Experience of a Lifetime

Whirlwind, unexpected, indescribable, incredible are just a few of the words to explain 2009. This time last year, we would not have imagined being in the UAE among such incredible people, experiencing new things literally every day. Just this evening one of our dinner companions was talking about “when they lived in Shanghai” while another discussed “living in Thailand” as if everyone lives and works all around the world. We felt like such rubes because this is the first time we have lived outside of the US.

To say that breaking out of our box was hard would be an understatement. It was more like a cataclysmic event. While preparing for the move, it appeared that my blood pressure medicine had stopped working. Pressure was up and down and the doc kept adjusting my meds until she realized that it was related to the move. After the move, it normalized. I thought I had everything under control, but my body knew better.

 Arriving in the UAE in the midst of 115 degree (46 celsius) weather (at night) was the first of many “what have I done” moments. In fact, during the first month and into the second, my constant silent refrain was “what was I thinking”. After four months, my new word is awesome. Every day is an awesome experience. At night, I stand on the balcony watching Indian guys playing cricket and every morning I am awakened by the azan or “call to prayer”. Depending on weather conditions, we either get to experience a 180 degree view of the mountains or they may be completely covered in haze or something in between. Another one of those awesome and unpredictable experiences.

 Last month, we traveled to Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and next month we go to Singapore, Thailand and Maylasia. This is not even a dream come true, because it is so far fetched, that I never even dreamed it. Bottomline…. We are not experiencing life… we are living an experience. We will do all that we can do while we are here and able. Who knows what next year will bring. Til the next time and the next place.

Clay and Aleta

Awesome Every Day Experiences

 At first, I wrote frequently, but now it is taking more effort. Not because I don’t have anything to say, but life is constantly filling with awesome stuff!! In fact, I am overflowing with stories. I could write about my first thanksgiving away from my children and grandchildren, when we invited 21 of our new friends over for dinner which kept me from missing my kids.

I could write about the experience of feeling kinship with people who are “frequently out of the box.” For the first time in our lives, my husband and I are surrounded by people like ourselves, and we keep meeting more of them.

One of the many interesting things in my new life is traveling to foreign countries. Now you may think ‘whats the big deal’ … people travel to foreign countries all the time, but the expats here take travel to another level.  Prior to a school break, the faculty lounge is buzzing with talk of vacation plans to Singapore, Sri Lanka, Mumbai, Kenya, Zambia, and many, many more places. It is amazing how people use this gig in the UAE as a launching place for travel. In fact, that is frequently one of the reasons why people say they are here.

When planning our trip to Egypt, we had lots of resources in the faculty because so many of them had “been there, done that”. When we came back, I wanted to talk about shopping in the Cairo Souk , but yet again, they had “been there, done that”. I wanted to share the experience of traveling down the Nile passing by ruins and temples along the shore or passing picture postcard fields of .

One friend said she can see a book coming from all this, but that would take time away from the experience. In fact, just last week while riding a horsedrawn carriage in Luxor Egypt, I was so caught up in the experience that I wanted to stop and write about it, but that would have diminished the experience. So I will continue living this surreal life and occasionally I will stop and attempt to describe the indescribable.