.


huge aquarium in the Dubai Mall


Pyramid marks a mall with Egyptian theme


beautiful green areas here in Dubai


open towers on bops of buildings help to cool the lower floors


Burj Al Arab



It was beginning to darken as we returned to the hotel. Kelly had some school work to do, so we took it to a bar and got some dinner and a beer to work over. It was relaxing and a nice end to the day. We needed to get our rest for the 5K in the morning.

Both of us awoke early and got packed up. We took our luggage down to the lobby dressed in our race uniforms (Color Run t-shirt and tutu) to check out and arrange for our luggage to be stored. Then into the taxi to head for Motor City and the Autodrome where the Color Run was held. We got there early enough to be right at the front of the pack at the starting line. I was shortly left in the dust as I walked.


color cloud at the finish


at the finish

at the finish


starting line…8,500 runners

At the end, which was a gigantic party, I discovered I had lost my wallet. It had all my cash, credit cards, bank card, and civil ID in it. That means instead of partying we spent the next 2 hours pacing around looking for my wallet. We asked everyone we could and left contact info with the race organizers. Finally deciding we couldn’t look anymore, we headed back to the hotel to try to get cleaned up as best we could and changed in the public restrooms in the lobby. Then headed to the airport not knowing what else we could do. While there I received an email saying they had found my wallet!! To make a long story short, a friend is going to Dubai over New Year’s and will collect my wallet for me so I will have it upon my return in the New Year.

A weekend in the desert and then some

So the week referred to before turned out to be a 2 day week…Sun. and Mon. only. Monday we had a horrendous rainstorm (the worst in 15+ years) that brought water into my apartment on the 4th floor–through the windows), Tuesday was declared off due to the Afro-Arab summit that was in town. Wed was off for students (I think this was still due to the Afro-Arab summit) and we had parent/teacher conferences that afternoon. Thursday was parent/teacher conferences all day.

Then on Sunday, November 24 (Happy Birthday Parker!!) I left school early to begin the saga of closing on my house. I took a taxi to the US Embassy where they charged me (robbed me) $50/seal for notarizing 3 documents (I was under the illusion that the Embassy was here FOR its citizens. Silly me.). Then back in the taxi to find DHL, where I paid about $100 to overnight the papers to the closing attorney (supposed to close on the 26th). DHL was late getting the papers delivered, so closing happened on the 27th, but of course that being Thanksgiving weekend, the banks were closed and the payoff didn’t happen until Tuesday, Dec. 3. In spite of all this, and a continuing dispute with DHL over payment, my house is sold and I am officially without a home in the US. Very mixed feelings on that one.

Yesterday (11/29) was going to be an adventure to Failaka Island by ferry, but there was no return trip until the next day and we were not prepared for an overnight.


too full ferry for Failaka

So we went out for breakfast and decided to drive to the Saudi border.


after breakfast with Annemarie and Gabe


Saudi border

We toured around the Wafra farm district, which was amazingly green and rather amazing in the middle of a desert. Just compare the Saudi border picture with the green one. These are in the exact same area. It is clear that water can cause growth even in the desert.


green!! of Wafra area

We also drove around the Khiran resort area.


Khiran Resort entrance


some of the chalets

Many of the rich families in the city have “chalets” out in the desert. The resort is quite posh and around it is springing up fast with many large homes on dozens of human-made inlets. Then we went to one of the desert camps,


desert camp

which is a group of tents—BIG tents, fenced and very comfortable (not camping). The bedroom tents had king size beds in them,


This is camping??!

the diwaniya (living room) tent had couches all around the outside edge with about a 42” TV and music.



The fencing around the outside had lights on each post, and there were spotlights on stands all fed by a generator.  Potties flushed into deep holes dug behind them.


camping bathroom

These camps are set up as the weather cools and left up until it gets really cold (I think, though they might leave them up until it starts to get hot instead).  The guy who owned the camp we went to rents it out every weekend, often to groups, and he had a couple of small 4-wheelers. It was fun to buzz around on them.  Then we headed home tired from all the driving.

The next day (11/30) we were going to the camel races in the afternoon. We stopped by school first and then headed back out into the desert. We passed many a camel farm (I guess that’s what they were–anyway LOTS of camels).




This fellow was scratching himself against the wire. 🙂

When we got to the racetrack it was deserted. So we began to drive around the track (it is enormously long) and saw a couple men working. One of our group speaks fluent Arabic, so she asked about the camels and was told they raced last weekend and would next weekend and who knows, maybe they’re in Qatar. We laughed and continued to explore the racetrack.


As near as we could figure this is the starting gate and the finish line.

Then we headed back into town and stopped to look at the construction of the world’s largest (self proclaimed) university campus. It is absolutely gigantic – like a small city!


Kuwait University new campus construction

As we came back into town, we stopped at the Al-Sawaber Complex, an experimental housing unit that was botched and is now a prime example of urban decay.


Al Sawaber housing complex


The city at sunset

Then we went to my favorite restaurant in Kuwait. It is Ethiopian and the food and the people are wonderful!


blurry, but this is the Ethiopian restaurant that I love!

Whew, busy weekend.

Not sure if it was all the activity of last weekend that made this week seem so long. The kids were really squirrelly toward the end of the week, and the last class kept me awake last night thinking about what to do. I think I’ve figured out a plan and I’m thankful for this low-key weekend to catch up.

A visit to the Red Fort

23 November 2013

Got up early and took a taxi to the AWARE center in order to get the bus to the Red Fort.


The AWARE Center

We spent the morning going into rooms set up as museum rooms at this fort. We went up narrow stairs with no railings to get to the roof tops and learned a bit more history of Kuwait. This fort was to guard against invasions from the desert. Other forts were to guard against invasion from the sea.


obligatory cannon shot in memory of Don Mitchell


sword dance


one of several courtyards at the Red Fort


rooftop of Red Fort


Andri, Lucia, Jola at Red Fort gate

16 November weekend!

It has been a good weekend, in spite of Kelly and Gabe being away. Kelly is here on a visitor’s visa and is required to leave the country for a 24 hour period once every 3 months, so she and 3 others went to Bahrain. I would love to have joined them, but it just wasn’t in the budget at this time.

I went shopping on Friday morning and picked up a couple of tops. It’s nice to get something new. I also got groceries and spent some nice time with my buddy teacher, Connie. She is the one who arranged for me to buy all the “necessities” before I even arrived here in Kuwait, then stored them for me until I arrived. She has a car and so we spent until about 1:30 getting all those errands done. We saw sheep being herded on one of the roadways, which was a new experience.


a herd of sheep

At 3:45 another friend picked me up and we went to the AWARE Center to ride the bus to the Dickson House. After WWI, Kuwait was a British protectorate and was not an independent country until 1961. In the early 1900s there were British government counselors (like an ambassador) living here. The Dicksons lived here a long time and the house they lived in is now a museum. So we went through the house with information and insights given by one of their servants who still lives there. They served us tea on the veranda and then we headed back to the AWARE Center.


living room in the Dickson House


dining room at the Dickson House


view of another direction from the Dickson House


moon and view from the Dickson House

On Saturday, a friend who was feeling pretty down came over and showed me pictures of her family and talked about her home. We spent the whole morning together, and I think she felt a little better by the time she went home.

This next week at school we have a ½ day with students on Wednesday and no students on Thursday so we can have parent conferences. Report cards went home this last Thursday and I’ll be eager to see how many (or few) want to talk with me. It seems like there are many opportunities to take in cultural events this week, so I’m glad that pace will be slower (hopefully) with that day and a half off from students.