12.07.2013 - 12.10.2013
I've arrived on Thursday evening and Friday begins the weekend. Friday is the holy day for Muslims. Most stores do not open until after lunch as Muslims spend the morning in prayer. But late afternoon every day is when folks emerge. Even with the advent of air conditioning and Western business hours, the rhythm of the desert bedouin permeates their lifestyle. Traffic increases late afternoon and shopping begins in earnest after 8:00 pm. Malls and shops are open until 10:00 pm weeknights and until 11:00 pm on Thursday and Friday nights.
Chaz and I spend Friday and Saturday catching up on his shopping with visits to the neighborhood grocery store, dry cleaners and the local Home Centre. Chaz has found a grocery store closer than the large hypermarkets where we shopped last year. The produce selection is not quite as fresh but it's nice not to have to fight so much traffic for just a quick trip to shop. Below are pictures from the local co-op Chaz found close by. No matter how small the grocery they always have a huge spice selection. Chaz is holding a cabbage here! What a stunner!
We walk both days - once around local neighborhoods and once in a large cleared dirt area across the street from his apartment compound. Construction is going on there of a private villa which looks as large as Chaz' apartment compound! First a large wall is built - there are walls in this city like you've never seen before. Walls around parks, walls around buildings, walls around private villas, they're everywhere. Then within the wall the buildings are erected. Large concrete structures with large bricks covering the walls. The buildings are a story higher than the walls with sweeping archways and cavernous rooms. We speculate that the Sheikh building the compound wanted a good seat for the air shows held at the Executive Airport which is close by. I'd love to have a peek inside!
Chaz is back to work on Sunday - his hours are 7:00 until 2:30, so he's home by 3:00 each day. He leaves for work at 5:30 a.m. as civilians are not allowed on base until 6:00 am. I sleep late each morning and quickly establish a routine of breakfast, reading, writing, exercise, lunch and usually a bit of crochet. Chaz wants an afghan and when I googled where to buy yarn in Abu Dhabi, McGrudy's was the store featured. This is a book store similar to Borders and they have yarn? Actually they did so I have a few diversions to keep me busy.
Two of the compounds where DynCorp employees live have been bought by local Sheikhs and 26 units are being displaced. Chaz is on a committee to find new housing. One afternoon we look at a high rise with the rest of the committee. It's closer to downtown and parking is practically non-existent. The building and several others close by are under construction as well. It's noisy, hectic and not where Chaz would want to live. However, DynCorp would prefer to put as many units in a building as they are able in order to have more negotiating power on rates. One thing that strikes me is that where Chaz' apartment has a large living and dining room with the kitchen adjoining through a large pass through window over a countertop, the kitchen in these apartments is separated from the rest of the living area with a door that closes. Adjoining the kitchen is a small maid's room with her own bathroom. This is common for Emirati families to have a live-in maid that look after the children and do all of the cooking and cleaning. With the kitchen closed off the maid's goings-on are separate from the family.
We cook each night, easily falling into a routine. Some nights Chaz cooks, some nights I take over the cooking. We're eating more fish and shellfish - hamoor, perch, shrimp. It's enjoyable to cook for more than one - although I often don't cook at home and end up snacking, not very healthy! I hope the habits formed here will carry on once I'm back in Oriental.