Monday, August 4, 2008

Dang dang dang went the trolley...

The room guys (and I'm so sorry, I still haven't learned their names, despite many many efforts to hold them down long enough to memorize their name tags) were really intrigued by our conversation with Colleen and the family over Skype yesterday.

"Oh my God, this technology," one said, "this is so good, Ma'am. It is very very good." and they asked all sorts of questions as I tried to explain how far away our families are, who the people on the laptop are, how tall the trees and mountains are in Washington State, how cold the water is.
The last bit was a bit difficult considering my lack of fluency in metric and Celsius.

My brother, Rich in Bethel, Alaska mentioned that its 44F there. Awesome! It was 44C here!

There is one marked advantage to the metric system. I bought a scale, which of course is in kilograms. Since it takes 2.2 lbs to make a kg, not only is that number substantially smaller than in the US, but it takes a lot more for the number to shift up or down. Works for me.

Bethy and Thomas figured out on, oh, day one that the reception area is always stocked with Red Delicious apples. They had to take one every time we went through the lobby.

Pretty soon our hotel room was filling up with apples marked with three or fewer bites. I began to make applesauce out of self defense, (and horror at the quantity of apples being thrown away). The staff seems to think the kids are the most wonderful things, and love giving them the apples. One day we went down there and there were no apples.

One look at the stricken looks on the kids' faces sent the doorman striding to a back room, entreating, "Wait, Ma'am, please wait."

Shortly thereafter he reappeared, carefully polishing two apples.

Yesterday the reception staff moved next door to the building that's being reopened. We're sad about this for two reasons. One, the apples have gone next door too. Second, we really enjoyed having our room face an entirely empty set of balconies.

The staff were particularly apologetic about the apples moving away and today when we walked over there to get some, they also presented Bethy with a red rose.

The villa hunt continues. We were this close to getting a house yesterday.

We liked it, it wasn't exactly what we wanted, though it was very nice with a grass back yard, mature garden and trees, view of lakes from both the front and back. All white and marble, of course, as are all the homes. This having been said, we weren't excited about it, but we thought that it was the best we could do with the amount of allowance we had from the company for housing. (I know, I know, life is harsh...)

Then Mike called me. He'd heard a rumor that the company housing allowances were going to go up. Last time the went up 15%, and that would be enough for us to get the house we really want if we shop around and hit it just right. The thought is that the increase might even be retroactive. Mike is the master of risk assessment, in my loving opinion, so I left it up to him. Should we settle for the smaller house that we liked or take a chance on finding something we love?

We decided to wait, and I'm pretty happy about it. As you should be, since the guest room just wasn't big enough for our tastes. You never know, you might end up coming out here to see us!

With the predicted extra allotment we're hoping to get a villa with a real maid's room. This means we're back to thinking about whether we can afford to sponsor a maid. I even have one mentally picked out. A patient, thorough, gentle woman from Indonesia who loves kids and to cook would be perfect. (I can dream, can't I?) Thanks to Bill for introducing us to Indonesian cuisine, by the way...

Shopping the other day at the local grocer, all of the sudden the front wheel came clattering off of the grocery cart (here called a trolley) and skittered away. This was a new one for me. I'm still trying to adjust to the lack of seatbelts for the kids on the trolley, so a jettisoned wheel seemed par with the course.

One of the stockers immediately came to my assistance and tried to get the recalcitrant wheel back on, to no avail. So he dashed off and brought me a new trolley, carefully transferring the groceries from one to the other, and bringing a group of other interested employees who stood around talking about the excitement.

We went to Geant store, the Dubai version of a Fred Meyer, as far I can tell. This is a really big store, and there you have to pay to use a trolley. I had carefully watched, and what you do is shove the dirham (about the size of a quarter with a similar value) into a little slot on the handle and this releases the chain that attaches it to the next trolley and you're good to go. That's the theory, anyway.

I wrestled with the thing for awhile, gave up and asked another woman for help. A NZ kiwi, she reassured me that yes, these things were a pain and we went along the line of trolleys trying to find on that would release it's hold on it's neighbor, shoving in and removing the dirham as we went along. Finally one came off, and I thanked her and happily loaded in the kids as she wheeled away. As I was finishing getting the kids in another woman approached me. Could I please help her with the trolley system? She was new here from Scotland, she said...

When we got back to the hotel we ran into one of our room guys who's been transferred away from us on the 5th floor to the 2nd. I asked him how he liked his new job "No, no, I do not like it Ma'am", he said. He had come in very early, it seemed, and was leaving early as well, with his day off being tomorrow. He reminds me strongly of Ponch on CHIPS, great smile, better hair, and he was wearing his off-duty clothes, a perfectly pressed shirt and slacks. I told him he looked handsome and he responded the way a 12 year old boy might, ducking his head and murmuring "Thank you Ma'am, thank you."

I would have loved to ask him what he does on his day off, but I didn't want to keep him from it. So he hugged Bethy and kissed sleeping Thomas on his cheeks and then asked if he could carry the grocery bags for me. Here he was, all duded up and ready to go, and he still wanted to take the time to help us. I sent him on his way with a smile and a nandi and we both said we missed seeing each other.
Then I lugged the bags and conked-out Thomas up to the room and felt pretty dang good about it.


Megan said...

Natalie! My mom sent me your blog via Jean Cerar! OMGosh! what an adventure you are on. I love reading your blog and you have such an amazing way of writing! you crack me up, and i am so impressed at your willingness to be an independant and very brave woman. I would love to reconnect. I will be thinking happy safe thoughts for you and your family. take care and email when you can! INCREDIBLE!
your friend, from long ago,
megan penney

Natalie said...

Hey you! So great to hear from you! I just "found" Lino Verna too. :) He's doing great, has darling kids, a little girl and little boy. This is so neat to connect with people when I'm so much further away. Let's hear it for the Web!

I'll email you. Thanks for your address. I think maybe I'd better put an email link of some kind on here. Thank you as well for your SUPER NICE comments. :)