Where do I start?


Lucia in hijab & abaya


all dressed up


photo of poster showing prayers during Ramadan


courtyard for outside prayers, which is as big as the inside

I have written about the Grand Mosque tour a little in emails and on Facebook, but haven’t put it here. This was quite an experience as all the women in the group had to have a scarf over their hair and around their face (hijab) and wear a long cloak (abaya) before we were allowed to enter.  We walked around the enormous place and were amazed at the grandness of it all. Mosaic tiles in beautiful patterns adorn all the walls inside. During Ramadan many thousands come to pray at the Grand Mosque and they accommodate them even out on the sidewalk and in the streets.  It’s hard to tell from the photo of the poster, but it looks pretty amazing. There is a huge outer courtyard area that is tiled with slabs of marble and has a misting system hung above it so when people are praying and it is still 150°F at midnight there is a way to cool them.  Inside the Grand Mosque we had to take off our shoes and were amazed at the ornate decorations! We were able to view an exact replica of the original Quran.  Prayers are recitations in song chant of portions of the Quran. Sometimes they have a speaker and there is a chair and pulpit for that purpose. The chandeliers are all German crystal. There are 4 hanging chandeliers and they each weigh a ton!


one-ton German crystal chandelier

After an interesting and lengthy visit at the Grand Mosque we decided to go to the Heritage Souk. It was a massive maze of tiny little shops selling everything from shoes to fish to toys to produce. It was a fascinating place and we had a delicious lunch in one of the shops.

My birthday was fun in that the students in almost every class sang Happy Birthday to me in both English and Arabic. Then Kelly, Gabe, Daniel, and I went to the Marina Mall. It was a bit smaller than the Avenues, and had a gorgeous view of the marina.


pedestrian walkway over road to Marina Mall


Inside center of mall


view of marina from the mall

Then we went to a favorite Lebanese restaurant for dinner. It was a great day! My birthday twin, Lucia gave me a Romanian birthday blessing that involved pinching my ears and a kiss on the forehead. I found it quite moving.


Lucia, my birthday twin

That weekend was the cruise to Kubbar Island. This island is basically a big sandbar with a cell tower and trash on it. It was mostly for the younger crowd to mingle. There were people from several schools as well as local business people. The water was warm and wonderful. Fish swam around our feet and we had to watch out not to step on sea urchins! I expected to get rather sunburned, but apparently the layer of dust in the atmosphere filters the sun. We grilled out on the beach and then headed back.


Kubbar Island (sandbar really)


The folks from the cruise


sunset on Kubbar Island (don’t mind the trash)


the yacht

Yesterday was a teacher in-service day, so no students. It was rather nice. We got a lot done too. Then last night I went with another couple of people to see live theater. A group, again made up of locals and teachers, sang  songs from various Broadway, West End, and movie musicals.  It was good fun, but a late night.

I’m taking it easy the rest of the weekend. I have felt very run down,  and off again-on again queasy, with head and body aches. It hasn’t been severe enough to really take me down, but I hope to nip it in the bud by taking it easy

August 26, 2013

This was the first day of school with the whole staff present! Lots of people, and it was fun to meet some new folks. I’ve met quite a few from the Portland, OR area and a few from Washington, so the Pacific NW is well represented here. I also met someone here today who is my exact same age. We share birth DAY, MONTH, and YEAR! I’ve never met anyone like that before!! Oh, and I met one of my daughter’s classmates from WWC too! Today I got the keys to my room and met with the “specials” teachers. I didn’t get a chance to see my room, as I then had to attend a “vertical” team meeting with the middle school (MS) and high school (HS) music, art, and drama teachers. On the way to this meeting I began to truly get a picture of what it is I’ve been hired to do: literacy intervention. I’m trying not to let this news deflate my excitement balloon. I’m really more qualified to do this anyway. So, I think they picture me using mostly reader’s theater to help students read more deeply.  I’m trying to rapidly shift my thinking and figure out how to make this fun for both my students and me. I hope to meet with the “support team” tomorrow. I think I will talk with the principal as well.

I also learned that in most international schools there are 2 years of kindergarten (KG). In the US we call the first year pre-K. They call it KG 1 so that companies will pay the tuition fees for their employees. In other words, they will pay for KG, but not for preschool or pre-KG. I will be working with the KG-2 (so 2nd year of kindergarten or 5 year olds) through 5th grade. This was also news as I was under the impression it was 2nd – 5th.  Again, I’m trying to hang on to my optimism.

Meanwhile, my buddy teacher (the MS/HS drama teacher) really did and is doing a fabulous job of looking after me. She had arranged for me to buy last spring a whole lot of household items that most of my first year colleagues are having to purchase new. I got a 32” flat screen TV, DVD player, crock pot, microwave, toaster oven, clothes drier, toaster, electric hot water kettle, iron, ironing board, mops, brooms, wastebaskets, shower rod and curtain, extension cords, 2 sets of sheets, 2 sets of towels, comforter and cover, dishes, plasticware, cookware, and miscellaneous other things.

Earlier this evening, the power kept snapping off in my apartment and another apartment 2 doors down. There are 4 apartments per floor in my building and there are 5 floors. None of the teachers live on the ground floor, so that just leaves 1st -5th .  The singles building and the family building both have 13 floors, plus the ground floor and basement, so the annex, where I live, is a tiny relative just outside the walls.

I’ve also discovered an easy way for me to figure the time difference (rather than counting backwards from whatever time it is). On the east coast add 5 and change the am/pm (you-on the east coast – would subtract 5 and change am/pm), and on the west coast add 2 and change am/pm (you– on the west coast – would subtract 2 and change).

This takes lots of energy

What a whirlwind couple of weeks! I came down with a cold (which for me usually passes quickly) that is still lingering and disturbing my sleep. Friday (15th) my class went on a field trip leaving at 6:00 a.m. We went to Beaufort and were steeped in piratical history..fun! Then it was off to one of the aquariums here in NC. I drove to Wilmington to see my son honored for making straight As this semester! I should have spent the night as the drive back was difficult. On Sat. I helped one of my best friends celebrate her 60th birthday! Woohoo! That meant little was accomplished in terms of preparation on the house that weekend.

I’m feeling even worse this weekend, but I still managed to go through most of the stuff in the attic with another of my best friends. She went home with a carload! I have also started of list of things intended for certain people. A couple of boxes of books are packed to keep. Next I need to cart clothing to the thrift shop, check on storage rental fees, and call the Embassy of Kuwait.

Here’s hoping my cold will be shortly conquered and energy restored!