Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Our house in the middle of our street...

After a long night of being awake with Thomas very unhappy and verbal about it hour after long hour (I think he must be healing and the medicine didn't seem to help) I didn't get to go to the Jumirah Mosque this morning. I had carefully dressed in appropriate clothing; long flowing skirt, long sleeves, shirt buttoned up to my throat, perfectly white socks (since you leave your shoes at the door), a long scarf to cover my hair. All ironed and hopefully not too infidel. The expat who'd invited me had said that children are not allowed in the mosque, so the babysitter was scheduled to come at 9. I was supposed to meet at the mosque just before 10 AM.

By 9:10 I had some suspicions, and called Guest Services. The last time we had a problem with babysitting the person we'd requested wasn't available until an hour after the hour we'd requested her to start. You know, so we could go see that peskily scheduled movie.

Mike had called Guest Services just before the allotted time and they let him know about the little issue then. Hearing this, I called them back to ask why we hadn't been let know beforehand. They protested: Mr Mike Sir had been informed ahead of time. Logical.

So, forewarned, this time I'd asked them to call me if the sitting couldn't be done exactly as I had written on the request forms. Whoops, they'd not received the request and were so sorry. Here is the conversation that followed:

There is no babysitting available in the morning, Madam.

"Is there ever babysitting available in the morning?" I asked.

No, Madam, no never, we are sorry.

"If I scheduled babysitting for next Thursday at 9 in the morning would that be available?"

Of course Madam, no problem at all, we will take care of it for you.

Ah, language barriers.

I drowned my sorrows at not being able to go to the mosque with some Turkish coffee (look! I made it myself. Inconceivable!) Never, never drink that stuff if you're the least bit dehydrated. Talk about a caffeine rush! Gads!

Now about our house: at the top of the page is a back view of our new abode. Lots more of the kids gallivanting about in there. Finding a home is Dubai is not like finding a home in the USA. For the first few weeks Mike and I tried to work within the budget set by the company for us, and that just wasn't, well, working. As we wanted to make sure to have a room for anyone who comes out to visit Dubai and stay with us, and the funds weren't sufficient, we decided to gamble on Mike's company increasing the housing alotment and began to look in the 280,000 Dhs. per year market. This is a difference of about $1000 USD per month out of pocket, so keep your fingers crossed for us.

Real estate people have it really, really good here. (The exact opposite of the USA) They needn't be terribly good at customer service because places are few and clients are many. Since the houses are very much in demand, by the time we found our villa we had 5 real estate agents working for us to find a match. While in the US the housing market is very much a buyer's market, here it's a seller's market.
Here you have to hound agents to call you back, and houses are snatched up within a day or two. As September comes the demand increases. The pressure was on, but things always seem to work out for us, and they did again this time.

The area we were looking for a villa (read, by the way, as nice townhouse with a yard) is called the Springs. Mike is commuting with a coworker, John, who lives in Springs 20 and we found a place in Springs 2. There are the Springs, the Lakes, and the Meadows in the Emirate Hills area. Dubai burbs. Each area has a gate with a guard, and they don't go in any particular order. Springs 7 is followed by Lakes 5, Meadows is in there somewhere and no one quite knows where all of them are. They also look very much alike. Some have (man-made) lake views, others look at their neighbors.
There are only a few floor plans, 1,2, 3 and 4, and these are either "middle" villas (ie: 1M) or end villas (2E) which tend to have slightly bigger yards. Some of the walled yards are very elaborate, with swimming pools and fountains, lawns or flowerbeds, others are dry, sad, broken up concrete and sand.
When I was researching gardening in Dubai the guide said 'the first thing to do is keep all the sand from flying away...' so I wasn't expecting much, but many of the gardens are quite lovely. If the house has been empty for any length of time the garden is dry and looks dead. However, as is the way of the desert, liberal application of water makes it all better very, very quickly.

Cat has gone on vacation for a few weeks so we were on our own, next week Mike needs the car most of the days, and time was breathing down our necks. So we were very happy to find the villa we have. Last night we got the key. Hand delivered and everything.

There are marble floors and stairs, (yes, we're worried about the kids on those stairs, so far Thomas has been really careful) a balcony, bright windows and nice kitchen with good storage areas, and thoughtful details throughout the house that make us happy. The two car parking area is covered, something we didn't see in any of the other homes we viewed, which is a major bonus in a climate like this.

Now comes the fun part, finding the appliances and furniture and getting them delivered. As I understand it, the delivery guys don't know how to drive to places either. This is a poor combination, but I guess we'll just have faith that everything will get where it needs to go. Mike went and measured in the house so we know what dimensions we're working with and we'll go from there.

John, the aforementioned co-worker, has been trying for over a month to get a container he had shipped from the USA released to him. They aren't even sure if the container being held is the right one, and have lost his paperwork. Mike finds this whole scenario hilarious (OK, I do too) because the container (hopefully) contains John's H3 Hummer vehicle. How in the hey do you lose an H3? They're not exactly small. At this point I've heard, er, rumors that John has progressed to using profanity to try and get things moving, which he feels hopeful about.

No Humvee yet, though. John has lived in many countries., including Russia, so he's an experienced expat and knows how to get along, even without his Humvee.

The villa has 2 little palm trees out back, one smaller, one medium, that we've christened Thomas and Bethy's trees. Thomas took one look and said "Palm tree!" There is a beautiful bougainvillea in the corner, and some other trees that I don't know the names of yet. The new little trees (that I hope grow quickly) are in, and the grass seems to be getting put in quite nicely. There are no bushes for scorpions to skulk under, and surely there are geckos. If not, Mike and I will make sure to go out and drink some beers after dusk in the walled garden to let them in on the quality of persons we are and attract a few. I hear that works.

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