Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Float on...

So, we are about finished here with day 4 of the full staff orientation week at RAKESS. This week has consisted of a little bit of "getting to know you," a medium sized portion of meetings, lots and lots of work on my classroom...although, actually, I'm not going to be teaching - like, my own stuff - until after our Eid holiday, the end of September or so (shorter school day = priotizing time)...and, of course, our outdoor, team-building, adventure day.

Yes, that's right - I said outdoor. Have you heard me bitch about the heat around here? Or the humidity? Or the SUN???? Well, maybe you haven't, but this blog is young. In short - I'm in the middle east. I think we qualify for the "World's Nastiest Summer" award. And that is why we left Sunrise at 4:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

Because the primary is so big they split us into two groups before sending us to our doom...er, I mean, to our very fun adventure day! Half started by kayaking around the inlet from the ocean in central RAK, the other half began by rock-climbing or biking up in the mountains. My group was the envied group because we got to do the climbing and biking in what passes for the cooler part of the morning...but because I'm contrary and a little scared of sunlight, I was wishing I could have got the kayaking over with before the UV got too bad. Oh well, life goes on, right?
Now, because my family has mountain goats in its Swiss ancestry, I was all about the climbing. My brother and at least a couple of cousins are into that shit. Actually, I think Shaggy ought to check out Al Shaheen, the group that led us, because I think he'd have a lot of fun with it. I think Diana and Katie ought to check them out too, because a large percentage of them are single and speak with lush Scottish accents. Anyways, so I was excited about my turn, and I scrambled up the wall until my arms got wobbly, then walked back down the cliff. Soon enough the bikers that started at the other end of the wadi made it to us, and my group went down and took our turn on the bikes. I had probably been on a bike more recently than any of my colleagues, but I was really impressed with how well everyone did. I also think I know what happened to my gear-shift. It wasn't a particularly hard ride, 3km on mostly level ground but the trail we were on was loose stones and we did sink into them and the sand every now and again. By the time we got to the vans, I was ready to knock back about a liter of water and never leave an air-conditioned space again.
But, of course, we weren't done yet.

We got to the area where we put in our kayaks, and changed into our "bathing costumes" (man, I love British words). Then we spent quite a while in the heat and sun, and I started worrying about my skin. So I went to put on more sunscreen...I'd already been doing this in the van while we were coming in from the mountains, since we were under the aircon...only to realize I had no idea where my sunscreen was. It was not in my bag. It was not on the ground, or in the room where I'd changed. I ended up borrowing someone else's to reapply, and then we spent another half hour getting geared up and playing games and I REALLY started to worry. I have what I like to call a vampyric complexion, and have been known to get badly burned when constantly reapplying SPF 45 sunscreen...and I was going to be out on the water where the light was going to be coming at me from the bottom as well as the top? Aish. I almost chickened out. Then our Head of Lower Primary came by, and told me, "Oh c'mon. At least try it." Except she said it in her British accent, and with her imposing, McGonagall-ish demeanor, I felt that there was no way that I could stay on shore. I was going out on the water whether I liked it or not, because I'd rather eat glass than lose face with her.

And I took one of the Indian ladies who couldn't swim with me at first. We got a little ways from shore, and she freaked (with, as I'm sure Babysis could testify, good reason, although she didn't know that at the time). So I came back and got paired up with a Canadian. We started out, but then we came back to shore, where the Al Shaheen boys were trying to figure out what to do with our odd number...so being sort-of experienced, thanks to the many float trips Dad took us on in our little green canoe, I volunteered to take a kayak out on my own, and that's what I did. I only capsized once, and managed to beat everyone at the game of British bulldog we played. I did get a little burnt on my hands where my shirt didn't cover, and weird patchy places on my legs, but by the time the skin cancer sets in, they'll surely have a cure for it, right???

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