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Month: February, 2013

28/02/2012 – Day 26

I had the worst burger of my life yesterday at Elevation burger. I spent AED 25 on a cheese burger which turned out to be a dry bun, with an oily patty and one slice of cheese! I then went to McDonald’s where I bought a cheese burger and apple pie for AED 8 (btw the exchange rate between SA rand and Dubai Dirham is 2.2, so AED 1 = R2.2). The girls at McDonald’s know me by now and it was fun to chat for a bit. The one girl who’s always friendly to me told me that she’s leaving, she said she misses her home to much. I also miss my home, but I hope I don’t leave because of homesickness, well I don’t plan on it!

We had a guy here yesterday who came to give us a quotation for the curtains. His name is Ahmed, like the Jeff Dunham character. I couldn’t stop giggling. I wished he would say “I keeeeel you”, but he didn’t he measured the windows and gave us material samples to choose from. I think we might go to Ikea for blinds, haven’t made up my mind yet.

Ikea is a fascinating store, once your inside you have to walk through the entire store to exit. You walk passed bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms. It feels like you’re walking through an exhibition of a lot of fancy peoples homes. Of course in this scenario everything is for sale.

I decided not to enroll for CELTA. It’s a 3month course which I can enroll for at any time, so maybe in April I’ll reconsider it. In the mean time I shall be taking art classes, its something I love and haven’t had a lot of time for, but now I can focus on it more.

Some people here call me Maria, since Mariette is a little difficult for them to pronounce, so last night I phoned for pizza and the girl said “Oh, it’s miss Maria!” first time anybody has ever called me Miss, it was kinda cute.

Checking out a new church tomorrow. Hope its cool, other wise we’ll go straight back to Well of Life!


26/02/2012 – Day 24

Here’s just a tiny recap on my first 3 days in Dubai, if I don’t write them down they will soon be lost in the sea of blurry that is currently washing through my life. So here goes.</p><p>I got on that plane in Bloem alone and a little teary, my friends had just gave me their goodbye hugs and left. I made a friend on the plane, got to Jo’burg in one piece and after a cup of coffee my new friend and I went in search of my boarding gate. It was a short-ish flight, only 10hours, but there was a delay. Just before we where about to take off the captain announced that we where still waiting for some people and that there would be turbulence. Now I’m not one who’s fond of a bumpy flight and so this got me to start praying “please, Lord, please no turbulence…” then about 5minutes later another announcement came though “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a minor technical error, nothing to worry about, but we will be delayed until it is taken care of” this threw my prayers into a new category of “Lord Jesus, help?!” it was probably about an hour before we were taking off. There was turbulence but the miracle was that I slept through all of it, I was never fully asleep, but I dosed off every time things got really shakey (Jippy).


I got a little lost on the Dubai airport. Somebody from a meet and greet service was meant to meet me at the gate where I got off, but because of the delay there was nobody. I asked a stewardess and she directed me to the counter of the company that was going to help me through passport control. The airport is so big that you can’t walk from place to place, so I got on a train and went to baggage claim. Here I found the meet and greet company. I was completely jet lagged and the rest went by quickly. I went through passport check, security scans and baggage claim found a trolley and then went to meet my mum. She had come a week before me…

We got a taxi to the hotel. I vaguely remember the hotel breakfast buffet, which I skipped, but I think had coffee. I met Mum’s colleague who was also staying in the hotel, a man named Fathi. They went to work and I went to bed.

After work Mum brought me to our apartment. There was nothing in it, even though everything had been bought. I stayed home waiting for the delivery guys while Mum went to buy some sheets and duvets. Soon there was a knock on the door and when I opened it an Indian guy just said “IKEA” and I, thankfully, let them in. They put together the sofa and somewhere during this time one of them informed me that the second knock on the door was “your fridge”. The beds only got delivered at 10pm, but at least we had something to sleep on that night! I don’t know how it happened, but I do remember me walking down the street that first night and buying dinner at SubWay.

The next morning made a lot more sense. The jet lag was starting to wear off. Mum gave me some money and told me to spend it wisely on things for the apartment. So that day and the next that followed I was mostly seen as a blur between our home and the SuperMarket. I was dragging home a laundry basket filled with hangers, trash bags, trash can, an iron, a broom, a mop… and then while I’m just trying to get it all home I’d pass some tourists who would be standing and pointing at buildings that I live next too! But that is how our home acquired most of the smaller things in it. After those first 3 days it was easier to live here, since we had most of the bear necessities.

25/02/2013 – Day 23

My CELTA application has no due date! I called today and the guy told me “As soon as possible”. So I guess that’s this weeks task! I’m almost through it now, but then of course I’m gonna edit and change it until it seems decent enough to hand in and secure me a place in that class which only accepts 12 students. I plan on handing in one of the best pre-interview tasks.

The whole of yesterday I had to stay home, the workers fixed the shower floor and Mum’s drain. They came by today to check that its all good. The service in this apartment building is really fantastic, I’ve never lived in an apartment, so I don’t know if its standard procedure, but its great!

I’m still busy with my week of sitting and resting my feet, but I think tonight I might walk to the SuperMarket. Every evening on my way there I walk passed a restaurant where the Muslim men, just men, no women, are sitting with Hubblies. The sweet smell of the Hubblies fill the air and the men sit back and relax, sharing a pipe with each other. Staring is not allowed and can be frowned upon, also pictures, especially of women, are not accepted. The men sit on these woven chairs in their Thobes and Ghutras (Thobe: A long robe worn by Muslim men. The top is usually tailored like a shirt, but it is ankle-length and loose. The thobe is usually white. Ghutra: A square or rectangular head scarf worn by men, along with a rope band (usually black) to fasten it in place. The ghutra (head scarf) is usually white, or checkered red/white or black/white. In some countries, this is called a shemagh or kuffiyeh). The restaurant provides the Hubblies and it is part of the waiter’s job to set it up.

I enjoy my early evening walks, just after sunset. I watch the sunset from my window and then go for a quick walk. This is the time of day when all the working people are heading home and the tourists are filling the street. It’s interesting to be out and to see it all.

I’ve found a cool supermarket, they’re cheap and very close to us. You head down this dodgy looking ally and then in the wall there’s a door, no sign or anything, just a window and a door. Inside works some of the most attractive young men I’ve seen, but they don’t speak English. You can buy almost any food there, just not fresh meat. It’s a tiny place where the term “excuse me” is used almost too often as people try to get by and there’s only place for one person in an isle. You crouch down and reach up to get everything, but I like it there, the prices are reasonable and the quality is decent. The cherry on top is paying at the end to some guy who bears a remarkable resemblence to Antonio Banderas.

24/02/2013 – Day 22

We own 2 laptops and a Blackberry charger that have SA plugs, and thus don’t fit into the wall. Last year with our trip to USA Mum bought an adapter plug for SA to USA. I haven’t found anything in the form of UAE to SA, but you do get tons of USA to UAE adaptors, so we have the UAE to USA adaptor plugged into the wall with the USA to SA adaptor plugged into that and then a SA double plug for the BB charger to go into! In the interest of simplifying this I found a video on Youtube on how to change plug heads, went to the store and bought a new head for cheap. Got home looked at my laptop charger and realised I have no idea how to remove the outside of this plug… It has no screws, so now I will be sending out a new search party to figure out how to remove the screw-less shell from my plug.

Our apartment has 3 bathrooms, the university gave it to us and its a real nice place to live. Only problem is the drains in Mum’s bathroom and the shower in the guest bathroom. The shower doesn’t drain! The drain is in the highest corner of the shower, and the water doesn’t go away, it makes a nice puddle which deepens the longer you shower… Mum’s bathroom has a smell! The water doesn’t seem to leave it seems to be damming up and rotting instead of draining which is pretty gross. Hence today I am sitting in an apartment which maintenance workers in 2 of the bathrooms and hammers clicking all around me. They’re redoing the shower tiles and trying to fix Mum’s drain.

I had planned on filling out my application form today, but the noise is currently a little bothersome. I started reading Boundaries, I haven’t read a book in more than a year. I’ve been plugged into audio books constantly, but actually sitting down and turning the page is something I haven’t been doing for probably 18months.

My window looks out over a big strip of sand, just plain desert sand. We live in a high apartment building, but when you look out you see “normal” homes, where I’m guessing the workers live. Every afternoon the strip of sand fills up with cricket players. It usually starts with one little white car parking almost in the middle of the “field” and then later on other teams also start playing. They play and play exactly until Sunset, when the last strip of the red sun sinks in behind the horison the Mula begins the Call to Pray and the cricket players pack up and leave. Around the sides of this strip of sand there are busses and lorries parked, they’re not locked away with 24h security. They’re parked and left there next to the palm trees.

23/02/2013 – Day 21

Yesterday’s birthday celebrations have been postponed until Spring break.

I’m privileged enough to be in Dubai while R T Kendall is preaching at a church Mum and I know of. Yesterday we heard of a church right next to our apartment building and next Friday I plan to go check them out. All I can say so far is that they have good cookies, since we arrived during coffee hoping to at least grab a welcome pack of pamphlet, that was all that I could discover. I like the church we’ve gone to for the past two weeks, Well of Life. I’ve made contact with a life group leader and hope to befriend the people in the group.

I am currently sitting on a chair, not the sofa, not a stool, but an actual chair! Finally found one for very cheap at the SuperMarket. They sell everything in that place! From food to chairs to sheets to beauty products, I’ve never known a place that looks so subtle and rather small from the outside and when you go in you can find almost anything inside! Well, almost everything, curtains still haven’t been bought and with the rising full moon its becoming more apparent every night, but the sea is extremely beautiful with the moon shining on it.

This week is a sitting week for me. I’ve nearly worn out my feet over the last four months I have not stopped walking and by now the pain is starting to not go away. I hope that a week of sitting on my new chair will result in better feeling feet.

I’m applying for a CELTA course. I’m praying that if its not for me or if the timing now is “wrong” that God will reject my application, but other wise I’m actually pretty excited about the possibilities of this course. I hope to get in at this centre, because the university is located in Knowledge Village which has a nice vibe about it.

21/02/2013 – Day 19

The memories of South Africa are quickly fading and it feels like I’ve been here for months. It’s as if I’m one of Darwin’s finches, adapting daily to my new habitat.

I went with my mum to Zayed University, where she works. It’s a university only for Emirate girls. 2years ago the university started accepting men, but the men and woman are kept apart! Most of these girls, almost all of them, are Muslim, so they are all wearing black Abayas (those dresses that the Muslim woman wear). Seeing them from afar they all look the same, dark olive skin, brown hair and eyes and black clothing. Then you look closer and every Abaya looks different. Some are lace, some are velvet, some are kind of see through and then underneath they’ll wear some tights or skinny jeans. The girls greet each other by putting their cheeks agains each other and kissing the air 3 times – mwah, mwah, mwah. I saw some girls with Henna hands. It looks really pretty the different patterns painted on the hand and up the forarm, for some reason some girls dip their finger tips in Henna. So their finger tips are all dark and tinted, which to me doesn’t look very nice, but seems to be part of the culture.

The men greet each other by putting their noses against each other and sometimes also kissing the air. This is only done by men who are family or close friends.

The people in this country don’t show a lot of skin, it’s rude and disrespectful for shoulders and knees to show, some people even find it rude if your elbows show. In the malls at the entrence there are signs saying “dress respectfully – please cover shoulders and knees”.

At Zayed university on sign infront on the ladies bathroom the little pic of the girl is wearing a floor length dress!

I haven’t made friends yet, but I’m accuainted with one of the waitresses at McDonnald’s. She speaks a very broken english, so our conversations are limited, but she always smiles and waves when she sees me. We always greet each other, but we struggle talking after that…

I found some great info about a course that I really want to do at a university in Knowledge Village. I like the idea of studying there, because it throws me in with a lot of students…

20/02/2013 – Day 18

So yesterday I think I struck some gold. I walked to the Canadian University, met a guy who’s an engenering major. My tongue got completely tied at the information desk and I finally got out the word “Business” and then “I’d like some info on business courses”, but the lady who helped me was very friendly.

I walked to the metro and got on a train, got off at what I thought was right station, but had to take a taxi to go to Media City. I asked the taxi driver if I could walk and he said “No, you cannot walk, is to far” I wondered if he was trying to make money or telling the truth, but when he dropped me I realized it was way too far to walk but the driver told me that I have to get off at Nakheel Metro station next time and sure enough that was right next to the campus. The vibe at the USA University felt very nice, peaceful and pretty.

After this I got on a bus, first I went back to the metro, talked to information and made 100% sure that I got the right buss… The bus ride took me to Knowledge Village where I found an Australian University, the British university and Cambridge College along with Eton College.

I got books, pamphlets, applications, newsletters and a ton of other stuff from the universities. Now I just have to peruse them and pick the best course for me. Currently I think I’ll either go to the American or British university, but I’m keeping an open mind.

18/02/2013 – Day 16. What to Do?

The passed two days have been extremely quiet. I’ve cleaned the apartment which was a first. I’ve cleaned, but never did a whole home in  one day.

I’m thinking of enrolling for a short course in teaching TESOL. Found a lot of great info about it. It would be something to do to keep from being bored and then also create some great opportunities. I’m not use to having this much open time on my hands, I need something to do.

The Dubai Mall won’t see me again for a long time. It’s a tourist attraction, so the prices are damn high. R450 for a hoodie that says Dubai… It’s built to impress and maybe almost overpower other malls. It’s cool if you’re a tourist, but if you want to buy stuff for living here its craze. There’s a water and light show that I’ll definitely go see and someday I’ll visit the aquarium. Other than touristy things I’m done there.

The Call to Prayer at 05:30 wakes me up, so if you can’t beat them, join them! Thus I am now gyming at 06:00am.

Tomorrow I’m hitting the universities.

16/02/2013 – Day 14 – Big Bus Tour –

The university gave my mum a bus ticket for a tour of the city as part of her welcome packet. Today we bought me a ticket and went to explore old Dubai.

We started at the home of the first Sheikh. Sheikh Saeed was the grandfather of Sheikh Zayed who was the first Sheikh to start a university for girls. The architecture, all the different shades of brown from the earth, the way the home was build, all this gave an insight into Arabian culture. What I remember most are the iron doors and wooden windows, built into, what I’m guessing is, mud made walls.

There is a bus every 20min, we got on the next bus and went to see the souks. A souk is an Arab market or marketplace… Dubai has a world famous Gold Souk which seems entirely insane to me. Everything they sell there is genuine! Pure gold and real diamonds. Not just one shop but it carries on for a blocks almost a few kilometers of jewellery stores, handcrafted jewelry.

The whole day consists of sales men trying to get me interested in their products and me just trying to look and get by. Here you don’t go to look, you go to buy.

Haggling is expected, you never pay the price on the tag, even in a jewellery store with diamont earings you have to try and get the price down. This is a skill I’ll perfect when I have money to haggle with!

Down a little ally we found a vegeterian restaurant where we each had 2 samosas. Now I don’t know what a true samosa should be, but in my mind they are bought at Woolworths and filled with beef or chicken. Today I tasted one with potato, beans, lentils and a lot of spice, it was served with some or other sweet sauce that had its own tang of spiciness.

On our way back to the souks we passed a little stand where they where selling shawles. I bought a green one for AED 40 after the owner had told me AED 55 so atleast I haggled him down with 15 Dirhams, though I have no idea if that a little or a lot, but I like my shawl, it’s pretty.

Here the day got a little craze, we went into the “true souks”. The gold souk has become more of a tourist atraction, its more organised… We walked through old town Dubai, the little streets and “normal” shops that weren’t built for tourists. Before I knew exactly where I was there were material stores all around me and shawl stands and pillow covers and scarves and oh material in every form, but mostly shawls and scarves. We were in the Textile Souk. With every step somebody tries to show you their scarves and shawls they wanna drape them over you. I kept saying I’m not interested but that didn’t help one bit. I wanted to brows and maybe when I found something I liked I’d buy it, but browsing is an almost unknown consept. It was a sea of colour and noise and indian sales men, of the most beautiful material I’ve ever seen, but couldn’t look at for more then a few seconds before it was being sold to me… The finest silk and softest cashmere wool made into scarves for not to expensive. I’ll go back there very soon.

We almost missed the next bus, but the driver stopped and we ran to get on. Next stop: Spice souk. Every spice you’ve ever heard about and those you didn’t know existed sold in scoops and buckets. Standing next to and infront of the shops in barrels and huge bags. The aroma fills the whole air and makes you want to buy the spices and cook them into a wonderful meal. I saw camel leather shoes today, I think they might be a nice to have someday.

We got into a taxi and came home. This concluded the day. Since we live in Dubai we could skip the rest of the stuff, a cruise on the  creek and the Old Souks. We of I shall visit them another day.

I want to go back to the Textile Souk and buy a couple of shawls, just have to find the cheap, non-touristy places…


15/02/2013 – Day 13

Things around me are starting to make more sense. I no longer walk into the SuperMarket with no idea of where I should go and finding everything by mere luck. I walked in today and at least had some notion of which direction might lead me to the coffee. Quite essential…

The new church seems nice, but I think I’m going to check out a few other places before I settle down. I think I’ll have a church picked in about 3months. Today was good, give me 5minutes and I know almost everybody. Apparently there’s a christian church center at Jebel Ali Free Zone, but that is quite far to drive with a taxi.

Presstick and flavored sparkling water is no where to be found. These are essentials according to me but it seems that the people around me live without them. How tragic.

Our home is still in need of curtains, a dining room table and a dozen other little things. These are all things that life seems to be able to go on without. We’re pretty much living on the bare necessities and I don’t feel any lack.

After church and back at the apartment I sat and watched the Muslim men walk home from the Mosque. The view from our apartment is pretty exotic, not my idea of exotic, but the true meaning of the word. To me exotic is a marketing word found on “Win a Romantic Holiday” posters that always feature a pink drink and a girl with a big hat. But as I look out over the city, the old houses, the cricket players, the Muslim people filling the streets, the yellow school buses and white taxis I realise that this is what exotic truly is.