Within the last week I have finally figured out the laundry machine. At least I think so. I won't gloat, or it'll put me back in my place with more pink and blue clothes that didn't start out that way. (I think there may have been some dirham bills left in a pocket that contributed to that little fiasco, but I can't be sure). Please keep in mind as you continue to read, that this is a really nice residence, so the appliances are not necessarily to blame for any shortcomings.
Feel free to shake your head at me or roll your eyes via the computer as needed.
I've included a gratuitous photo of one of the massive balancing acts of crane species for you engineering types to hold your interest while I founder though my list of mechanical sorts of things that seem beyond my control.
Beyond the mysterious two-button potty flush technique, the drains in the bathroom have also surprised me. If one drains, say, a bath quickly, one better not have left clothing on the floor. The water bubbles up from beneath onto the tiles and gurgles in the sink on it's way out. "Oops, should've warned you about that", said Mike.
Now he tells me.
The oven has also been a challenge, and one that, I'm slightly ashamed to admit, I've avoided as much as possible. There are no words to assist in it's use, just pictures. Anyone who has assembled something made in China with pictographs to assist knows how I am feeling about this.
There are numbers to set the temperature, but for this USA girl, I need a special parking sticker to make up for my Fahrenheit upbringing. (Mom and Dad, it's not your fault! You did your best!) Fortunately there are computer programs online to assist in conversions from F to C and, even better, grams and ml from cups and ounces.
(I will soon have two sets of measuring implements and am hoping someday to be recipe-fluent on both sides of the Atlantic.)
In the meantime, the family is doing awfully well on eating out and leftovers, should I really put this much effort into fixing what seems to be such a great system? This having been said, I feel that I am really earning the food that comes out of the oven, which is quite satisfying.
However, on a day like today where once again we're craving that Aussie beef in the form of cheeseburgers, I need only address the stove top, and that's been easy.
At the grocery store we pick up those glorious eggs in multiples of 5, and milk in 1, 2, or 3-liter containers. I have to read the milk containers very carefully to figure out the fat content. The milk here is quite good, and to avoid confusion is labelled "COWS MILK".
There were shrimp for sale the size of lobsters. See Bethy's head? Those suckers were HUGE. (120 Dhs.)
I wouldn't have had the first clue what to do with them. Cocktail anyone?
Here's a quick survey of some other prices:
Bananas are 3.95/ kg ($0.49 /lb)
2 heads of garlic cost 0.30 Dhs ($.08!)
A bunch of mint: 1 Dhs ($0.33) I have to forcibly restrain myself from buying more.
2 kiwis: 2.90 Dhs ($0.80)
A yellow pepper (here called "capiscum") costs 4.90 ($1.34) the red and green are more.
Lettuce, however, runs 69.95/kg. ($8.65/lb) this was the least expensive lettuce, too.
I treated myself to a small (100 g) box of loose red bush tea (rooibosch) for 17.50 ($4.77)
The kids favor the (chicken) hot dogs wrapped in a sweet dough (2nd shelf from the top) and Bethy swears she'll never eat any other kind of hot dog ever again. You see the vegetarian pizzas, chocolate croissants, British pasties and meat pies, all between 3-5.50 Dhs ($0.82- 1.49).
227 g of Colby jack cheese (8 oz) was 21.00 ($11.45/ lb)
5 huge rounds of flat Lebanese bread (like extra large pizza-sized really good pitas) 3 Dhs ($0.82)
A regular bag of M&Ms is also 3 Dhs, but as you know I go for the UK chocolate, and that tends to be slightly less pricey. American goods are generally the most expensive, but I couldn't care less where it came from as long as it tastes good.
I was looking and looking for radishes and finally asked for help. The gal looked at me strangely, caught herself, said "This way Ma'am, here are radishes" and pointed to a big pile of white things the size of my forearm.
They were tasty, by the way.
I still have to use a credit card to pay for groceries since we haven't gotten an ATM card for me yet. This means we pay an extra percentage for the USD-AED conversion by the bank. The process of acquiring one has been interesting.
Mike had several people working on it for him, calls were made, favors called in, and when we finally got it, all excited about being able to get cash, the holiday hit (Eid Al Isra' Wal Mi'raj -the Ascension of the Prophet Mohammad) and the ATMs were drained of cash by the time we got there!
I'm settling in purchase-wise: coffee store, check, used book store, check, scrapbooking store located, (though not yet visited, like I have time for that!), lots of places to develop film, library is on the list. Bethy and Mike picked up a cute little red "mobile" (cell phone) for me, (though they had to go back again with his passport to be allowed to buy the sim card to make it work).
I can even get to the beach now, though perhaps not the one I originally headed out for... What more could a girl possibly need?
Actually, a house would be nice, and we go nearly every day to view one. "Go looka house!" says Thomas.
The villas are very beautiful, but the rental allowance from the company, perfect 9 months ago, has now fallen behind the market. Markedly. So we keep looking.
A 3 bedroom with tiny maid's room, study (aka guest room, for those of you prone to travel) and a small yard can easily cost 300,000 Dhs to rent for a year. Yup, coming up on $100 thou.
Every day the prices go up as the summer marches on, and houses go fast. They are beautiful houses though, creamy white interiors, marble kitchens and marble staircases that make us worry even more than the marble floors for Thomas' noggin.
We will be dropping some dough on rugs, that's for sure, oh darn. I'm pretty sure we can get some awfully nice Persian carpets here. (They're everywhere!)
I got gently but firmly reprimanded (again!) by the room guys for letting Thomas go out on the porch to eat a popsicle. Well, hyuk, hyuk, that's how we all cool dohwn 'round these here parts..
Actually, here's Thomas' true heritage: future engineer, for sure. Check out the multitasking. He already knows his way around in the car better than either of us, and always tells us when we're almost home, regardless of which direction we come from. Pretty good, kid.
I should ask him for help with the oven...