In many of my other posts, I have talked about the various traveling I have been able to do since living in the UAE. Living here has allowed me to visit many countries that I never would have imagined going to. I have also mentioned that when we have a break from work, the norm is to travel. The question isn’t, What are you going to do over your break? But instead the question is, Where are you going to go over break? The only exception to this seems to be if someone has family visit them during break. Having family visit trumps any other vacation plans.
I never thought I would be able to answer the question of Where are you going? with Nowhere because my family is coming to visit. And then, like a dream, it happened. My mom and younger brother came to visit over spring break. Maybe you are wondering why it has taken my family almost three years to come visit. Well, it has taken that long to put all the pieces together to make it happen. First step was getting them passports. What? Yep neither of them had ever had a passport. You would be shocked at how many Americans don’t have one. Then we had to arrange the schedule so my mom could get time off work, my brother wouldn’t be in class, and I wouldn’t be working. Then I had to spend about a year convincing my mom that she would be safe flying. It isn’t a short journey (3 hour drive to Seattle, 14.5 hours flight to Dubai, 1.5 hour drive to Al Ain) and for someone that has a fear of flying, that was almost enough to make the trip never happen. But this year, it all came together.
In preparing for their arrival, I kept asking my mom what kind of things she wanted to do during the trip. She just kept telling me that she just wanted to see where I live and what my life is like here. Well, this tempted me to let them really experience life here by making them navigate through some of the obstacles that I had to figure out when I got here like explaining to a taxi driver how to get to my home, trying to buy groceries, making them get some papers translated, or maybe even telling them to go do a border run. But, I am a much nicer person than that, so I tried to be a good host.
For six days of their time here, we just explored Al Ain. I showed them the university, Kassandra’s school, and our villa. They got to meet Clark, my fiancé, and his three boys. I introduced my mom to her first shwarma. We chilled at the Jahili Starbucks.
We went to all three main malls because that is what you do in Al Ain. We watched Kassandra have basketball practice. I took them to Paco’s, so they could see where Clark and I met. We had dinner with friends.
I showed them how I have to hang the laundry. We went grocery shopping and they could finally understand why I lost weight when I first moved here. We drove past all my favorite roundabouts, past my old apartment, and the gym (despite all my complaining over the years about the horrible driving in the UAE, traffic was fairly calm probably because it was spring break – I am sure they now think I have been exaggerating all this time). We watched TV, ate nachos, and played board games. We sat outside on my patio and enjoyed the fabulous weather (they lucked out because the it was not unbearably hot while they were here). Just normal stuff.
In addition to the everyday stuff, we took the time to see a few of the tourist sites in Al Ain. We went Jebel Hafeet with Clark and the boys to have a picnic and see the sunset from the top of the mountain.
On another day, while Kassandra was at school, I took my mom and brother to the Al Ain Palace museum, where Sheikh Zayed lived from 1937 to 1966. My favorite part was the schoolhouse room (where my brother played teacher) and the room that houses all the pictures of Zayed’s sons. My mom loves that kind of historical stuff.
We also walked around an oasis for awhile. Both were a first for me, so it was fun that I got to play tourist too.
They really got to see my normal routine and life, and honestly I don’t know when the last time was that I have seen either of them look so happy. Everything that I had been trying to describe to them over a crummy skype connection was finally right there for them to experience firsthand. Al Ain was no longer a mystery to them. But, of course, I wasn’t going to let them spend their entire vacation sitting around my house. It was time to get them out to see more of the UAE.