March and Abu Dhabi

In March, the weekend after parent conferences, Gabe, Rebecca, Amy and I decided to go to Abu Dhabi

skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi

skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi

and see the Grand Mosque there.

me in the courtyard with a minaret in the back

me in the courtyard with a minaret in the back

Justin joined us and we also took in Ferrari World to ride the fastest roller coaster! Gabe is quite a Ferrari fan, but they have height restrictions for the rides and Gabe was too tall. I’d never even considered that before. It was such a bummer. Rebecca, Amy, Justin and I went on it anyway and it was really fun.

World's Fastest Roller Coaster!

World’s Fastest Roller Coaster!

me at entrance to Ferrari World

me at entrance to Ferrari World

There were other rides, but we didn’t go on any of them.

The Grand Mosque was really beautiful. It had tiled fountains and pools as well as big gardens.

tiled pool outside Grand Mosque

tiled pool outside Grand Mosque

The inside was rather a contrast for me. It was beautifully carved, but the huge chandeliers seemed almost Christmas kitsch to me. I didn’t feel they went with the rest of things.

one of several Christmas ornament chandeliers (my appellation) at Grand Mosque

one of several Christmas ornament chandeliers (my appellation) at Grand Mosque

Still it was interesting. In the garden area they had these big glass domes, and when I used the restroom I realized they were like skylights over the rooms where the ritual baths (where you wash your feet, hands, and face before entering the mosque to pray if you’re Muslim) were.

inlaid marble designs at Grand Mosque

inlaid marble designs at Grand Mosque

Windows in the wall inside the mosque

Windows in the wall inside the mosque

At the end of March, someone sponsored a salsa dance party in the courtyard of our housing complex. It was a delightful evening, and Vito is an amazing dancer. He made me feel like I knew what I was doing. Such fun!

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