As it turned out, the weekend I arrived was the final race weekend for the Formula One race cars. I'm not a big race car fan, but 24 hours after landing in this marvelous country, I was sitting on a 60 year old yacht (one of three original ships of Sheik Zayad) that looked like it could have been in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, with a private chef on-board creating a marvelous buffet meal for me and the other 25 folks on board, watching the Formula One race cars speed by a short distance away. Wow! The cars were moving so fast, it was difficult to even see what color they were. So, in pretty short order I found myself people-watching - great fun! After the race on Saturday night, Colleen, my wonderful hostess, and I went to a Linkin Park concert, and after the final race on Sunday, we saw Prince in concert - awesome!!!
After all this fun, there were classes to teach! The class attendees were all ex-Pat's from Europe, Australia, India, and the United States. I taught five different classes, with a number of folks taking more than one class.
After each class was over, Colleen would take me sightseeing. We visited the Royal Palace Hotel one evening - the only hotel I've ever been to where we were screened in the parking lot, and went through a metal detector when we entered the hotel. We came around one corner in this over-the-top fabulous hotel and saw a vending machine that vends...no kidding....gold bars!!!!
Since the country is so close to the equator, it is hot all the time. One of the ways locals cool off is to rent floating tricycles with huge tires and pedal around in the water. The gals wear something called a "burkini" (think burka and bikini combined together), which is shorter than the floor length burkas normally worn.
All told, it takes about 20 hours to travel from Abu Dhabi and Portland, between the actual flight times and layovers. I didn't suffer any jet lag going to UAE, but woke up at 4 a.m. for about a week after returning home - I cleaned out my closets and designed a few new quilts!
A huge THANK YOU to Colleen and her husband for being such wonderful hosts and making my first visit to the Middle East so memorable - I sincerely hope our paths cross again in the future.