Sunday, August 23, 2009

There she goes....

It's 4 p.m. in RAK (Ras Al Khaimah), and I'm at an internet cafe not TOO terribly far from the a.p.t. I actually wrote a nice, inaugural blog during one of my bored moments, but that's on my laptop, which I'm not willing to cart around in 50 degree heat, especially now that Ramadan's on, and my go-to WiFi connection, Coffee and Cream, won't be opening til after sunset. So you're getting this piece of crap instead. Suck it up.

Since this is the inaugural post, I should probably begin by giving you the lowdown on life here. RAK's the northernmost emirate (governing structure...kinda comparable to a state or province), and...hmmm, can the term backwater be used? Maybe not quite in its purest form, but I'll use it anyways. There are lots of new buildings without power, more than one mall operating at half occupancy, with another, BIGGER one in the works (both things fallout from the economic crisis, to my understanding), rubble - from what, I don't know - and at least a couple of dusty back alleys without lights. I know because when I decided to seek out food last night, I ended up meandering down a couple of them.

On the other hand, there are really quite lovely things here, too. I live in a building called the Sunrise. Or Mairaid. I'm not sure why it has two names, but I like calling it the Sunrise. It's pretty much going to be party central for the teachers at RAKESS this year, I think, because a ton of us and what seems like most of the British curriculum teachers live there. It's also - HALLELUJAH! - a ten minute's walk from the beach (which I will not be swimming at because...okay, it does still very occasionally suck to be a white woman), and the beautiful Hilton beach resort, which I'll be joining. I have my own apartment, which is probably three times the size of my place in Korea, so there's still a fairly good chance I may lose things. I've dedicated one of my rooms as my belly dance studio, cleared out most of the furniture and bought two ten-dollar mirrors (so far) for it. We had an introduction activity today at RAKESS, and my partner mentioned that I had an exotic habit, and that I was looking for other people who might be interested in belly dancing, which is not entirely true - if you know me, you know I'm more than happy to go it on my own, no matter what "it" may be. But three other ladies came up to me throughout the rest of the day and said that they had also danced, or were interested in dancing, and after experiencing what it was like to be part of a community of dancers, in Omaha, and at the end of my time in Seoul, I'm actually excited about creating one here in RAK. Dubai, eat your heart out!
I got to go to church on Friday, and that was good. I was a little worried about being assigned to the Sharjah ward. I had been told that there were lots of singles in Dubai, and as nice as married people are, they don't make what you would call, "Ideal Partners in Crime." They have families and stuff. So I was happy to meet some girls there - one of whom looks like a taller version of Diana (I had to restrain myself from boinging her curls), and seemed to find my mix of sarcasm and snideness agreeable. I may still consider Dubai once I've got a car.

The teachers are a really quite amazing mix. Everyday I get to listen to accents from all over the world - Aussies, Saffers, Indians, Brits from all over the isles, a few Americans, and...ugh. Canadians. Whose nationalistic pride I still don't totally understand. Maybe next year. There are lots of single ones too...yeah, that's a preoccupation of mine. To understand it you'd have to know my history in Bahrain, and that's too long a story to go into right now. Suffice it to say that in spite of the fact that I'm a fiercely independent person, and that my friends have actually been known to drive me NUTS (hello, Christa), at the end of the day you need them to put it all in perspective, to help you laugh at things or to sympathize with you over the frustration. In the end, it was not the crappy school or the atrocious student behavior or whatever that made me leave Bahrain...it was that lack of friends.

Last thing for now - Ramadan. It started yesterday, and it annoys me now, almost as much as it annoyed me three years ago. But I'm trying to think of it as a forced opportunity to work on some of my less wonderful habits. Which are coming along alright just by virtue of leaving the states...and possibly something deeper. I already feel better than I have in a very long time, like a layer of myself has peeled away leaving behind a softer, newer thing in its wake.

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