I’ve never been an outdoorsy person. I love comfy beds and overstuffed chairs. I like strong drinks with ice clinking in the glass and proper ceramic plates and restaurants that bring tasty fried salty things. I like afternoon naps, lounging in my undergarments and spending too much time on Facebook.
I’ve spent a remarkable number of my Abu Dhabi months cultivating and nurturing this inner sloth. She has been well-fed and amply cocktailed in the company of my four walls and a very forgiving pair of yoga pants. Then, I went home for Christmas this year and while packing, tried on a pair of jeans that . . . used to fit. And those jeans? They laughed at me.
I’ve got this friend who runs an outdoor adventure group called the UAE Trekkers. She’s been trying to pry my ass out of the house for a camping trip since I moved here 18 months ago, and a miraculous thing happened: I was both Really Tired of My Apartment and Ready For a Challenge at the same time. I’ll spare you the “how that happened” details: Short version = gnashing of teeth, dramatic journaling, etc.
So I went on a weekend hike/trek/campout in Oman last weekend. Here are some photos:
It was pretty fabulous. I jumped from rocks and scrambled over boulders and walked a lot in a 5mil wetsuit. Here’s what I learned:
- There is absolutely nothing sexy about peeing in the sand behind a bush. Backsplash on the jeans? Gross.
- Campfires are magical tongue looseners.
- As an American, I have very definite ideas about how a marshmallow should be roasted on a stick. Empirical data gathered by my new friend from Pakistan has demonstrated that his (incorrect) roasting technique offers a marshmallow experience with no appreciable difference. Plus: I’m a control freak.
- Thank god he had a sense of humor at, because otherwise I’d have been hiding in my popup tent crying hot tears of shame, as if I’d been showered with superfluous pepper spray.
- There are a LOT of stars out there, you guys!
I’m feeling inspired to take more trips AND dig deeper into the Arabian Nights stories to discover more about the magic of the desert and mountains in the area.
Going outside: It’s fun! Who knew?
This weekend marks my one year anniversary of Abu Dhabi life! It went by far too quickly and my writing discipline definitely didn’t win out during my culture shock adjustment period. Goals: re-examined. New bars set. Why am I here if not to tell the story?
Here are a few things I learned this past year:
• I’ve gone through an entire full sized tube of toothpaste – one that I bought new the week I moved in to my apartment.
• Local cucumbers are amazing and I don’t know if I can ever live without them again..
• I wake up at the same Oh My God Thirty hour every day, even when I don’t have to go to work.
A catch up list.
* My trip to Jordan was remarkable. Petra is definitely a thing you need to see if you’re anywhere in the Middle East. Vast. Mountain city. With lots of Bedouins hanging out and trying to sell you stuff. I’m working on an essay about it. I don’t even know where to start blogging about it, so here is a photo of me on a horse. There are a few more pix on my tumblr blog. I post a decent number of photos there – and it’s easier to post pix and reblog – which means I’m turning into a lazy blogger, I guess.
I love you, Minnesota, but I have to admit that not wearing socks during the month of January is pretty spectacular.
Plus: No SAD. This is the first winter in at least 13 years that I haven’t had a terrible case of the winter blues, feeling like the month of January was something to survive instead of enjoy.
The days pass by so quickly for me here. I can’t believe it’s already freezing back in Minnesota and that Christmas preparations are in full swing all across the US. All the sparkly lights around Abu Dhabi are for the upcoming National Day holiday this weekend, and it’s pretty rare to see a Christmas tree. Can’t say I’m missing the carols every time I walk into a store.
I feel really disjointed and out of focus right now. I’m struggling to find my old self-discipline and any sort of comfortable routine. All of my previously well-honed planning skills are useless in the new city dynamics, as is any sense of accomplishment for completing small tasks. I get tired more easily than I used to.
So here is a list of moments from the last couple of weeks:
- My face has been compared to both a flower and the moon. Charming.
- I have learned how to get out of the way of incredibly fast moving vehicles on my crowded highway commute.
- I helped an 8 year old with her grammar homework. According to her mother, this made me a hero.
- I celebrated Thanksgiving on a Saturday with my favorite American expats. I ate an entirely irresponsible amount of food.
- I cooked green beans that were as long as my forearm. I brought them to Thanksgiving. We forgot to eat them.
- It’s never quiet here in Abu Dhabi – there’s always stuff going on, traffic noises, fighting cats, and the ubiquitous horn honking. Yesterday morning at about 3:00 am, the Glorious Cat Leader of the Parking Lot Revolution smacked down at least three neighbors.
- I intend to learn how to cook a duck. Suggestions welcome.
Don’t have much else to share, and will hopefully start more sentences with something other than “I” in my next post. Enjoy the Billy Collins TED talk – some really great visuals to go with his poetry. My favorite poem is the one he reads at the very end of the talk: letter to a 17 year old girl.